Sega/Shin Force

Sega/Shin Force > Systems > Sega Dreamcast > Games > Shenmue

Shin Force ~ Dreamcast ~
Shenmue :: Review
3x GD
Import / Domestic
Dec. 29, 1999
Nov. 8, 2000 
1st/3rd Person
Backup (80)
Jump Pack
     > Yu Suzuki, head of Sega's famed AM2 development team, has spent most of his time making original arcade games -- many of which have been converted to Sega consoles.  Who could forget games like Space Harrier, Out Run, After Burner II, Daytona USA, and Virtua Fighter 3?  For his most ambitious effort to date, Yu Suzuki has been given the necessary time and budget to create an epic original Dreamcast series...  Shenmue!

     > Shenmue is poised to usher in a new genre known as FREE (Free Reactive Eyes Entertainment).  It's basically a go anywhere, see everything, real time action, multi-faceted interaction extravaganza!  Add in mini games, arcade games, Quick Time Events (QTE), Quick Time Battles (QTB), and mucho collectable items to produce many hours of varied gameplay.

     > You are Ryo Hazuki.  Your main objective in life is to find the man responsible for murdering Iwao Hazuki, your father.  What is the connection between your father and his murderer... the Dragon Mirror and Phoenix Mirror??  Lan Di, the mysterious leader of a criminal organization, is the man you seek...

     > Forget about importing this one from Japan.  There's too much speech and information to be discovered.  It has collector's value only, unless you're fluent in Japanese.  The only other reason to import would be for the "Omake" files.

     > Groundbreaking.  Superb.  Yu Suzuki and company spent a lot of time on this game and it shows right from the start.  The entire game is presented in real-time, ultra smooth, polygon generated uber-graphics.  Loading is kept to an acceptable level, even though the game switches locales, and gameplay modes.

     >  Speaking of locales, they're awe inspiring.  Everything from time of day to weather changes on-the-fly.  The sheer magnitude of each section is amazing.  There are lots of buildings, animated characters, vehicles, and even wildlife.  It's a virtual world, and you can explore it all.

     > While exploring, you'll mainly use the third person view (which works really well).  You can use the first person view to get a closer look at your surroundings, or to gain perspective.  If you get into a QTE or QTB, then a floating view (usually side) graces the screen.  While fighting in a QTB, I have experienced situations where the view was not optimal.  It doesn't detract much from the overall game though. 

     > Your view of the surroundings is almost as impressive as seeing the many characters.  Eyes move and change size, individual fingers flex, and general character animation is excellent.  In addition, the polygon models and textures combine to make the game's characters come alive!  And to think, AM2 promises much improved graphics in Shenmue 2!

     > Interaction is the name of this game.  You can talk to, fight with, purchase, climb, pet, look at, play with, ride on, manipulate/utilize, and/or examine just about everything in the Shenmue world!  All of this is accomplished with surprising ease.  There are really too many activities (to occupy your time) in this game for me to list them all.  I'll just go over the prominent stuff.

     > Most of the time you'll be looking for certain people, clues, or items by talking to a multitude citizens throughout the various locales.  Sometimes you're supposed to call somebody at a certain time.  Other times you may be asked to meet someone, somewhere, at a specific time.  You're always free to blow some time playing games, gambling, or collecting items (like Saturn games, which can be used at your in-game home).  Every so often you'll enter the QTE mode, where quick controller inputs decide the fate of your current situation.  There's also a reason to practice fighting moves.  In the QTB mode, you'll have to fight in real time against one or more opponents!  These QTBs play a lot like Virtua Fighter.  Heck, you'll even get job in this game...

     > Overall, the soundtrack is relaxing.  The music fits your given situation, and spans the full spectrum of high and low tempo.  The main Shenmue theme, with its decidedly oriental theme, is quite enjoyable and memorable.  By comparison, music is the weakest part of the game (and it's great nonetheless).

     > As expected, nearly everything makes a realistic noise.  For example, cats meow, dogs bark, motorcycles rumble, sliding doors swoosh, arcade systems play entice music, and footsteps clap.  The main effect of concern is the voice acting.  Yes, it's very good.  That's a relief, as speech is included in every conversation.  Oh yeah, environmental effects are great too.

     > There is so much to do in Shenmue.  It's really four games in one: adventure, QTE/QTB, games/gambling, and collecting.  The first two are necessary -- the second two add greatly to your enjoyment.  Being a collector of various things in real life, I do appreciate this part of the game.  I just wish Ine (Ryo's housekeeper) would give Ryo more than 500 Yen a day for an allowance!

     > Shenmue's adventure is fairly straight forward.  QTEs and QTBs are automatic, once you're time and location are proper.  Along the way, there are usually multiple paths to the same objective.  Even so, you're hardly ever wondering what to do next -- and that's the way I like it.  Any way you cut it, many hours of Sega-created fun await your controller.

Bottom Line
     > Yu Suzuki's creative masterpiece was worth every (much-advertised) delay.  Shenmue's graphics and scope have no competition.  With so many activities and events to enjoy, you may never fully complete this game.  FREE is here to stay...  Now bring on the next adventure!
Overall: 9.9 | Graphics: 10 | Control: 10 | Sound: 9.5 | Fun: 10
~ Shinobi ~

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