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Old 03-11-2011, 01:00 AM   #62
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Shenmue - Dreamcast

10 Years ago my Dreamcast was giving me arguably the best gaming year of my life, Jet Set Radio, Resident Evil CV, MSR and many more games left but SEGA saved the best until last. I headed by train after school to get the game on the day of launch and I wasn't disappointed.

Shenmue redefined and set new standards in Video gaming. Switch the game on and you are treated to one of the best opening cinematics ever where you witness Lan Di brutally murder your father. It is then your purpose to avenge your father’s death and your quest begins. Initially you simply become immersed in Shenmue’s world. You can quite simply do anything. Go to the shops, visit the arcade and when did purchasing capsules with video game characters become so fun? All of the characters are memorable and the entire game has been redubbed in English. However the voice acting is the weaker part of the game. Ryo's performance in particular is very monotone and lacks any real depth but it never really impacts the game and in fact Ryo going round asking where sailors are actually becomes quite amusing and the cast are as memorable today as 10 years ago. Fuk-San is still annoying, Ine-San is like a grandmother to me and Tom is hilarious.

One of the best things about Shenmue is it's incredible orchestral score. It is without question one of the best musical scores ever. Perfectly composed to reflect emotion and the situation generating suspense and building up to giant crescendos and even giving poignancy to the Nozomi relationship. Though the question of whether the 2 properly are ‘Actually doing it’ remains unanswered.

Did I also mention that Shenmue contains a full scale arcade lounge. Featuring Darts, Punch out and of course SEGA classics Hang On and Space Harrier. Long before GTA was doing this sort of thing with it's immersive world Shenmue was doing it and these games alone carry hours of fun.

The combat system is also good but fails to really excel. Of course i am being over critical here Because this is the guy that created Virtua Fighter it's a shame the combat system didn't go deeper. Ryo picks up scrolls to learn newnmoves and can go to certain designated areas to practice them. The culmination being the giant 70 man fight roasted the end of the game. The game also has a series of quick time events (QTE's) that require you to press buttons within a certain time period. This method has been copied in games like Resident Evil 4, Tomb Raider and the Uncharted series and is yet another homage to just how groundbreaking Shenmue was/is.

Visually the game today holds up very well which is astonishing when you consider that back in 2000 most were still playing on their PSOne. The attention to detail is stunning. Be it the environments or the people surrounding them everything is polished to perfection. As time progresses upwards Christmas the snow comes down and you will see Santa wandering. You can interact with everything even if it is pointless. Listen to tapes (it is the 80's) and Ryo even has a Saturn under his TV (Hang on isn't it the 80's?). You even go out and get a job as a forklift truck driver and partake in races at the start of the day. That’s the beauty of Shenmue. The detail. Shops open and close at specific times. The weather changes and you have to be home in time for bed. It's little touches like this that make the game such an immersive experience. The other great thing in Shenmue is you will never get totally lost. Despite the interactive world you carry a notebook and will automatically note down the key information you pick up on your travels. It’s a system that works and works well and you will use it for phone numbers, passwords and to log appointments.

I have barely scratched the surface of how highly I rate this game. Shenmue today remains one of the best games ever and if you have not played the game I seriously recommend you pick this one up now because you are missing out on one of the best video game experiences. It's slow pacing may put off the casual ‘Call Of Duty’ audience but if you love your games then no one shouldn't experience Shenmue. It is simply brilliant.

Pros - Incredible attention to detail. Fantastic orchestral score. Brilliant story.
Cons - pacing issues. Fighting could have been deeper. Bad voice acting in places.

Overall - 98%
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