Review by vihena

Reviewed: 12/03/02 | Updated: 12/03/02

C'mon people! An UNBIASED opinion, please!!

I've noticed that a lot of reviews of this game are extremely biased. ''Greatest Game in the World'' doesn't work for me.
I'm not one to bash games, or am I one to overly praise and hype-up a game. What you need to hear, if you are thinking about buying this game, is an honest and unbiased review.

Graphics: 5/10
This game is pretty much an exact conversion of the original Dreamcast game, so the graphics, gameplay, sound, pretty much everything, is outdated. Those that loved the first Shenmue will love this game. The models are direct ports with absolutely no improvement from the very
first Shenmue, I would say.
The anti-aliasing, and resolution is higher and better on the X-box, but that's as ''enhanced'' as it gets. Plus the X-box's processor makes slowdown non-existent. A problem that frequently occurred on the Dreamcast version.
On a Dreamcast, all this was heaven-sent. But since this is an X-box, the graphics are considered dated and poor.
In my opinion, the game would have had a greater appeal if they had overhauled the graphics. Considering most of the engine had to be re-written anyway, why not?

Sound: 8/10
Music: 6/10
Voice: 1/10
The sound is amazing. When you're walking the streets, you feel the atmosphere, the bustling marketplaces, the children running. Standing in the middle of the martial arts dojo with the students practicing their moves is very cool. If you have a surround setup, this game will draw you in with its ambient sounds.

Music on the other hand, has much to be desired. Most of it is serene, repetitive, and kind of stupid music. It tries to put an ''Chinese'' flavor into it, and fails miserably. Horribly, and annoyingly.
The cutscene music score is done extremely well, though, and fits with each scene spectacularly.

The voice acting is HORRID! HORRID! Everyone sounds like they're reading from a script. All the main characters (with the exception of a very minor few) sound emotionless and stupid. Some of them (Joy, for example) sound just outright ANNOYING! The unfortunate thing is that there are no Japanese dialogue options. Everything is in English. The only saving grace is they found voice actors that have voices almost identical to their Japanese counterparts. Unfortunately, they also speak bad Japanese, and bad Mandarin. To fix the bad Japanese names problem, the original Japanese sound samples were used, and you may notice a very slight variation in tone. ''My name is ... -Ryo, Hazuki-''

Controls: 4/10 & 8/10
With the clunky X-box controller matching the Dreamcast, control isn't exactly the greatest to begin with. Shenmue 2 adds to that clunkiness with a stiff character. Ryo looks and moves like a wood board, and in some ways, worse than Lara Croft did. (At least Lara could sidestep). The way the controls are initially set up are rather awkward, and do not allow for precision movement. So you may find yourself getting caught in narrow spaces, and find it difficult to align Ryo to go in a specific direction.
Fortunately, most of the streets are wide enough that it's not an issue, but you will get caught in doors, or find difficulty maneuvering around to talk to specific people.

The fighting controls though, are very tight and extremely responsive. The fighting is easy enough that any beginner will be able to pick it up and beat the crap out of thugs with ease. Moves are also easy to pull off. It's very much like Virtua Fighter, and those that have played much of it will find themselves right at home.

Gameplay: 4/10
This game was hyped up way too much, and many people that have never played Shenmue before (such as myself) were disappointed with the shallowness of the game. I bought the game because a friend of mine swears by it. Finding that it was a ''walk & talk'' game turned me off. But I paid for it.
The fighting parts were really cool, but not enough for me to give this a good rating. In a way, the ''walk & talk'' has certain appeal to it. It's something you really have to try yourself to see.

Story: 8/10
Without a doubt, the ''continuing saga'' of Ryo Hazuki is a wonder-filled, emotional drama that plays out extremely well with excellent music, and a deep storyline that cannot be missed. It's difficult these days to find a game with as great a storyline. The basis is simple: Ryo is looking for the guy that killed his father to exact revenge. Simple as it may be, there is a deep underlying plot and mystery involved that fortunately, does not have to be ''read between the lines''. Throughout the adventure, Ryo grows and learns from the characters he interacts with. Many story elements are closely knit so you won't get a sense of bordom. The X-box version's pace had been tweaked to make the gameplay faster and the story elements flow better together.

Replayability: 6/10
There are mini-games galore that spice up the gameplay and give it variety. And it's not just a little spice either. Most of these mini-games draw in your patience (the underlying theme of the game), and ability to handle situations in a calm manner. There are DragonSlayer style game sequences, arcade games, and a mini-dating-sim and many more. And plenty of secrets to unlock. One of these comes in the form of a ''snap-shot'' viewer added specifically for the X-box. At anytime during gameplay, and cutscenes, you may take a screen-capture shot, and it gets saved to your hard drive. The game encourages you to take snapshots to fill a ''secrets'' section of your album. If you take certain snapshots to fill pages to unlock secrets.
You'll find yourself replaying the game at least once to unlock the secrets you missed along the way.

Bonus material: 4/10
For those that have never played Shenmue, a DVD of the first game played through its entirety is included. This is a nice little feature, but quite stretched and boring, even with the gameplay elements removed. The editing is done very well. The only thing I found bad was they did not have english subtitles. They had Japanese dialogue, English dialogue, and Japanese subtitles.
If the movie is too stretched out, a seriously condensed version is available on the game disc itself. It's a substantially shorter and very well edited summary of what's on the DVD.

Overall: 6/10
As good as this game was on the Dreamcast, it has fallen behind and has become a bit dated without graphical improvements, or music improvements. The gameplay is a slight bit shallow, but holds itself well when you get into it. This is quite an immersive game, and you'll find yourself taking on the role of Ryo and feeling what he feels quite often throughout the game.

Rent or Buy: Rent
I made the mistake of buying it before renting it. This game really walks between the fine line of being a great game, and being a total POS. Personally, I don't regret buying it for the sake of it being a ''classic'', but most people will find that they have better things to do. Either that, or save their money for ''Panzer Dragoon - Orta''.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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