Total War: Shogun 2 is a game that blends turn-based strategy with real time strategy. Every Total War game has followed this formula, yet the games always manage to incorporate new mechanics to help differentiate themselves from each other. What stands out most obviously in Shogun 2 is the change in setting.
While many Total War games are set in a wide historical era, Shogun 2 is extremely focused. It is concerned exclusively with feudal Japan and offers little to no variety within that. A different game in the franchise, such as Rome, has a focus on the era of the Roman Empire, but offers the ability to play as a wide variety of countries that were present at the time. Japan’s historical isolation prevents this, making every playable faction feel very similar. To counteract this feeling of repetitiveness, the developers have created an extremely polished base for Shogun 2. It has some of the best combat of the franchise, while having very little unit variety. Most factions have 1 or 2 notable units that attempt to define that faction, but the core gameplay stays the same. You can play as a faction specializing in farms and bow units, but you will still use spear and sword units like everyone else.
The game’s apparent repetitiveness can be counteracted through the use of mods, which often add more units to spice up combat and more complexity to the faction management portion of the game. My personal favorite is Master of Strategy Sengoku (MoSS). It adds a lot of depth to managing your empire, while also improving combat significantly. It has a big focus of the logistics of war, requiring careful preparation, rather than the vanilla game which encourages going to war at the drop of a hat. It won’t be for everyone, but it should appeal to those wanting a more tactical, slow paced game.
When taken as a whole, Shogun 2 is one of the better games in the Total War franchise. It suffers from a lack of replay value that other Total War games don’t, but it remains a top tier game based primarily on its polish and refinement. If you like the general feel of feudal Japanese combat, you will love this game, but if not, you would be better served playing a game like Rome II or Warhammer II.