Note: I was never able to play the original Shogun: Total War since it was before my gaming days, therefore, I will not compare it with Shogun 2. I'm primarily a singleplayer gamer so I will focus on the single player aspects only.
Shogun 2: Total War is the 7th installment in the Total War franchise which takes the entire series back to the era that started it all. It retains the trademark featured gameplay of mixed turn based campaign and real time strategy battle map, along with a completely revamped and redesigned game mechanic on the campaign map.
Shogun 2 revisits Feudal Japan, more specifically, the Sengoku Jidai era which was marked with social turmoil, political intrigue and an almost perpetual state of war among the different samurai clans. Take control of one of these clans and pave your way towards the capital city of Kyoto and gain your rightful seat as Shogun, military ruler of all Japan.
+ Graphically Unrivaled in scale: -The environments, the level and map designs, art assets, unit animation, kaiga (gadō) Japanese artworks and the splendid seasonal weather effects brings feudal Japan to life once more. Although there are other games that also sport amazing graphical fidelity, I have yet to see any game to deliver it on the scale that was done in Shogun 2.
+ Sound and Music: -Great Japanese inspired music themes, fully localized voices for all units (meaning they all speak Nihon-go except the advisers), and believable sound effects will trully be a treat to anyone's ears.
+ Revamped Game mechanics: -Shogun 2 vastly improves on the mechanics that were laid down by Empire: Total War. New family management system, diplomacy, religion, unit types, General's Skill Trees and the Honor meter are just some of the things that make this game an improvement from Empire: Total War. Also, expect a lot of dead people from both sides after each battle due to the brutality of combat that is nicely recreated in this game.
+ High Replayability value: -Different clans feature different specializations which will force the players to adapt to a new gameplay style to fit the clan's strengths. This game also adapts an "Avatar Conquest" feature which provides a good and fun co-op experience.
+ Mods: -A lot of mods from a very active and dedicated community will extend your play time, experience and enjoyment.
- Artificial Intelligence: -Given that this game's AI is vastly superior than that of Empire: Total War's AI, it still falls short from what I expected. One particular instance that I found to be annoying is the fact that the game outright spawns WHOLE STACKS of free military units for the AI to increase difficulty rather than improving upon the strategy or tactic that it should be utilizing. Naval battles are a bit clunky, specially when trying to board another ship.
- Bugs and Crashes: -I can almost guarantee that you will experience some sort of bug or crash during your game. Saving occasionally is highly advisable. Conveniently though, Ctrl+S works as a quick save feature. No Anti-aliasing was placed on the game if the system is running on DirectX10 (disregard if already patched). FPS may also drop during some of the more cluttered or hectic battles that you will definitely encounter.
- DLC: -There are good DLCs and there are BAD DLCs, unfortunately, this game has the latter. Factions and certain Unit Types that could have easily been placed as free DLC or in-game content were locked behind a pay-wall. One of the greatest sins for me is the "Blood Pack DLC" which adds a minor feature where blood and gore are added to the game. The Blood Pack DLC should have been a patch rather than be sold for $2 (or your regional equivalent).
GREAT GAME! My personal favorite of the series and what I believe to be the best of the franchise so far. It retains the formula that made the Total War games great, and at the same time, mixes it up just enough to give a fresh new experience.
Total War fans would find it fun with its vanilla version, but more can be had with the different mods available a the Steam Workshop.
If you're a strategy fan but not particularly fond of the Japanese Feudal era, then this game might not be the game you're looking for.