Shogun 2: Bug Report

By Josh
on Mar 30, 2011
Filed under:
Game Reviews

splash_shogun2.jpg

I’m something of a Total War aficionado, so I imagine it comes as no surprise that Shogun 2: Total War (or Total War: Shogun 2, because apparently the naming scheme they’ve used since the beginning of the series is too confusing suddenly) was easily a pre-order guarantee for me. And I suppose I could talk about how fun the game is since they’ve scaled back and streamlined it compared to earlier titles, or how awesome it is that the AI finally understands what a “cavalry flank attack” is.

But… it almost seems too… nice for me to spend an entire post talking about how fun Shogun 2 is. What else could I do?

Oh! I know! Why don’t I list every single bug I’ve personally encountered so far? Yeah, that’ll work. I’m sure since this game is so great, the list will be short and concise, right?

Let’s see here…

  1. Upon entering a quick-match multiplayer lobby, you may be surprised to discover that there’s no button to leave. I suppose this would be a problem, but since this game was thoroughly tested before release, there is no reason you’d ever need to leave a quick-match lobby.
  2. Sometimes, in a multiplayer lobby, you will be completely unable to press the ready button, with the game throwing an error at you that you or someone else has an “invalid army setup.” This is sometimes caused by damaged veteran units being fielded, which the game is totally okay with letting you drag into the army setup window and gives you no indication that this is the problem at all.
  3. Other times, everyone will get an invalid army setup error despite this, and the game will simply never start. The only solution is for someone to open task manager and kill their client manually so the rest of you will be spit out to the main menu.
  4. If you’ve formed a team with your friends, and the team leader hits the “search for a match” button, all of the buttons will be grayed-out. There is no way for anyone to leave the team until the lobby leader stops a match search. This might have been a problem, but fortunately, because this game is well tested, there is never any situation where you might want to leave your team for any reason whatsoever.
  5. Sometimes, when searching for a team, the “stop search” button will gray-out as well, and the game will never match you with anyone, meaning the only way to escape is to kill the program through the task manager.
  6. Sometimes, in matches larger than 1v1, when your team joins a lobby, the game will scramble the players for no reason, even if you were in a pre-made team that was searching for a match together.
  7. In addition, when the teams get scrambled for no apparent reason, the game might really trip out and mangle the teams so badly that you’ll end up with more people on one team over the other, leaving you in a three versus one or two versus four situation. At this point, the game will simply refuse to start altogether, and someone will have to close the program manually so the lobby closes.
  8. Occasionally, when searching for a match with a team, you’ll end up in a game with a map that is too small for the number of players in the match. There is no way to change this and the game will never start, so someone will have to quit the game so the rest of you can escape.
  9. For added fun, the match-making system will simply say “Screw it!” on occasion, and drop you into a match type you didn’t even have selected. I’ve ended up in about ten naval games when I had “search for a land battle” selected.
  10. The above four bugs tend to happen in concert with one another too, so bonus points if you manage to end up on a 5v1 team on a 2v2 naval map when you were searching for a land battle.
  11. Occasionally, the game won’t allow you to push the ready button, saying that “The selected army is already taken.” This is actually a pretty benign bug, because as long as someone else in the match can hit ready, the countdown timer will start which will force everyone ready and start the match. But I can’t for the life of me figure out what that error message even means. What, did someone STEAL MY ARMY?
  12. Sometimes, when opening the clan overlay, the game will have a sudden moment of self-reflection and realize what a shameful display these bugs are, so it will commit seppuku in disgrace and the game will crash.
  13. If someone leaves a match while it’s in progress, the entire match will close – even if it was a team battle – and no one will be awarded a win or loss. Thus, the most expedient way to top the game’s ladder is to simply quit the game every time you’re about to lose.
  14. Despite the improvements to the battle AI, it still doesn’t seem to “get” siege battles. Sometimes, it will send all of its archers to climb the walls of the castle before any other units, so they can get slaughtered by all of the melee units on the other side.
  15. Other times, the AI will simply give up, sending all of its units to a far corner of the map and having them walk around in a circle until the battle timer runs out, at which point the defender (you) will be awarded with a victory.

