Total War Battles: Shogun isn't the best iOS game out there. But nor is it the worst. Creative Assembly and Sega's first attempt to bring their award-winning Total War franchise to the iOS platform is one that seems littered with small, easy fix problems here and there that could have been addressed with simply more development time.
That shouldn't surprise the lot of you who are probably already fans of the PC game giant since almost every launch in the franchise's history seems to be renown for some sort of bug mishap. I didn't go into the game with any big expectations, so I guess that's why I left seemingly okay. It is a mobile game meant for some fun action on the go and that is just what it delivers. A solid experience.
The game is set somewhere in 16th Century Japan and opens to a familiar setting that most of us, if not all, have seen before. The story depicts a father passing on his last instructions to his son after their clan was betrayed by the Takeda clan and attacked. Your father's dieing wishes were to have you seek out those who are responsible for the tragedy that befell your clan and to eliminate them at all costs.
The majority of this mediocre plot is told through letters that are sent back from the son to his sister, who is ruling their clans home-land while he is off playing war. The plot in Total War Battles is most certainly not as intricate and as well portrayed as in other iOS games such as in Infinity Blade II, but it at least gets the job done in creating a backdrop to answer the five, all important Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why).
Gameplay in Total War Battles is fun and unforgiving, but it isn't without its flaws. The basis of the game has you progress across a campaign map, selecting mission after mission that will either progress the story or give you some extra XP to spend on things like better and faster resource gathering or more experienced troops.
These extra XP missions aren't the most fun to play through though. If I could, I would have skipped over all them, but me being he completionist that I am, forced myself to play through each and every one of them. These optional side missions could be simply building an X amount of a specific building, gathering an X amount of gold, wood, etc., or kill an X amount of enemies.
That is much easier said than done… These seemingly simple and fun side objectives turned out to be the most grueling and boring part of the game. Almost none of them were any fun at all, as most of them pitted you in either the most impossible, or most boring situation possible. They need a lot of trial and error runs that eventually just diminished and then later ruined the experience for me.
As for the rest of the game, it;s a little more straightforward. Build stuff, collect stuff, battle stuff. You'll be busy building and producing the required resources for building your army that's end goal is to normally take down the enemy leader on the opposite side of the map, which is usually a straight shot as opposing factions are positioned on the left and right edges of the map.
However, there is a small twist on this that will require you to slow down and think before you simply release an all out charge on the enemy leader. Your units can only march forward, as moving backwards is impossible since your warriors follow the laws of Bushido, which makes retreat impossible.
Putting all your effort into an all out assault would leave your own encampment left undefended and prone to attack, which will happen. The only thing you would be able to do would be to sit back and watch your fortress crumble away to ash as the enemy picks it apart, building by building. Strategy, as always in the Total War franchise, once again plays a formidable role in the game. One mistake could spell the end of you.
For tactical freaks, there is a wide variety of units and buildings for you to create/build to suit your devilish plans. I usually liked to go with the Yari, followed by Monks for boosted moral and combat support, followed by archers lineup when I approached an enemy camp. This formidable wall of soldiers virtually laid waste to almost everything the enemy would throw at me. Before I'd send these guys in however, I'd take out any exposed enemy range units with my cavalry.
But as I said before, Total War Battles: Shogun isn't without its flaws. The bulk of the complaints that I had revolved around the fact that units don't come with health bars and buildings offer zero information at all if tapped on. And even though I could blatantly tell that my warriors received a defense/moral boost from the monks placed behind them, I was never provided any form of statistics to see how big of a boost that actually was. And the fact that my military units had a cool-down that determined when they could switch directions was extremely nerve-racking as well…
As for the multiplayer, the game supports 1v1 same-device multiplayer, which would obviously only work on the iPad since iPhone and iPod screen would be far to small for this to work…
Total War Battles: Shogun is a great and refreshing entry to the iOS app store that is unfortunately held back by its many, simple design flaws. It would probably be best to wait it out for a sale, or even a hopeful patch to address these aggravating issues in the future before laying down the mandatory $6.99 for the app. But if you have the extra cash, the game is an enjoyable experience none the less.