Early reviews have ruined the legacy of this game.
TBH I never played KA 1 because of abysmal reviews. I am a DIE HARD Total War fan, particularly Medieval 2 and Third Age. I'm also a die hard Tolkien/fantasy fanatic, so this series seemed perfect for me. But because of a stupid number, I held off playing it for years.
Finally KA2 was on sale on Steam for pretty cheap and, despite reviews and because the videos looked so awesome, I was able to pick it up.....last July or so. However, because of COUNTLESS bugs, I was unable to play it until just this week.
It is now VERY apparent to me that a lot of people's complaints were merely technical issues that could, and overall have been, fixed with updates. After EXTENSIVE reading to help with mine, I've learned that most bugs have either been fixed or a work around has been found, and people end up loving the game once they can play it.
Thus, when you're able to truly experience this game, for the first time, for what it really IS and was supposed to be.....wow. This game is great. And I'm no push over when it comes to criticizing games. In fact most think I'm overly harsh. It literally is Shogun 2 TW meets generic text based RPG. Give or take a few, you have tons of the "new" features from Shogun 2 (that from my understanding are not in KA1, for those complaining the gameplay is the same), and that's in both the campaign map and battle UI.
I mean, how cool is it that you can march an army of 2,000 to a nearby enchanted tower to consult with the council of wizards inside on where to find an ancient artifact, so you're directed to take over and search a monastery tucked in the forest which houses this artifact in its dungeon? And all of this on the campaign map. There is no other game out there like this. That is fact. It's reminiscent of the text based RPGs you might have played on your Apple in the 80s/early 90s before PC took over gaming. The decisions you make in these adventures effect the story and your character progression. It is very well done and immersive. Without any CGI cut scenes or action packed explosions. Not easy to do.
Of course it's not perfect. There are still a few short lived technical glitches, but at this point nothing game changing. But hell, every TW game still has bugs, yet those are loved by critics. The way battles work isn't quite the same as TW, which I think is why a lot of people say they're boring. The difference is it's more 1 on 1 instead of TW style where you try to swarm a unit with as many troops as possible. This is a game of stats moreso than numbers...and I think that's what people fail to understand. Also things aren't always explained very well. Random things like features of the campaign map, how a certain system works etc etc. A certain system of diplomacy might be incredibly complex...but you have to teach yourself how to use it. But again, nothing that would make me give it a freaking 5/10!
Bottom line, I've played 600+ hours of TW games and dream nightly for Rome 2. I love these style games. This ain't my first rodeo, cowboy. And if you like those, and RPGs, you simply cannot miss this game. So I'll probably come back and touch up on this once I've beaten it or have at least 50+ hours. It might drop to an 8.5 or 9, but I'm leaving it at 9.5 for now to help with it's unfair reception.
Please play this game. It's awesome.
And also, my main bug was stuttering units on the battlefield. Video settings made no difference. The fix is to open up the KA2 folder from steam/common/apps and launch "CoreTech2_x64_10" instead of the Steam desktop shortcut. Why this works...no clue. But it does. And I am super grateful for it.