Shin Force | Sega Dreamcast Review
Shin Force
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Shin Force ~ Dreamcast ~
 Shenmue II
4x GD
6x GD (Limited Edition)
Sep. 6, 2001 (Japan)
Dec. 1, 2001 (Europe)
1st/3rd Person
Backup 18+4
50% (JPN)
100% (EUR)
     > It's been a long time coming, but the latest Shenmue adventure has been unleashed.  Unfortunately for USA Dreamcast owners, Microsoft has paid the bucks to make sure that Shenmue II is exclusive to Xbox.  All is not lost though, as Sega of Europe has localized the subtitles and released it there.  All you need is an import converter, if you don't already have one, and you're good-to-go.  Of course you could always get the Limited Edition Japanese release, which comes complete with a Virtua Fighter/VF4 history and preview disc, plus a Virtua Fighter 4 Passport!  Anyway, Yu Suzuki's Virtua Fighter-esque FREE (Free Reactive Eyes Entertainment) extravaganza continues.  Can Ryo find and defeat the evil Lan Di???
     > I knew Yu was aiming higher with this sequel and he succeeded wonderfully.  I thought the first Shenmue had great graphics, but this game is a step above that.  There is a price you pay for this detail and animation, as the game is sluggish at times while wandering around the streets of Hong Kong.  Fear not though because the Quick Time Events and Battles are smooth as silk.

     > Probably the most impressive visual feature is the characters themselves.  Their motions are fluid and natural.  Close ups are impressive, especially when you see facial expressions and detailed polygon rendered bodies.  There are so many different characters, and most of them are quite distinct.  For instance, Joy is the red-orange haired woman that befriends Ryo right from the start.  When she rides in on her ninja bike it's so realistic and smooth!!  The waiving hair; the glint in her eyes; the voluptuous curves -- "Yeah Baby!!"  Then you see her get off the bike and walk around with you -- all on the fly!  Simply amazing.  As you know, this game takes place in Hong Kong, and that is a sight to behold as well.

     > The city locales are much more detailed than the first adventure.  I remember the first time I crossed the bridge over King's Street, and saw four lanes of busy traffic flowing at all times!!  Talk about feeling like you're there.  The maps are more intricate as well, complete with more alleys and branches.  Thanks for adding a map feature Yu!  Inside buildings, the detail is just as impressive.  And of course, almost every building and street has a constant natural flow of citizens going about their business.

     > Basically the same awesome gameplay from the first Shenmue, plus a few new goodies.  Naturally, this sequel includes a plethora of new fighting moves to master.  It's up to you to find someone to spar with, and a place to practice as well.  When appropriate, you can ask about finding work, which is very necessary while you're in a foreign country without a stash of cash.  Jobs include physical labor and gambling operations.  You can also make money by arm wrestling and pawning items.  Rest assured, all these activities are easy to master, and quite intuitive.  If at any time you're not sure how to control something, just press the "Start" button for a detailed explanation.  Also, if you bought a map for a particular area, it automatically gets overlaid on your main view.
     > Many of the same musical scores are carried over into the sequel, which is a good thing.  The new (and old) songs blend together perfectly and are customized for the situation.  Environmental effects abound and add to your realistic experience.  I love the sound of pigeons attempting to fly away as your run them down!  Heheh...  Probably my only real complaint would be the somewhat cheesy footstep effect you hear from time to time.  At any rate, please release another official soundtrack Sega!
     > As with the prequel, Shenmue II is loaded with activities which simulate real life.  One of the things I really like about this game (to an even higher degree than the original), is the fact that you're never really in a position where your next task is unclear.  You can always check your diary and simply talk to someone to get hints on what to do, or where to go.  AM2 even added NPC's that will physically guide you to your destination!  Of course, the character interaction, fighting sequences, and story line are the main attraction.  Once you get started on this FREE adventure, you'll be sucked in until the end.
Bottom Line
     > Buy this game.  Collectors will surely gobble up the Japanese Limited Edition release.  If you want to get somewhere within a reasonable time, however, then get the European version.  I would recommend either Electronics Boutique <> or NCS <> to buy this game.
Overall: 9.9 | Graphics: 10 | Control: 10 | Sound: 9.5 | Fun: 10
~ Shinobi ~