For the last 4 or 5 hours I've been laying here in bed playing Shogun 2. Holy sh!t this game is Awesome!!! I just can't say that enough. I'm on normal difficulty and from a campaign perspective, I'm just holding my own. I started my campaign as the Shimazu Clan. So far I've managed to take 3 cities while holding off the combined alliance attacks of two of my enemies. That's right, Combined Attacks. Allies actually help each other do battle on a regular occasion. They plan and coordinate strikes. The diplomatic AI is great in Shogun 2, which to my knowledge is a true first for the series at launch. I just had a pitched battle against one of my enemies and won verses 2 to 1 odds, but took heavy casualties. At the end of that battle, that particular enemy sued for peace, which I took.
The battle AI is much improved as well. I can't really use Empire:TW as an example as the mechanics are different, so I'll use Med2. The battle AI attacks head on without delay when on the offensive, defends smartly when on the defensive, and knows when to pull back and regroup. The only small complaint I've found in the battle AI is from time to time the AI knows when I tell my cavalry to attack a bow unit and the bow unit starts running before my cavalry even gets there. It's like it detects the attack "click". When I tell my cavalry to move to behind the enemy bow units instead of clicking on them to attack I get the surprise attack I wanted to begin with.
I imagine under heavy scrutiny there might be a few other small quarks, but, over-all I'd have to say both the strategic and battle AI in Shogun 2 are Much Improved over the other games in the series. To call Shogun 2 anything other than a "Masterpiece of Strategy Gaming" would be a flat out lie. The full game is Way Improved over the demo. The demo was good and I'd say 85% accurate of the final product, but, there have been improvements since the demo to the full release. The graphics, simply put, are Amazing. They bring a feeling and atmosphere to the game that almost makes you feel like you're really in feudal Japan. The sound track for the game, with it's heavy use of Japanese drumming is killer as well. The battles feel truly Epic, they really do, and I haven't even gotten to the point where I fight with the maximum allowed number of units yet.
Other companies need to sit up and take notice. Shogun 2 is everything a grand strategic war-game needs to be, plain and simple. The campaign map is vibrant and feels alive. The strategic AI is a genuine challenge, and the battle AI, while of course not as good as a fellow human, is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the TW series at launch.
After I've spent some real time in the campaign I'll post a proper review or an A.A.R. or something for those wanting one. So far though, the game is as close to war-gaming perfection as I've ever seen at launch. If you liked any of the other TW games, Don't Miss Shogun 2, period.