But seriously, Shogun 2 is really fun, and if you like the Total War games, you should get it. But multiplayer is… really buggy, so if you’re looking forward to that portion of the game, you may want to wait until they can get a decent patch out the door.

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From the Archives:

  1. Darthricardo says:

    Actually, I’ve had problems (with the demo, mind, but I understand that it goes into the full version as well) where I couldn’t get the graphics level above low. It apparently has something to do with how much RAM you have, but here I am stuck with my lego army marching across a field of what looks like scruffy felt, while my machine churns out 50 fps and is unable to make it look the way it should. And that’s not even bringing up the campaign map… I would love to play this game, but I would also love it if Creative Assembly would trust me to know my own computer’s limitations.

    • Will says:

      If it’s related to RAM then unless the game is wrong about how much RAM it needs (it shouldn’t be, but it’s possible) then it’s absolutely acceptible for it to lock settings down for you.

      If the game knows that in order to display X graphics level it needs Y amound of RAM available for use and you do not have Y amoung of RAM, i see nothing wrong with the game telling you “Nope, can’t do that.” instead of trying to use more RAM than you have and mysteriously crashing like certain other games.

  2. Jarenth says:

    Well, that’s what you get for playing Shogun all the time instead of playing Crysis 2 with me, as you should.

    I mean, Crysis 2’s multiplayer is a bug-free haven of infinite goodness, with forum pages upon pages heaping praise on the game and not listing all of the ways it’s broken beyond help. Because it isn’t, you see.

    • StranaMente says:

      I, for example, decided not to touch the mp part of Crysis 2 until I can get rid of the bloom-motion blur, as it seems that my pc can’t handle it right and it ghosts and clones all the way to nauseaville, right next to motion-sickness town.
      And even if I could hold that back enough, I surely can’t hit even my own nanoshoes with those settings…

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      No,everyone should play farm simulator 2011.Crysis is so yesterdays news.

      • Elilupe says:

        I’m with you man. Farm Simulator 2011 is just so immersive when it comes to the world of farming. Sure, you could play Crysis 2 and shoot aliens in a beautiful looking, crumbling New York City, but I would gladly take the excitement of using harvesters, plows, seeders and even balers to shape the agricultural world around me over that any day of the week.

        • psivamp says:

          Yeah, but once you realize that the government subsidies in Farm Simulator 2011 are the same as those in real life, you just plant corn everywhere and you’re practically printing money. It helps that everyone and their mum in that game buy up your useless corn stover for biofuel.

      • Jeysie says:

        At first I thought this post was a snarky joke. Then I found out that “Farm Simulator 2011” really is an actual game. Now I’m just bemused by the universe.

        • Zukhramm says:

          The same company I think makes a lot of this, personally I have Forklift Truck Simulator 2009.

          • Michael says:

            I’m in the same boat as Jeysie.

            At first I thought you were making a joke at how ridiculous the premise “Farm Simulator 2011” is. But, no, I took a hint, and Googled it first.

            What company seriously sees the need to make mundane task simulators?

            This is usually where Rutskarn comes in and explains that the universe is a gopher. Where could he be?

    • Irridium says:

      Played the demo. And it was so amazing that I decided my money would be no good for it. So I am now out prospecting for gold in order to give Crytek what it really deserves.

      Also, using Gamespy for your multiplayer EVEN WHEN THE GAME IS ON STEAM is an act of such brilliance words fail to describe it.

  3. Grag says:

    I briefly glanced at the demo, and then decided that I could play the Rome:TW if I wanted that style of play.

    I feel absolutely certain the people in QA knew about some or all of these issues, and were told “We can’t fix it now, we’ll put out a patch later.”

  4. Bubble181 says:

    Since multiplayer doesn’t interest me in the least, I look forward to hearing about all of the problems with the single player.

    Not that I’ll have any use for it, since my computer doesn’t meet the minimum criteria. I can run Napoleon or Empire at high/medium custom settings, but apparently this one is…somehow…That much heavier? I dunno.

