Shadow Tactics – Blades of the Shogun review (PS4)

When we reviewed the PC version of Shadow Tactics – Blades of the Shogun this past December, we already mentioned that upcoming console version. It was scheduled for mid-2017, and here it is! We played the PS4 version of this excellent real time tactical strategy title to see if we still like it as much when playing it with a gamepad.

It has been almost one year, to the day, that we saw Shadow Tactics for the first ever time. Developer Mimimi had brought the game to Gamescom for its unveiling, and people really seemed to enjoy it. In hindsight, that’s a great testament to the game, since it doesn’t begin to properly shine until you spend a lot longer with it. There are only a dozen missions or so, but a single one can take upwards of an hour to complete.

We won’t touch on the gameplay dynamics too much in this review, as our original PC review is still up and talks about that in detail. What’s important is that, over half a year later, we’re still finding new ways to tackle the levels in Shadow Tactics – and it works every bit as well on the PS4 as it does on the PC, despite a few control issues we’ll touch on later.

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As we mentioned in our previous review, comparisons to XCOM were made initially, but we see much more of the classic Commandos games – or Desperados, if you’re more fond of the western theme in that game. The funny thing there is that XCOM 2 also got a PS4 release, but it suffered a bit in the conversion on the technical end. With Shadow Tactics, we’re seeing none of that – the graphics are every bit as detailed as they were on the PC, and we didn’t notice a single framerate drop while playing.

Content-wise, nothing has changed. The levels in the game’s campaign are the same as in the PC version, and the solutions you came up with there will also work here. We’re actually a little surprised that Mimimi hasn’t released any DLC content yet with new levels, but perhaps that’s still in the works or being saved for a possible sequel.

The game does handle a little differently though, and that has to do with the game’s control system for the PS4. No longer able to use a mouse, everything’s been mapped to the DualShock controller. This brings one excellent optimization, but also a few drawbacks. Being able to save through a simple tap of the controller’s touchpad is great – it doesn’t break the flow of your game at all as there’s no need to go through menus and create and overwrite save games.

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What I didn’t like as much was the control and camera system, with cursor selection, camera aim and camera rotation all being mapped to two thumbsticks. The way this works is that R2 serves as a kind of modifier for your right thumbstick, alternating between camera position and camera rotation. It sounds easy enough on paper, but I could never quite get comfortable with it – and I found myself just trying to figure things out without rotating whenever I could. Having played the PC version, I knew this was a concession I was making – and I wish there had been different options for this to choose from.

Nevertheless, Shadow Tactics – Blades of the Shogun is still an excellent game, and a must-have for Playstation 4 gamers with an interest in tactical stealth action. It’s mostly real-time, but there’s a planning mode as well to allow you to coordinate attacks with your different characters. This keeps the pace flowing, making it an ideal type of game for console owners. Highly recommend, and remember that if you want to know even more you can check out our PC review here as well.

Score: 8.6/10

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