Review by Fazzle

Reviewed: 11/24/00 | Updated: 11/24/00

Now, before you all flame me, let me explain..

Just how long HAS it been since all the Shenmue hype started up? Personally, I couldn't tell you, because it's been seemingly forever. Now comes the big question...has it lived up to it? In a word: NO! ''But...But...Shenmue is perfect!'' cries the gaming masses. So what? The gaming masses are sheep. Anything that gets a lot of hype will be initially loved, despite being horrible. I mean, just look at Final Fantasy VIII, it was HORRIBLE, but because it was made by Square, and it had a lot of hype, it was loved. Only now, since they have another FF, do the gaming masses strike out against FF VIII.

Sorry, went off on a rant there. But the cases of hype = loads of good reviews and no free independent thought are always gonna be here for people to mock. Now, since I'm done ranting, I'll continue my mission of showing you why Shenmue is NOT perfect.

Graphics: 9/10

Yes, that's correct, I'm NOT giving Shenmue a perfect 10 for graphics. Yes, these are the best graphics I've ever seen in a video game, but that still doesn't make them PERFECT, and that's what you need for a perfect 10.

Like I said, the graphics are the best I've ever seen. The settings are wonderful to just look at. The shops, the streets, the sky, the backgrounds, everything in the settings look great. The interiors of places are also really well designed. And then we get to the characters, and that's where we get our flaws. They are also greatly designed, however there are flaws. Whenever they show you a closeup of a hand, all the fingers are WAY too blocky. They don't round, they square. Also, Tom is easily the worst designed character in the game. It looks like the designers threw him together in 10 minutes. Need any proof? Just look at his hair, fuzzier than most N64 or PSX games. His glasses are also designed shoddily. Yes, this might be nitpicking, but you NEED to nitpick, and make sure something deserves a perfect 10 rating.

Sound/Music: 6/10

Maybe I should have rated this in two different categories, because the Music in the game is great, however the sound is HORRIBLE.

The music in the game isn't necessarily stuff I would listen to on a normal day, but it fits the mood very well. Off of the top of my head, I can think of no bad music in the entire game, and the music on the romantic motorcycle scene(can't do spoilers, you people who played it know what I'm talking about :) ) is my favorite song in the game.

But then we travel to the other end of the spectrum: the sound. Simply put, this is some of the worst voice acting I've ever seen. I hope Sega didn't actually pay these people for this job. The voice actors show NO emotion whatsoever, and deliver their lines in the most awkward way possible, pausing at exactly the wrong times. To put it another way: This is porno movie level acting. You know, just say your lines and get them out of the way. And because of this, it's very difficult to get sucked into the emotional part of the storyline.

Control: 9/10

The control scheme is simple, and easy to navigate with, however it also presents problems, especially with the R-trigger. Numerous times you will find the game constantly locking on to something you didn't want it to, and this gets frustrating very quickly. In addition to this, even a little tap of the pad can cause Ryo to move a full 90 degrees, or even more, which can also be very frustrating when you're trying to just make a small turn.

Gameplay: 4/10

Let me just get anything out of the way: Despite what others might want you to believe, you can NOT go anywhere and do anything in this game. As a matter of fact, the game is very limiting as to what you can do. You can't use an inventory item unless it has an actual purpose where you are. You can't enter people's houses for no reason. You can't eat, unless it's lunch time. You can drink all you want...but yet you NEVER have to go to the bathroom.

The NPCs in this game are horribly uncommunicative. Well over half of them will just tell you they're busy, and won't talk to you. And as for the others that you can talk to, about half of them won't be able to help you at all. And then when you weed out that group, the last remaining section of useful NPCs always say the same thing when you ask them about something. You would think after saying the same response for the 20th time, the NPCs would just tell you to leave them alone.

Despite all these complaints about the gameplay though...I was having loads of fun, and I loved the game......until the 3rd disc. The third GD-ROM killed the game for me. The third disc is all business. The only reason the game was fun was because you could screw around if you wanted to. You could go as quickly or as slowly as you wanted and still have fun. But the third disc destroyed the fun aspect. The third disc decided, ''ok, you've had your fun, now it's time to do what we want you to do.'' Gameplay in the 3rd GD-ROM is 100% linear, and they don't even TRY to mask it. At least they masked it fairly well in the first 2 discs by giving you a chance to not follow the path.

My final complaint in the gameplay department: Difficulty. This game is FAR too easy. I rented this game Tuesday(the 21st) afternoon, I didn't get to play this game more than an hour or so on Thanksgiving(the 23rd), and I had it beat by Friday(the 24th) afternoon. An epic game does NOT take just over 2 days to beat. An epic game should be longer than that, it should FEEL like an epic.

Satisfaction: 0/10

That's right, NO satisfaction whatsoever. First off, there's NEVER too much satisfaction in a game that is so simplistic and short, but there's normally at least SOME. So why does this game get the big goose egg? The ending absolutely blows! I realize they couldn't do a huge, big ending, because they need something for the rest of the chapters. However, there is NO sense of closure whatsoever at the end of the game. You don't feel like you've accomplished anything. You just get a feeling of ''What...that's IT?'' after you see the ''grand'' ending. It just feels like a big commercial that translates into ''Hey kid! Start bugging your parents for Shenmue 2 RIGHT NOW! NOW! NOW! LEAVE! BUG THEM NOW!''

Replay Value: 3/10

Only 2 words can explain why I gave this a 3, instead of a 0: Shenmue Passport. That is the only reason why anyone would want to play this game again after beating it. To see how high their scores are compared to the world's. FYI, my best score is QTE Title, I don't remember what it was(something around the 256,000 range,) but it was 830th in the world, and 18th in the state of North Carolina.

But as for the actual game, I'd be real skeptical of anyone wanting to play through the whole thing over again.

Closing Comments
Despite everything I've said in this review, I'd still recommend Shenmue to people. It's a good experience at least. And it's fun....until the 3rd disc. Shenmue probably will revolutionize gaming, but this is just the start, NOT the pinnacle.

Final Score: 5/10

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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