    • Jabor says:

      It still has the AI-spawns-doomstacks-out-of-nowhere issue (which is fixable if you mod it), everyone (even your most trusted allies) declare war on you the instant you get “too big” (which is also fixable with a mod), and autoresolve is fairly broken (though battles tend to be short so you might as well manually resolve most of them).

  5. JohnW says:

    Haven’t played too much multiplayer (won my first battle last night, yay!), but:

    #14: I haven’t noticed this at all. Every siege battle I’ve defended, the archers stand outside the walls and pound the living daylights out of me.

    #15: Absolutely. It seems the problem is with any reinforcing army the AI brings to the siege. It will work fine until the original army’s units are all destroyed or routed off the map, at which point the reinforcements will freeze, even if they are already part way into your castle. The towers don’t even recognize they’re there to shoot at them.

  6. Friend of Dragons says:

    It’s good to see that they tested the game as thoroughly as they tested the advertisements.

  7. Legendary Teeth says:

    I’m having a lot of fun with it, but the desyncs on co-op campagins are a killer. We haven’t been able to finish a game. I can see why they might come up in a 1v1 RTS setting, but in co-op? Come on. If there is a sync issue, host is right, who cares. No one is trying to pull one over on anyone, we’re a team.

    It also randomly doesn’t save when you hit the save button, which is ESPECIALLY annoying in a buggy game. You spend an hour fighting a long, tough battle rather than doing the auto resolve. Then you save right after, and next turn get stuck in a fight that desyncs all the time so you have to reload further back. But oh no, that after battle save didn’t take and you have to fight that over again. Ugh.

    Great single player game though.

  8. droid says:

    This seems to be a case of recursive fail, for example Fail #1 compounds many other failures where the only fix is to kill the process, where if Fail #1 was fixed you could just back out and try again.

  9. Irridium says:

    So, in terms of stability, is it better than Empire?

  10. Sekundaari says:

    As this game’s player community was thoroughly tested before release, I’m certain that number 13 will be a non-issue. Yeah.

    Anyway, Steamworks, not for me because of, etc. A bit of a shame. Still, thinking of other people here, hopefully every patch is an improvement, as opposed to a setback. My experience with Empire taught me that Steam isn’t the biggest fan of downgrading.

  11. Dev Null says:

    Loved the early Total War series, but don’t really have 24-hour blocks of time to sink into a game anymore, and it used to be complicated enough that coming back to a campaign after much time had passed was a non-option. You say streamlined. Is it still that much of a time sink?

    • Raygereio says:

      Pretty much all the Total War games do have that “one-more-turn”-syndrome going one, which makes it very easy to completely forget that you were supposed to stop playing 2 hours ago.
      Heck, even craptastic Empire still had that going for it.

      • Sekundaari says:

        If I recall Empire correctly, for me the problem was a bit different (and less enjoyable): With all the carefree microcountries declaring war on me with their strange überstacks, wars with major countries and naval battles, I’d face two or more (defensive) battles per turn. On the other hand, auto-resolving battles seemed to mean enormous casualties and chance of loss compared to manual battles. Thus, even just playing a single turn could take an awful lot of time.

      • Bubble181 says:

        I never got why people hate Empire so much. I prefer it over Napoleon, at least.

  12. psivamp says:

    Several of these remind me of Medal of Honor.

    1) No way to quit a lobby. Which I noticed in MOH’s beta but figured that anyone with half a brain would decide to fix before release.

    9) Getting arbitrarily dropped into a game type that you weren’t searching for.

    Edit: I have somehow forgotten the meaning of several. I had three, but removed one because I couldn’t remember if it actually happened in MOH or I just felt like it did.

  13. Old_Geek says:

    Sounds almost as buggy as Civ V multiplayer.

  14. Malkara says:

    I had 89 minutes logged into steam before I even got the game to work. :/

  15. Johan says:

    I loved every iteration of Total War up until Empire, which was really really just *blarg* for me. It had unreasonably long load times for my machine, the AI was terrible, and it had a slightly annoying problem of crashing to desktop every 3rd or so battle.

    I’m probably not going to get Shogun 2.

