More Reviews
REVIEWS Slender: The Arrival Review
Few games can offer genuine scares in the horror genre. Can Slender: The Arrival prove otherwise and it can offer more?

Pillars of Eternity Review
Obsidian Entertainment creates a retro Infinity Engine RPG funded by Kickstarter. Is it as good as previous Infinity Engine games, or does the novelty quickly wear off?
More Previews
PREVIEWS Dirty Bomb Preview
Looking for a more competitive, challenging online FPS multiplayer game? Splash Damage is introducing just that by dropping a Dirty Bomb on the free-to-play game market.

LATEST FEATURES 6 Helpful Tips for Pillars of Eternity
Simply put, Pillars of Eternity can become maddening if players aren't careful.

Top 10 Active Video Game Kickstarter Campaigns
There are lots of indie projects going on right now, so we did the dirty work for you and found the best.
MOST POPULAR FEATURES Top 50 Pokémon of All Time
Can you believe there are now six generations of Pokémon? Six!! That's a crazy amount of different creatures to collect. But which are the cream of the crop? Don't worry, Magikarp isn't actually one of them.

Read More Member Blogs
The perils of the Hype Train…
By shandog137
Posted on 03/09/15
The recent release of Evolve and The Order 1886 really got me to thinking about the disparity between the perspective of sales-driven publishers and the quality-driven purchases of consumers. The “Hype Train” is nothing new, but the way it is utilized has been creating far more...

Shenmue Review

Brian_Gee By:

Ryo's big adventure.

Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up and just don't feel like yourself? That's exactly what happened to me a few days ago. I rolled out of bed only to notice a bandage on my face and the Dragon Ball-ness of my hair. Things got even stranger when I grabbed a fresh pair of boxers only to notice the name "Ryo" written on the tag. Suddenly, it all came back to me. I am Ryo Hazuki. My father was murdered and it's up to me to avenge him. I must seek out the killer and deliver him a message...

If it wasn't for my considerate co-workers, I might have permanently forgotten my true identity. I am an editor for the esteemed Game Revolution and the last few days was only a game.

That "game" was Shenmue, and it indeed took over my life. Luckily, I have survived to tell the tale. From famed game designer Yu Suzuki comes a masterpiece of video gaming, and although it isn't perfect, it marks a revolutionary step in video game design.

The year is 1986. The place is Yokosuka, Japan. Players take on the role of Ryo Hazuki in a quest to solve the mystery of his father's murder and extract vengeance on the killers.

Shenmue is basically an adventure game that borrows aspects from RPGs, fighters, and even racers. Much of the game is spent exploring Ryo's world and following clues to find his dad's killer. A lot of detective work is involved, and since all the rituals of daily life (working, sleeping, etc.) still carry on, the game's slow progress can be a test of patience.

Often, Ryo must meet specific people at certain times and places. Missing these events could lead to the loss of a valuable clue. Fortunately, not every single clue is needed to solve the mystery. Also, if some key event is missed, the game will automatically rewind itself to a point where players can have a second chance.

The world Ryo inhabits imitates real life to a near perfect degree. You can interact with almost everything in the game. Want to go through all the kitchen drawers? No problem. Thirsty? You'd better decide on what type of soda you like. Feel like playing some arcade games? Head over to the You's Arcade, strap yourself in, and play a pair of Sega classics. The amount of detail wrapped up into Suzuki-san's masterpiece is simply amazing.

The RPG aspect of Shenmue involves gaining items as well as building up your character's traits. As a martial artist, Ryo needs to hone his skills for battles to come. Players choose what course his studies will take and advance specific statistics for each move Ryo learns. They can even discover new techniques for Ryo by exploring the right places.

The real world is not a friendly place, and the world in Shenmue is no different. Fighting often takes on a Virtua Fighter style of play and pits Ryo against some shady characters. With a huge library of possible moves and combinations, Shenmue's free fighting bits almost feel like a true fighting game. It's only missing this one thing.

In addition to the real-time fighting, Shenmue incorporates timed events a la Dragon's Lair. A scripted action appears and players must push a certain button at the right instance. Since it's only occasional and doesn't take up the bulk of the gameplay, this type of play adds a fresh feel and more excitement.

Not satisfied yet? There's still more. Vehicles exist in the world of Shenmue and there will be occasions when Ryo must test his driving skill. Whether it be a forklift or motorcycle, you'd best be ready to show off some serious speed. Racing in Shenmue, who knew? Again, most every genre here is covered.

The control takes some getting used to. Moving around isn't as intuitive as you'd hope, as the standard camera seems a bit too low. But after a while it becomes a non-issue.

The amazing level of detail wouldn't be the same without life-like graphics, and in this, Shenmue does not disappoint. Arguably one of the most graphically advanced console titles to date, this game's got all the graphical flavor you could want. Textures are spot-on and characters have unique facial animations that help bring them to life right before your eyes. Weather changes also occur in order to match the game's clock and calendar. It's all here - every little juicy detail.

Additionally, the game brings new meaning to the word "cinematic." The transition from gameplay to cut-scene is seamless, as almost every cut-scene is rendered flawlessly in-engine. You never break from the story to watch some flashy FMV. At times, it feels like you're playing a movie.

Ambient sounds are also done very well. Birds chirping, wind blowing, cars passing; it's unbelievable how much detail is in here. However, the voice-acting demon that has plagued many a console adventure game has struck again. With a multi-million dollar budget, you would think that the so-called "voice talent coordinators" would be able to find some decent voice talent. Gamers everywhere are sick of hearing the producer's father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommates do the voice acting. Almost any bum could have done a better job.

The only other gripe I have with this game is that it doesn't really end. Like the first book in an epic fantasy series, Shenmue leaves you wanting more. It's pretty disappointing to reach the end of a game only to find out that it's not the actual end of the game. Also, the next chapter will most likely take its time in making an appearance and will add to the cost for the entire experience. Still, I logged close to 40 hours of game time, and I certainly didn't explore every nook and cranny.

The initial reactions I've seen for Shenmue have been mixed. Some love it and some hate it, but pretty much everyone can agree that it's a departure from the norm. The important thing to keep in mind about Shenmue is that it's an adventure game. The pacing can get slow and often you'll spend a great deal of time wandering around talking to people. This is not a good game for the impatient, quick-twitch action junkie.

But it's a great game for everyone else. While Shenmue may not initially appeal to the mass gaming audience, it sure as hell appeals to me. This is truly a game that everyone needs to experience at least once. All it requires is patience, so keep this in mind.

A- Revolution report card
  • Revolutionary level of detail
  • Superb graphics
  • Very cinematic
  • Varying types of gameplay
  • Whaddya mean it's not real?
  • Slow going
  • Poor voice acting

More from the Game Revolution Network

comments powered by Disqus


More information about Shenmue

More On GameRevolution