Review by JGosnell

"Shenmue is a world in its own for you to explore and enjoy."

Shenmue: A world on its own

What is like when a game is so real you find yourself comparing your every day life to it? 10
This is what happened to me after playing three days of Shenmue. I know you are probably saying is this guy sick, that is only if you have not played the game. It may seem as though no game is so real you would compare your life to it rather than comparing it to your life but my friends all of this has changed.
To start out Shenmue takes place in Japan and has a long and complicated story. In short the games main character Ryo Hazuki comes home to find his father in battle with a mysterious warrior. Ryo watches his father killed after giving the location of some mirror. This is where you take the role of Ryo. The game begins with you wandering around the streets asking questions about the day of the incident. This may not seem like anything new for a game but oh do you have a lot to learn. The home where Ryo lives are more then most games have to offer. It is filled with various rooms and all these rooms have a specific purpose. In these rooms you can turn on lights and pray to Buddha even pull out the old Saturn. Also Ryo has a collection of cassettes featuring music that can be listened to. Also there is a dojo to explore where you can brush up on your martial arts skills. Although it’s when you journey from the house is where the fun lies. First you leave and go to Yamanose a small area with houses and a few residents. Here is where you meet the kitten that you can choose to care for the remainder of the game. After this area you go to Sakuragowa another small area but larger with a park and more homes. After that you enter the main area Doubita. This is the city area equipped with hot dog stands restaurants and more. The best part is you can interact with anything in this area. Go into the arcade pop in some change and play all day. Go to the market where you can buy tapes and more. This world is detailed you begin to think you are actually there. This is where the game excels.
I guess you cannot talk about Shenmue with out mentioning the QTE segments where you must use your reactions to make decisions that affect the outcome of the game. These happen at various areas when an arrow or button flash across the screen with directions on what to do. These may seem repetitive but they are not. There are actually not a whole lot of these events and when they come you are normally surprised and may have to do it again.
Then there are the free battles. They play out a lot like a fighting game. You have a set group of maneuvers that you can practice in the dojo. Throughout the course of the game you will learn new moves and gain experience to train in a series of moves you have available to learn. These moves come into play during the free battles were you fight from one to many enemies in hopes of defeating them.
The variety of the battles is well mixed and then during the game you acquire a position as o forklift driver. Here you get to race each morning and then carry out your normal duties for pay. All that and no mention of the time cycle. Yes Shenmue runs on its own set of time. The watch on Ryos arm can tell you the time but if you have to meet someone at a specific time you better be there. Also there is a scene when you get to rescue your girlfriend on a motorcycle. All this comes down to the best video game ending ever.
Calling Shenmue a game is wrong. It is more of a trip into a virtual world filled with surprises and interactivity. If you are fans in the least of any video game try this out or if you are someone who has always been skeptical about video games this might be a good way to get your feet wet in this type of entertainment.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/30/00, Updated 11/30/00

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