  16. Specktre says:

    I found Bug # 14 interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen archers scale ladders in Total War personally. Very interesting.

  17. eric says:

    It’s really strange… right now there’s quite a few decent PC games coming out that I would normally interested in (and as a PC exclusive gamer, this is even more exciting), but I’ve been so consumed by working on my current mod projectc that I’ve pretty much stopped gaming altogether for the last month or two. It’s a bit strange for me to think that there are so many high-profile titles that I’m ignoring, considering I usually try to make a point of keeping up to date on everything.

  18. DojiStar says:

    Seems like we haven’t mentioned (unless I missed it) the bug in which monks/missionaries start a rebellion next to a city on a campaign map and the rebel stack spawns on them trapping them both forever. I don’t think they can be interacted with by any other entities, either. If you’re playing as a Christian clan you really want that extra missionary, too.

    On the other hand, your monk/missionary can get mad experience “Demoralizing” the rebel army every single turn.

  19. Helm says:

    Shogun was THE game for me…………This is just a travesty

  20. Ernheim says:

    I would be all over this… if I didn’t have a horrible pile of junk for a computer. Where by horrible pile of junk I mean “Perfectly competent, if not better than necessary in every respect other than the graphics card.”
    I do wish that Creative Assembly were less big on graphics. Rome and M2 were brilliant games and perfectly pretty enough for the task at hand, but Empire only just ran for me. In strategy games the graphics barely matter anyway; I’ve had great fun with Civ 5 just using the strategic interface (where they strip out all the 3d and replace it with icons).

  21. Dys says:

    Having never gone near the multiplayer I was blissfully unaware of what a mess it is. Sounds like someone left mp at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list.

  22. MisteR says:

    When I was in high school, I played medieval:total war every day in the week for about a year. With mods or without, that game grabbed me like nothing else did. I never got into Shogun since it would be a step back from mtw. When Rome came out I bought it, tried to play it but failed, waited for mods but those failed also. Something had changed between the pure awesomeness that was mtw and the stinking pile of crap that was rtw. Mtw2 and etw only went further on a terrible track. The graphics got better, the map got shinier, the options increased, but the depth became shallow, the bugs became numerous, and the load times ridiculous. Long-term gameplay was switched out for short term wow-factor.

    In the end, I switched over to Europa Universalis III. It’s a bit of a niche game compared to the TW series, but it’s got the depth that I’m looking for.

    These bugs do not surprise me in the least. I’d like to believe that STW2 has learned from past mistakes and gives a good, long-term experience. But me and my wallet have hit our head to the same stone often enough. I’m sorry for the bitterness. This company and this series really hit my weak spot.

  23. rrgg says:

    As a suggestion for Extra Consideration I would really like to hear the four of you give your take on the strategy genre of games. None of you ever talk about it much, and I seem to recall Yahzee outright hates it. This is sort of a downer because many of the gameplay and story elements you discuss are irrelevant or even make worse a good strategy game (and I mean the good ones, not the tons of click-fest starcraft clones out there).

    As far as total war goes, I played Rome and medieval two thinking both were awesome, empire and napoleon were still pretty fun but with lines of fire and your own troops shooting each other the micromanagement got absurd, large battles for me never progressed strategically beyond standing everyone in a line so that they don’t kill each other or get bogged up.
    Of course after learning a bit more about ancient warfare and seeing the gross inaccuracies in rtw and m2tw I have sort of lost interest in them (did you know that swordsmen were neither real or effective on the battlefield? Go figure). To some may be a superficial complaint but it’s making me really hesitant to get shogun 2.

    • FatPope says:

      Care to clarify that swordsman comment? Swords certainly became less useful at the end of the middle ages with the increasing use of heavy armour but they were certainly widespread up to that point

      • rrgg says:

        They were very widespread, the problem is that they were sidearms, the archers have swords, the spearmen have swords, the polearm men and even zweihanders are going to be carrying sidearms. Soldier armed with only a sword and shield is generally going to be badly out of place with absolutely no advantages. Archers and javelinmen can fight from a distance while spear and polearms generally have the advantage in close range (in a battle line 2 swords are less effective than one spear according to the kings mirror)

        The only real breaks from this doctrine were the Spanish rodeleros who became popular on ships and in the new world but were phased out in europe when it became apparent that they were no match for a well formed pike square. And the romans but they still weren’t ready pure swordsmen and likely only dropped the spear to carry their armor-piercing javelins.

