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Platform

Dreamcast

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

Sega

 

Developer

AM2

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2000

 

 

- Excellent graphics

- Very good music and sound effects

- Interesting, varied gameplay

- Contains both Space Harrier and Hang-On

- Good story

 

 

- Slow paced

- Big breaks in the action

- Inconsistent voice acting

 

 

Review: Shenmue 2 (Dreamcast)

Review: Virtue Fighter 3tb (Dreamcast)

 

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Shenmue

Score: 8.3 / 10

 

Yu Suzukiís latest brainchild for the Dreamcast is a very interesting title. Being a mix of many different genres in terms of gameplay, and striking a balance between interactive fiction and solid gaming, Shenmue is a very unique title. Gameplay is interspersed with a large amount of cinematics, wondering around looking for answers, and action. The game is meant more to be experienced than played as its flow is unlike any game out there. Between its incredible presentation and unique gameplay Shenmue is a very engaging title, but it isnít for everyone, as its slow pace will boring for some.

 

Shenmue Dreamcast Review   Shenmue Dreamcast Review   Shenmue Dreamcast Review

 

The game takes place in Japan in 1986 and centers on Ryo Hazuki. One day he comes home to find his home in shambles and a mysterious man in a green robe with a dragon on it kill his father, then steal an old mirror Ryoís dad had hidden away. Ryo is very upset by this and vows to avenge his fatherís death, and so the game begins. As the story progresses it is very halted. Certain things happen at certain times of day and thereís a fair bit of travel time for Ryo to get from one point to another; because of this the gameís story is very halted, which hurts the pace of the title.

 

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Right from the start Shenmueís presentation is spectacular. Yes, itís a next gen console title and a high standard is expected from such a gameís visuals, but Sega has really outdone themselves with this game. The environments are incredibly intricately detailed. There are all sorts of objects strewn across the rooms and buildings that Ryo explores. Adding to the outdoor environments is the gameís "Magic Weather" effect, where different types of weather occur randomly as the days pass. Sometimes itís sunny out, while other 

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days it may be snowing, or there may be a torrential downpour. The effect looks really convincing (though people donít appear wet), and does a lot to add to the look of the game. The most amazing aspect of the gameís visuals is the characters though. Their faces look almost photo-realistic theyíre so detailed. On top of this their clothing, the way they walk, their animated gestures, most everything about how they look and carry themselves is very, very realistic. Shenmue really shows how far visuals have come in games and hopefully many other developers will take a cue from the title when thinking about the detail in their own titles.

Unfortunately the sound doesnít perform quite as well as the gameís visuals. The music is very good both in terms of the quality of its writing and the quality of the instrumentation. The sound effects are also very well done, with lots of ambient noises floating through the air in the different areas. However the voice acting is a very mixed bag. Most of the main characters perform well, but the secondary people that Ryo must interact with sound very forced. Part of this is due to certain phrases being entered into the conversations that cause a momentary pause in speech. Itís not the end of the world, but the lackluster voice work canít be overlooked.

Shenmue Dreamcast Review          Shenmue Dreamcast Review

That which sets this game apart from the crowd, however, is its gameplay. Itís an unusual mix of adventure, fighting, role playing, and action. A lot of time is spent wandering the streets, talking to the locals, gathering information that Ryo may find useful in his quest to avenge his fatherís death. This can be a very slow process, as there are some events that can only take place at certain times of the day, so the player has to find something to do to kill time while waiting for a said hour to come. Thereís things to do that can keep the player occupied, like having Ryo practice his martial arts, going to the arcade, or chatting with the locals, but itís still a slow process that some wonít want to deal with. Another major aspect of Shenmueís gameplay is its "Quick Timer Events" (QTE) which play out like the old Dragonís Lair and Space Ace games of the 80s where players had to hit the controls in response to prompts on the screen. The fun thing about these QTEs is that they come flying out of no where. One minute Ryo is walking along, minding his own business, the next he has to deftly dodge an incoming soccer ball, or his in a fight, or some other event happens. Itís a great way to keep players on their toes. There are many other modes of play, like brawling thugs, or playing classic games at the arcade (it has full versions of Space Harrier and Hang-On). By and large there are quite a few different game modes in Shenmue, the only thing hurting the titleís gameplay is its slow points.

Shenmue is a very different game in how it hybridizes genres, while throwing in a very cinematic experience. Those who like a nice, slow paced mystery to sink their teeth into will enjoy this title. Those who prefer something fast wonít find it here.

Reviewed by Mr. Nash

 

(December 29, 2000)

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