Compared to Empire: Total War it’s now more difficult to get a substantial growth rate for towns. I struggle with the financial situation when I play the more difficult clans and can only sporadically recruit samurai for my armies. But some other AI clans who should have comparable financial difficulties based on their territorial possessions can sometimes afford to field all-samurai armies (fortunately they were all yari samurai who died like flies when they assaulted my stronghold, but the AI is still a cheat)! The AI is eager to assault my castle towns at the first turn of a siege, but they horribly overestimate their chances of success, possibly because the auto resolve option for battles favors the attackers in such a situation. But if I choose to defend myself, I can easily inflict a crushing defeat on the attacking party even if they seriously outnumber me.
The game still has the telepathic ranged units, like in Rome: Total War and Medieval 2: Total War; archers outside the walls can fire at enemies within the walls who they can’t even see. And this time they can also inflict heavy casualties at archers defending the walls, which is incredulous given the very good defensive position on the walls. What changed for the better is that defenders who are climbing the walls can now expect to get riddled by arrows while they do so. In the previous games archers on walls would fire at approaching besiegers, but once they had ladders up the wall they would be out of harm’s way for a moment until they reached the top of the wall.
Even worse is that my bow ashigaru standing on a notable hill don’t have a greater range than the enemy bow ashigaru not standing on a hill. I still remember playing Medieval 2: Total War as the French and placing my Scot’s Guard (or any other faction or any other units which have ‘long range missiles’) on the slope of a very high mountain. That was possible if you attack or get attacked by an enemy force near mountains. In extreme cases if you were placed on a much higher elevation and the enemy at a much lower elevation, your ranged units had a very extreme range of maybe one-third of the battlefield. While the enemies would tire themselves with moving uphill they would meet a hail of arrows or crossbow bolts and they would be dead before they could even get close.
Like in previous Total War games (with the exception of Empire, where it didn’t bother me) units are still marked with the very bright color of their faction to identify them, which makes them look silly and unrealistic. It’s not necessary at all to identify which units are yours and which are enemy, Europa Barbarorum and other mods don’t do it and there it never caused problems. Again a mod is needed to fix it I guess. While researching technologies in Empire made sense because that game is situated in the 18th century, the ‘Mastery of the Arts’ stuff which is essentially the same in Shogun 2 does not because the Sengoku period did not have such technological and intellectual advances. The peasant foot soldiers, the ashigaru, are cannon fodder for the samurai in this game, even though Wikipedia tells us that they could vary from having no armor to very heavy armor. The developers must have some kind of obsession for snow, when the winter season arrives the whole of Japan looks like Siberia. But in reality snow cover only lasts in northern Japan and higher altitudes. In Tokyo ‘snowfall is sporadic, but does occur almost annually’: with the average high and low in January being respectively 9,9 °C and 2,5 °C it should melt quickly. Glad I paid no more than € 15 for this game.