        • guy says:

          Actually, they dropped it when their greek-style spear formations got completely smashed by Gauls and Rome itself nearly got sacked. That is because pike wall formations have this thing known as a crippling downside where they fall apart in rough terrain and get mauled by dudes with swords.

          While legionaires did have javalins, they only carried 2-3 apeice, and they mainly existed to disrupt the enemy formation before closing to hand-to-hand, though they were occasionally used like spears against cavalry. Not often, though.

          • rrgg says:

            Rome was sacked by the Gauls, but the defeat was mostly due to the lack of resolve on the wings allowing the veterans in the center to be surrounded. The romans most likely switched to the more flexible formations after defeats by the Samnites.

            I would not give a force armed only with swords the advantage over spearmen armed with spears and swords even on rough terrain. However the ability to cause heavy casualties and disruption among a formation the instant before collision may be enough to give your troops a significant edge.

  24. Zaxares says:

    Experiences like this only add to my belief that these days, developers only run their games through the most basic QA processes, deciding they’ll let their user base do the bulk of the testing for them and just patch the game after release.

    • ccesarano says:

      Whenever I look at QA job postings, the only real requirements are that you be 18 and have a high school education.

      In this day and age, shouldn’t we have people educated in Quality Assurance, Usability and Human-Computer Interaction? There are whole books on the subject. You’d at least think someone would need to read “The Design of Every Day Things” or “Don’t Make Me Think”.

      More and more I believe the modern gaming industry is behind on this little facet of software development.

      • Mewse says:

        We do have people with those credentials. They’re usually in management roles over QA teams, or else are directly in the development teams (often as part of a UI unit, or in a design role). These are roles that don’t change often, and so are very rare to see advertised. When you see advertisements for Quality Assurance roles, they’re usually advertising for the lowest entry-level positions, where people with no special skills can be trained to do the job in just a day or two.

        (Which isn’t to belittle the work that QA testers do — a really good QA tester is worth their weight in gold. And I have immense respect for anyone who can work in QA for any stretch of time without going postal; it’s one of the least-fun and least-appreciated disciplines within software engineering. And still critically essential.)

  25. RichVR says:

    It’s funny. I just read the PC Gamer review last night for Shogun 2. The reviewer didn’t mention any of the problems that you experienced. It’s like he didn’t play multiplayer at all.

    What a surprise. (/sarcasm)

  26. Wolfwood says:

    1v1 is the only mode that works half the time folks. Don’t bother with the team games or random teams

    Im just happy the single player is relatively bug free. Other than that last complaint. which occurs a lot but you will consider yourself lucked out if a superior army attacks your ill defended castle and a large chunk of them walks in circle XD

    also i’ve never seen a siege AI ever charge their archers up the walls first <.< they always empty their arrows b4 doing so. Well at least thats what the Hard AI always does.

    most devastating siege army is the one with almost all bow infantry. they will rain death on you

  27. Lungman says:

    Another bug is if you’re playing through steam, when the game takes control of hte camera to show you a cinematic type thing (you know, where it zooms over to another army, usually in the tutorials) and you press shift + tab to open the steam overlay the game will pause with no way to un-pause, forcing you to alt+F4 out.

  28. Ivan says:

    You know, while i was reading the intro i was thinking “oh shit! he’s about to DESTROY this game!” But that’s actually not that bad a list of bugs. I mean i rarely play the multi-player on games unless i bought them exclusively for their multi-player. So these sorts of bugs tend to bother me much less than other people. The ones i tend to care about the most are the ones that directly affect the gameplay, like the bad AI concerning the siege maps. And that was the only bug of that sort that was mentioned right?

    Kinda makes me wish that i was in the mood for an RTS game, but that is a very rare mood for me so i think i’ll unfortunately have to skip this game anyways.

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