Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
|Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun|
|Composer(s)||Filippo Beck Peccoz|
December 6, 2016|
PlayStation 4, Xbox One
August 1, 2017
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a stealth-oriented real-time tactics video game, with a gameplay similar to the Commandos and Desperados series. The game was released on December 6, 2016 and received three German Developer Awards (best German game, best PC/console game, best game design).
The game is loosely staged in Japan's Edo period. A new Shogun has unified Japan after years of war. However, a mysterious warlord known as Kage-sama has emerged, jeopardizing the country's stability. The Shogun assigns a Samurai in his service - Oshiro Mugen - to find out Kage-sama's identity, as well as eliminate him and his allies. During his missions, Mugen meets and recruits four agents specializing in infiltration and assassination: Hayato - a ninja, Yuki - a thief, Aiko - a spy, and Takuma - a sharpshooter.
Together, they identify and kill two of Kage-sama's allies: Lord Yabu and General Okkoto. Later, while tracking a lead to Kage-sama's hideout, they fall into a trap. Kage-sama is none other than Lord Noboru - the Shogun's brother and the senior commander. He never wants peace and plans to engulf Japan in a state of war, where warriors like him are in their element. Holding Mugen's companions hostage, Noboru makes Mugen lead him to the secret refuge of Ryunosuke (the Shogun's son), whom Masaru (Noboru's son) murders. Noboru gloatingly leaves the broken-hearted Mugen behind with a knife to commit Seppuku. Mugen's companions successfully free themselves from the prison, but Mugen finally chooses to kill himself for failing his Shogun, leaving his friends to grieve at his death.
After learning that the group has survived, Noboru blames them for murdering Ryunosuke and furtively devises a plan to assassinate the Shogun. The group kidnaps Masaru and delivers him to the Shogun, where he confesses everything about him and his father. The Shogun executes his nephew Masaru and sends his agents on their final mission to kill Noboru in his castle. Having avenged Mugen, the four comrades part ways.
"Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun" is a real-time strategy (RTS) game with an emphasis on stealth, patterned after the Commandos and Desperados game series. The player commands a team of assassins and performs various acts of espionage, sabotage and assassination, such as infiltrating heavily guarded fortresses and eliminating enemies from within, killing/capturing special targets, stealing important documents, overhearing conversations to collect information, rescuing other characters, etc.
There are three levels of difficulty for all missions: Beginner, Medium, and Hardcore. Each mission has several badges (achievements) to make the game more challenging (for example: complete the mission without Aiko using disguises, complete the mission without Takuma shooting anyone, complete the mission without swimming, etc.). Badges cannot be acquired on Beginner difficulty, and all available badges for a mission will only be displayed after completing it at least once.
1. Vision cone: Each enemy (guards and civilian) has a vision cone, which has two parts: a solid section and a banded section. In the solid section, characters will always be spotted whether they are crouching or standing. In the banded section, characters who are crouching will not be spotted. While the solid section gives way to the banded one based on distance, low cover, such as barrels or bushes, will also create banded sections behind the obstacle. High cover and buildings block vision entirely.
An enemy's normal vision cone is green. If an enemy is alerted (as by spotting footprints or hearing a noise), it will turn yellow. It will also gradually become yellow if a character enters his vision cone; when the yellow section reaches the character, he will become hostile and raise an alarm. A purple vision cone indicates a distracted guard.
2. Alarms: If an enemy spots a corpse or the player's characters, he will raise the alarm, and additional soldiers will spawn from nearby buildings and begin patrolling the area. Bodies can be disposed of permanently by throwing them into rivers, wells, bushes, buildings, barrels, etc.
The usual approach of the game involves studying the patrol routes of the guards and their vision cones, luring a guard into an ambush or isolating him by distracting his comrades, killing him stealthily and hiding the body. In this way, the player can pick off enemies one by one in order to work out the objectives. Another approach is to lure/distract multiple enemies and kill them at the same time using Shadow Mode, or an ability that kills multiple enemies simultaneously.
3. Environment: The environment presents both challenge and opportunity for the player. The camera can be rotated freely.
3.1. Objects: Some objects such as vases, icicles, heavy cargo, wooden block, rocks, etc. can be knocked down from above to either create a distracting noise or kill enemies beneath (or both). If enemies are killed by objects, other enemies won't raise an alarm, thinking it's an accident. Other opportunities to create "accidents" may also present themselves; Hayato, for example, may provoke an ox to kick and kill an enemy standing behind it by throwing a rock at it.
3.2. Hiding: Characters can hide in some areas, becoming mostly invisible. Bushes are very common, although not completely safe. Alerted enemies will enter and search bushes, but they can be killed. Buildings can be entered and hidden within as well. Enemies may enter buildings, and any characters inside will be defenseless. Buildings already occupied by enemies cannot be entered at all. Some missions have wagons, which can be entered when they stop. Wagons can be used to evade enemies, but if an enemy samurai checks the wagon, they will spot any characters hidden within and attack. Hiding underwater is completely safe; enemies will never enter it or fire into it.
