Xbox One | 360 | XBLA  PS4 | PS3 | PSN  Wii U | VC    3DS  PS Vita  iOS    PC    Retro    


  » news
  » reviews
  » previews
  » cheat codes
  » release dates
  » screenshots
  » videos

  » specials
  » interviews

  » facebook
  » twitter
  » contests

  » games list
  » franchises
  » companies
  » genres
  » staff
 

Will you buy an Xbox One X on November 7?

Yes
No
Undecided


Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Sega
DEVELOPER:
Sega-AM2
GENRE: Adventure
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
October 29, 2002
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
Shenmue II

Shenmue

 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on July 26, 2002

First Impressions: Continuing the Saga of, ?Will Ryo Hazuki Ever Get Laid??


Yes, it's been quite a long time, but that epic saga that began on the Dreamcast back in 2000 will finally be continued here to us American gamers with the release of Shenmue II for the Xbox. The title is on many Xbox owners must own list, and for good reason. Not only is it going to be everything that made the Dreamcast version so great, but it's also going to be chock-full of some incredible, and highly tempting enhancements. Can you say Xbox caliber graphics, or English voice acting? You bet. Read on for all the details.

For those few gamers who are unfamiliar with Shenmue, I'll give you a brief summary of the series. It all began back in the years of the Saturn; the head of Sega's award winning AM2 division, Yu Suzuki, had, what was considered then to be, a revolutionary idea to make an incredibly interactive game that centered around a compelling story of a boy, Ryo Hazuki, who is after Lan Di, the man responsible for murdering his father in cold blood, right in front of him no less. Unfortunately, the Saturn hardware just wasn't capable of capturing such an ambitious game, so Shenmue was put on hold till the next Sega console arrived, and of course that console turned out to be the mighty Dreamcast. When the game finally released in late 2000, gamers were split in two -- some loved the immersive experience and for others it just didn't attain to their liking, but overall the feeling was that Shenmue was quite a feat. Which is why the bigger, and badder sequel, Shenmue II, was supposed to be the Dreamcast's last big title for the soon to be dead console. But alas, things don't always turn out how you would like them to. Microsoft and Sega finalized a deal that would make Shenmue II an exclusive Xbox title in the U.S., in turn, canceling the scheduled December 2001 release of the Dreamcast version, and leaving DC owners left with? well, nothing.

But that's all in the past, and this is the present day. If Shenmue fans can wipe their eyes for a sec and check out the upcoming release dates they'll notice it's getting closer and closer to Shenmue II's scheduled October 2002 release, and judging by what the Xbox brings to the table, it just might be worth the 10-month wait.

If you played the original Shenmue you should know that the game ended with Ryo hot on Lan Di's trails headed to Hong Kong, China from his native Japan. The game will start you out stepping off the ship into Hong Kong, and from then you're on your own. While by today's standards Shenmue's gameplay isn't anywhere near being as revolutionary as when it first debuted (my God, just look at Morrowind), it's certainly no slouch either. The majority of your time will be spent in the basic Free Quest mode; here you will travel the vast locales, interacting with the environments and non-playable characters, and basically progressing the story along. Then of course there's the what can be considered secondary gameplay elements that come in the form of a Virtua Fighter inspired Free Battle, where you fight enemies in real-time by using a huge variety of punches, kicks, and throws, and the Quick Timer Events (QTE), which really puts your reflexes to the test by throwing up buttons combinations on the screen that you much match within the allotted time frame.. Both of these gameplay elements are used in set events through out the game, and are certainly a welcome break from the dialog driven Free Mode. But if you consider yourself to be fairly into games, you should already know how the infamous Shenmue games play. But if not, be sure to check out my detailed review of the European Import located
here.

Mini games and various jobs are also an essential part of the overall Shenmue experience. Just like in real life, money is of the utmost importance in virtual Hong Kong; whether you need it to rent a hotel room for overnight or to pick up a map for one of the game's multiple locations. And to get it you're going to be required to secure a job doing menial labor, or if you're good at games you can try your luck gabbling, or test your strength (or button mashing skills I should say) arm wrestling. Also, let us not forget that all fun and no play makes Mr. Hazuki a dull boy, which is why you can head to the local arcade and take a spin on 3 of Sega's classic arcade games ? Outrun, Space Harrier, and Afterburner.

So the game in general, that being the story, gameplay, mini-games, etc., are pretty much an exact replica of the Dreamcast version, which might leave you wondering what changes we'll see in the Xbox version. Well, for the most part, the changes are strictly cosmetic. Since AM2 basically just transferred the Dreamcast code over to the Xbox, it is classified as a port. However, this has got to be one of the most graphically improved ports ever. The first thing you'll notice is that the textures have been improved 10-fold, and now feature a very sharp, hi-res look. Don't seem like too much of a big deal till you factor in the fact that everything in the game has been given this treatment, leaving for a drastically more detailed, and cleaner appearance. Everything from the hundreds of character that litter the streets to the multiple building structures that make up the locations, it's all looking stunning. AM2 has also made some use of the Xbox's pixel-shaders, in turn giving even more life to the already amazing environments. Problems that plagued the Dreamcast version should also be addressed. For example, the massive slowdown that happened when multiple character were on screen just shouldn't be seen in this Xbox version. In the end, Shenmue II for the Xbox is looking much better than it's Dreamcast counterpart, but it's to be interesting to see how it stacks up against other games that were build from the ground up for the console.

As for the sound, well, along with the already amazing orchestrated, Asian influenced musical score, you'll be happy to know that the English voice talents are back and doing their thing once again. Which means we don't have to listen to a bunch of Japanese as we read the dialog. Whether this is good or bad (some of the English voice acting was questionable in the first), you should have the option of going through the game either way, which should be no problem considered all the extra memory the DVD format brings to the series (the game should easily fit onto one DVD disk, eliminating the need for 3 or 4 different CDs). 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound is supported, but only in the game's many cinematic sequences.

Final Thoughts
It's been a long time coming, but Shenmue II is almost officially here in the U.S., and even as a person that imported the U.K. version months ago, I'm still extremely excited about the game and I'm going to pick it up for it's many Xbox style enhancements. But the question remains, should you pick it up? I'd say most definitely. I've played the game and I can tell you that it's leagues better than the original in terms of it's huge size, as well as the many different gameplay improvements. And when you throw in Xbox quality visuals and bring the English voice acting back into the mix, it should make it that much better. Mark your calendars for this one guys, it's going to be a great ride!


User Comments

Middle-earth: Shadow of War Review - Return to Mordor to Try and Stop Sauron


HEX: Card Clash Arrives on PS4 From Hex Entertainment


Nintendo Rolls Out Firmware 4.0 for the Switch Bringing New Features to the Console


Cities: Skylines Green Cities Now Available From Paradox


Fire Emblem Warriors Arrives on Nintendo Switch and 3DS Tomorrow


Syberia 1 and 2 Will Be On Nintendo Switch This Fall From Microids


Nintendo eShop Set to Get 15 More Games for the Nintendo Switch


Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2 Now Available


Nintendo Switch Tops the NPD Charts Again for Month of September


Star Ocean: The Last Hope 4K Remaster Coming to PS4 and PC in December






Home    •    About Us    •    Contact Us    •    Advertise    •    Jobs    •    Privacy Policy    •    Site Map
Copyright ©1999-2012 Matt Swider. All rights reserved. Site Programming copyright © 2004 Bill Nelepovitz - NeositeCMS