Review by moogle_eater_89

"Truly an Epic Game"

Project Berkley (aka Shenmue) is one of the most widely played cult video games of recent times. This may have to do with the fact that it has much to offer. Some look at this, and find it to be a work of art. Others view it as self-indulging and sentimental. I personally look at it as neither of those things, but as a showcase of what can be done with technology, similar to the Titanic, and celebrating Japanese & Chinese cultures. Shenmue was probably started sometime in the mid 1990s. It wasn't called Shenmue yet, but it did have some Virtua Fighter-type association. The project became more ambitious with the coming of the Dreamcast, and many viewed it to be the game that would bring Sega back into the console wars it had done many years ago.

Visually, Shenmue is probably the most impressive game for the Dreamcast, even compared to its sequel, which although being a much larger environment to traverse, is ultimately less detailed. As a whole, the graphics aren't bad, aside from a few glitches with the polygons. Another criticism I have for it pertains to the texturing of certain people & items. Another problem with the graphics are that the Non-Playable Characters often fade in & out when you get close to them or vice-versa. However, when you go outside when it's raining, it actually looks like it's raining. The actual environments themselves are also very well done.

Not sure who composed the score, but they're pretty good. The most notable tracks in the game are probably the songs played during the Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment quest, as well as some cutscenes. There are some Sega tapes (not games), but mock tapes you can also listen to. There are some other songs played by the items themselves, like in minigames. The rest of the music will come out when you engage in a Quick Timer Event or FREE battle.

This is where this game is hotly contested. The gameplay in this game has many facets. Although this is true, many consider the bulk of the action to be mediocre at best. Others have claimed that it's void of action. This is where I personally disagree. What some people don't seem to realize is that walking through the districts, and talking to people is what the bulk of the game is about. Maybe this isn't for everyone. If so, move on and play something else.

This game plays somewhat uniquely. Although the protagonist is a human character, his movement is like that of a vehicle where a button (L trigger in this case) is what gets him moving. Of course most RPGs have the character move with the analog thumbstick(s) or D-pad. The D-pad will move him, but only at a slow pace. Another interesting feature is what the thumbstick in this case actually does, which in this case moves his head (in order for you to see the sky, etc).

Does this game measure up to all the hype associated with it? Probably not. I'll be the first to say that parts of this game are quite dry. Many people blame this on the pacing, which does improve later on in the game and story.

This is probably not a game you or others will want to look at constantly. Some people (myself included) enjoy this game during the winter holidays due to the time of year. Others will enjoy it at other times or not even at all.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 04/27/09

Game Release: Shenmue (US, 11/07/00)

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