3.3. Snow: Characters will leave footprints after moving on the snow. If the enemies see footprints, they will follow them, which can be used to the player's advantage to set up an ambush.
3.4. Night missions: In night missions, the enemies' vision cones are weakened, but light sources create spots in their vision cone where characters can be spotted even when crouched. Some light sources can be extinguished, and if an enemy spots this, he will come and light it up again. This can be used to lure enemies into an ambush.
3.5. Loud surfaces: Some missions have loud surfaces, which makes noises when walked upon (for example, puddles of water).
3.6. Shadow Mode: This is similar to Quick Action in the Desperados game series. By using this tool, characters can be assigned to perform an assigned task simultaneously.
In each mission, the player has up to five of these characters to use:
1. Hayato: He can kill enemies in close range with his ninja sword (ninjato). With the non-lethal option, he will knock out enemies temporarily. He can kill non-samurai enemies at a distance with his shuriken, which he can recover and reuse. He can distract guards by tossing rocks.
2. Yuki: She can kill enemies in close range with her dagger. With the non-lethal option, she will knock out enemies temporarily. She can set a trap that kills any non-samurai enemy who steps on it. She can lure guards to her location with her flute. Being a thief herself, she can steal things from enemies without attacking them.
3. Mugen: He can kill enemies in close range with his katana. This is the only melee attack that can kill enemy samurai that haven't been stunned. With the non-lethal option, he will knock out enemies temporarily. He can kill multiple non-samurai enemies at a time within a circle with his Sword Wind ability. He can lure a guard to a certain spot by tossing his bottle of sake there. Only Mugen can lift heavy objects (such as barrels of gunpowder, large rocks) and throw them.
4. Aiko: She can kill enemies in close range with her hairpin. With the non-lethal option, she will knock out enemies temporarily. She can toss sneezing powder to temporarily reduce enemies' vision cones without alerting them. She can disguise herself as a civilian once she steals an appropriate outfit. While disguised, she will not be attacked, and she can distract most enemies with small talk, but her disguise won't fool enemy samurai.
5. Takuma: He can take out enemies from a long distance with his sniper rifle. He can throw grenades to blow up a group of enemies. With the non-lethal option, he will throw grenades filled with knock-out gas. He can send out Kuma—his trained tanuki—to distract or lure multiple enemies by dancing and chirping. Because of his advanced age, he can't fight enemies in melee or move bodies. His abilities are limited by ammunition; additional ammunition can be found during the mission, but it is scarce.
6. Other abilities: 6.1. Movement: Hayato, Yuki, and Aiko can use hook shots, which allow them to reach high spots to quickly evade enemies or move around (especially on rooftops). They can also swim to move around stealthily, climb vines and jump from above onto the ground (or jump onto enemies to kill them), and walk on tightropes connecting rooftops.
6.2. Carrying bodies: Hayato moves relatively quickly while carrying bodies, but he always stands in the process. Yuki and Aiko move slowly while carrying bodies, but they crouch in the process, which allows them to avoid being detected. Mugen can carry two bodies at a time, but like Hayato, he stands in the process. However, he is able to run while doing so. He can also toss bodies a short distance away from him.
6.3. Firearms: Hayato, Yuki, Aiko, and Takuma have matchlock pistols. They are very powerful but have limited ammunition; they are able to stun enemy samurai, permitting Hayato, Yuki or Aiko to kill or incapacitate them in close quarters. Mugen has a hand cannon, the only firearm that can kill enemy samurai outright.
6.4. First aid kit: All characters have first aid kits, but they have limited uses and cannot be replenished during a mission.
7. Non-playable characters (NPCs): Regular guards are usually armed with matchlocks and sometimes naginata. Straw hat guards can't be lured from their posts. Samurai are immune to many forms of attack. Only Mugen is capable of killing them without help; other characters will be immediately killed if they attempt to engage them in close combat without having stunned them with a firearm first. Civilians come in two varieties: hostile ones and friendly ones. Hostile civilians will not attack, but they run away and fetch guards nearby if they see any of the characters (other than Aiko in disguise). They have green vision cones, just like other enemies. Friendly civilians won't expose the player to the enemy; they will simply act as though they do not see them. They have grey vision cones.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun received "generally favorable" reviews according to review aggregator website Metacritic. Rock, Paper, Shotgun found the game better than Commandos 2 and the Desperados series.
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- "Wot I Think – Shadow Tactics: Blades Of The Shogun". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. 2016-12-02. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
Atmospheric and impossible to rush, Shadow Tactics is a fabulous game – a game I think I prefer to both Commandos 2 and Desperados