So get this. Samurai Warriors 2 Empires is actually the third game in the Warriors Empires series, but it's the fifth game in the Samurai Warriors series, and about the 19th game in the overall Warriors series, depending on how many spin-offs you include when you're counting. But despite that 2 in the title, it's actually the first Samurai Warriors Empires title, which means it's the first time that Koei have applied the strategic dimension introduced in Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires and refined in Dynasty Warriors 5 to the Japanese setting of the Samurai Warriors series. Got that?
It's the sort of sequelitis that leaves most reviewers staring glassy-eyed before they've even started playing the game, their enthusiasm sapped by the prospect of yet another battlefield strategy action epic. It shouldn't. Although they certainly do contain their fair share of overpopulated battlefields to hack and slash your way through, the games in the Empires series are quite different from the regular Warriors titles. For starters, the dynamic battlefield strategy of the regular games is wrapped up in a more sedate and cerebrally challenging, Risk-like turn-based strategy game.
The object of the game is to challenge rival clans for control over Japan's 25 warring territories, with various scenarios providing different starting conditions. Each turn sees you execute a number of orders. Domestic policies keep the populace happy and pacified, or raise income. You can then use that income to hire or train more troops or officers, or to improve your army's weaponry. Or you can engage in diplomatic measures signing treaties and forming alliances, or conducting trade with distant territories. It's all very intuitive stuff, made more so by your leading generals, who provide plenty of helpful advice. You are, of course, free to ignore them though. Instead you can just choose from one of 90 policy cards that are gradually unlocked over the course of the game, with each card representing a different order (and 50 cards inspired by the game's Japanese setting and distinct from previous Empires games, apparently).