These historical war games are the hardest to contextualise. As I was marching my force of Takeda Shingen up a snowy hill, for instance, I found myself humming the theme to Dambusters. That's not very feudal Japan, is it?
So, ten years after the first Total War game and we're back in the Sengoku era, after a spell in ancient Rome, a couple of jaunts in the middle-ages and a brief foray into the eighteenth century. As the Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey sang in the 90s, it's all just a little bit of history repeating.
In the decade-long gap since we've last took up residence here, Total War has seen plenty of changes. Lands have become countries, which in turn became entire continents - a spiralling web of trade and conflict as the Total War timeline inched closer towards the age of globalisation. But realigning the focus on a single nation now adds some necessary tunnel-vision to Total War's scope and intentions; whereas the cosmopolitan jaunts of Empire allowed developer Creative Assembly to briefly skirt over a great many cultures, we're now back to a single nation and a single focus - and it's clear the team at Creative Assembly haven't lost theirs.
That's all a complicated way of explaining the satisfaction derived from watching an entire fleet of arrows thup-thup-thupping into a dense pack of enemies, mind, which is something which Total War has always done better than any other game in the history of ever.
So, picture the scene: I'm defending a 17th century hilltop castle - think wooden structures and those beautifully ornate triangular roofs. The three-tiered fortification's upper keep is where most of the action is taking place, which basically means I'm doing extraordinarily badly.
Rewind a few minutes and I'm comfortably swatting down relentless hordes enemy pikemen, whose tactic of rushing up the forested glades and scaling the castle's chunky stone walls is not really doing much against my swathes of archers. Their lethal, fire-tipped arrows scorch across the air and extinguish themselves in flesh and snow with a satisfying damp hiss. My satisfaction is short-lived, however, as I realise the enemy has snuck an enormous samurai expedition up the mountain passage at the rear of the castle.
My hurried repositioning doesn't happen nearly fast enough, and the enemy forces effortlessly cut through my archers without hesitation - as my squads rout to the uppermost keep they are brutally dispatched by a bold charge of horsemen. The worst part? I completely disregarded the advice, given to me by a Creative Assembly staff member no less, to cover said mountain path. The crushing defeat is humiliating.
Still - let's move on, shall we? The main focus of a recent preview event was on Total War: Shogun II's new online modes, designed specifically to bridge the gap between the series' context-rich single-player campaign and its traditionally disjointed vignettes during multiplayer tussles.
To accomplish this, you're now granted access to a persistent general-class Avatar unit. As your Avatar levels up, you get access to a full tech tree of traits and a set of perk-like retainers. This is clearly an aspect of contemporary multiplayer gaming rather than any contextual nod to history, but it's a system that's proven to work well. This also lets you aspire to unlock a new helmet, too, which never hurts.