Review by Gruel
"Sega ends the year 2000 for Dreamcast with this great title!"
Ok, here it is, one of Sega's most anticipated Dreamcast games of all time. Now Sega was on a role on 2000 with such hits like Jet Grind Radio, Space Channel 5, Sega GT, Skies of Arcadia, and Virtua Tennis. Will it end the year with a bang with the action-RPG type game, Shenmue: Chapter 1: Yokosuka? Let's get onto the review and find out.
Now I got the American version of the game, and I heard there are some differences in the names between the American and Japanese character names. Any ways, The main character of the game is Ryo Hazuki, and the game starts off in December 1986 with an evil Chinese villain by the name of Lan Di, murdering Ryo's father right in front of him. Then Ryo goes on a quest to avenge his fathers death, meeting an exciting cast of characters throughout his journey and performing many other side quests.
These are, without a shadow of a doubt, the best visuals ever in a console game to grace my eyes! Yes, better than anything I've seen on the technologically better Playstation 2! The characters are detailed to the extreme. Of course you can tell they are characters from a video game, but they're probably the closest thing to real life you've ever seen. Heck, the FMV's in the game aren't even that distinguishable from the main game play engine. Talk about great, this is Dreamcast at it's peak in power folks. You can make out the tiniest of details on all the characters, like the band-aid on Ryo's face, the sunglasses and beads on Tom. The environments in the game are also another thing to gaze over, you'll be surprised by how realistic all the buildings and surroundings around you are.
And the animation is just marvelous. I mean, the people actually look like they're walking, and the voice acting is near perfect with the animation of the lips of the people in the game. Now don't go riding on me after I admit this, but, the fighting animation for all the moves in here is even better than the stuff I've seen in other 3-D fighters like Tekken Tag Tournament and Dead or Alive 2, and that is because this game's free battle fighting engine is as close to real life as it gets. All the moves executed by Ryo are fluid, and most resemble real life moves.
The game has a couple of old emulated arcade games in here like Hang-On and Space Harrier, and they seem like a perfect translation. All the menus and sub screens in the game can be navigated with ease, with no problems whatsoever. The only problem I had at all with the visuals is that sometimes, while you're riding the forklift while working at the harbor in the game, there tends to be occasional slowdown occurring throughout your work shift. It gets a little bit on the tedious side, but nothing major.
Don't get me started on sound! Oh, wait I'm doing a review here, so I guess I have no other choice. The game has some great, Japanese oriented tunes throughout the game, but there's also many other tunes that don't sound Japanese at all. So don't feel like any ethnic races are being left out at all, there's also many cassette tapes to buy in the game that have many different variations of music to be found on there like Rap, Pop, Reggae, and many others. The sound effects are also done to perfection in the game, you can hear everything just as it is in real life from walking to rain drops. But the main thing of interest in the audio department is the voice acting. It will just simply blow it away! This is nothing to the crappy voice acting found in other Sega games like Sonic Shuffle and House of the Dead 2. This stuff is actually pretty good! I don't know if the voice actors were, or weren't, but most of them sound like they have Japanese accents to me. I mean, all the characters have voices in the game, and all of them have many different sayings! Kudos to Sega on the amount of voices they worked on fitting in the game. This is just the best sound I've heard in any game, hands down!
The game has a unique control scheme. At first, I'd really think you could wander around in 3-D using the control stick, but instead you got to use the control pad to move around, it is kind of awkward at first, but you'll get use to it; the control stick is use to rotate the camera around you. You interact with people and buildings by pressing A, and you run by holding the L trigger. You can also ride two different vehicles in the game, which are the motorcycle and the forklift, which are fairly easy to control. My only gripe with the controls are that they aren't customizable.
The game has a few core ingredients in its game engine. Now besides wandering around in 3-D, you do get in occasional battles, and there are two ways of battling. The first one you'll encounter is the Quick Time Event, or more frequently referred to as QTE, in QTE, you press a certain button at a precise moment to dodge an object, nail an object, or connect with a move or your own. QTE is used many times throughout the game in battles, and other storyline parts of the game.
The other main factor of the game engine is the Free Battle engine, where you fight multiple foes in a real, 3-D environment, you can do normal punches and kicks, but by pressing certain button combinations, you can perform much more powerful moves. As you progress throughout the game you learn more moves from different mentors that will help you out later in the game. To perfect the moves you can practice for a certain amount of time to perfect them, the more you practice, the more damage your moves do.
This game also has many side quests for you to do in the game. Like helping out an injured cat making a healthy recovery and helping out a bum by getting him a warm beverage. You also got a plethora of mini games at your disposal with Sega classics like Hang On and Space Harrier. Plus other games like Forklift races, darts, and even a slot house.
Well, all the mini games and side quests should give you more than enough reasons to be playing this game for a great deal of time. Also if you collect certain items in games you can use the Shenmue Passport GD-ROM included in the game to exchange the item for downloadable goodies in the game, or you can do other things on the passport disc like learn information about the games key elements from the games characters, and view all the movies you've seen so far in the game. You can also post your high scores for certain mini games like Hang On, Space Harrier, and Darts also here, and visit the official Shenmue web site. The only downside about the game is that it really doesn't take that long to beat, like it only took me approximately 25 hours to beat it my first time through, without any help from strategy guides at all. But there's more than enough extras here to make up for that flaw.
+: The best visuals and audio in any game ever, The free battle system is just simply the best thing on earth, lots of mini games and extras for you to tinker with
-: No customizable control, Game really doesn't take that long to beat
The Final Ratings Rundown
Game play: 9.8
Replay Value: 9.4
Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 10
Guys, this is the best action/platformer/RPG/whatever it is game on the Dreamcast! Sega did an All-Star job. This is one of the truly great single player games I've played in a long time and shouldn't be passed up. So what are you waiting for? Go buy this game now!
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 03/06/01, Updated 03/06/01
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