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The Creative Assembly was founded in 1987 and was known for many years among gamers for its sports games. But in 1999 it began work on a new kind of game that would mix genres in an experimental way and allow gamers to explore an exciting historical setting. This game became Shogun: Total War. In the decade since then, The Creative Assembly has received numerous accolades for the Total War series and with the release of Total War: Shogun 2 this week, it seems suitable that we take a look back at the franchise’s humble origins.
Shogun: Total War was first announced in 1999 and then released in June the following year. It combined real-time tactics and turn-based grand strategy to give gamers a unique breed of strategy gaming that they hadn’t encountered before. The game was set during the Sengoku period of Japanese history and received a strong positive response. The game was also successful enough to warrant the development of an expansion pack by the name of “The Mongol Invasion,” and both this expansion and the original game were published by Electronic Arts.
Shortly following the release of Shogun: Total War, The Creative Assembly split off from Electronic Arts and joined Activision’s growing stable of publishers. In August 2001 The Creative Assembly announced Medieval: Total War. It was a follow-up to Shogun but this time the game was set in the rich and vast Medieval period of Europe. It gained a hugely positive reception and won several “game of the year” awards following its release in August 2002. The game like its predecessor had an expansion pack released for it called “Viking Invasion,” which focused on the Viking Invasions of Britain during the dark ages.
In January 2003, The Creative Assembly announced the third game in the Total War series: Rome: Total War. The Creative Assembly used a brand new engine for this iteration of the Total War series and also radically redesigned the way that the game was structured. Shortly following the release of Rome: Total War, The Creative Assembly was bought out in a surprise move by SEGA and SEGA published the two expansion packs for Rome which were “Barbarian Invasion” and “Alexander.”
The fourth iteration of Total War was called Medieval 2: Total War and was a remake of the original Medieval: Total War using the technology that was used to make Rome. It received critical acclaim much like its predecessor, but differed in that the game’s time span was expanded to feature the age of colonization and the discovery of gunpowder.
Gunpowder played a relatively minor role in Medieval 2 and The Creative Assembly decided to heavily expand its role with the fifth Total War game, Empire: Total War. Empire was set during the 18th century and brought 3D naval battles to the Total War series. Despite the game being praised for its realism and accuracy, it was also criticized for the numerous bugs that plagued the game’s launch.
Shortly following the release of Empire: Total War, The Creative Assembly announced Napoleon: Total War. While Napoleon was initially accused of being little more than an expansion pack, it ended up being the best Total War game yet. The game allowed you to assume the role of Napoleon during the French Revolutionary wars of the 19th Century and had numerous technical and gameplay improvements over Empire.
Total War: Shogun 2 takes place in medieval Japan and uses a powerful new game engine that allows The Creative Assembly to have 56,000 units on screen at once. Shogun 2 was released recently on March 15th.