How many years does it take to tell a great story? Is it ten, perhaps twenty? The answer is simple, a great story can be eternal which is how long the wait for Shenmue 2 felt. To those of us who were clamoring at the end of Shenmue a few years back this is a blessing. Being able to continue the journey as Ryo and his quest for vengeance is a dream come true. When the DC died back in 2000 a million hearts broke, we though we would never get the chance to continue what was possibly one of the greatest adventures imaginable. Thanks to Sega, Microsoft, and Yu Suzuki we can continue what could possibly be the greatest story ever told.
Nothing amazes me more than when a system can stand the test of time, the Dreamcast was one amazing machine. Gorgeous anti-aliasing and a poly count to rival some of today’s competitor’s Sega had a glorious machine on their hands. Porting this to the XBox more than likely didn’t even make the system sweat but it reminds you how good the DC could look when pushed to it’s limits. Sure many of the textures are bland, the character models could look light years beyond this on true XBox power, but the game delivers a graphical feel unmatched by any to date. The facial expressions are awesome and the environments are so alive you would swear you were there. Perhaps Shenmue 3 will take advantage of a greater power, but until then I am perfectly content.
The reason I didn’t snag a copy of Shenmue 2 for DC from Japan is because the game relies on story for the most part. Translating Japanese is hard, but when you have hours of dialogue it is almost impossible, unless you are Japanese. The American voice overs are a far cry from MGS but they suit the mood. Ryo is (as far as I can tell) voiced by the same guy from the first game, for fans this gives a sense of nostalgia and familiarity. The other characters can come across a little flaky but in the end it does it’s job. The music however is astounding. The subtle melodies really add to the atmosphere and give a certain sense of feeling that only music can portray. A dynamic score that just doesn’t quit and should be released as a CD, I would buy it man!
The meat of Shenmue has always been it’s amazing attention to detail. Being able to snag trinkets from machines to playing classic Sega arcade games is what makes this game all the more special. The follow up is no slouch in this department, everything you loved from the first game is intact with a few new goodies such as gambling and arm wrestling, what a ride. The fighting system is also done so well it could be a fighting game on it’s own merits. Borrowing from Suzuki’s famed Virtua Fighter series Ryo has a ton of moves and the best part is you can learn more and more as you progress. For those worried about your DC save Sega has thrown in all the goodies from the first game available at start, thank you Sega!
Following up directly where the first left off you take control of Ryo as he arrives in Hong Kong. Still on the trail of Lan Di attempting to recover the second mirror and avenge his father’s death. The twists and turns in the sequel will have you guessing up to the end and that is what makes this game so great. After all was said and done I am positive we will see Shenmue 3, my only question is, how long must I wait Yu?? HOW LONG??? Making memorable characters and adding new to grow on you and love is what makes Shenmue 2 one of the best adventures available for the XBox console!
If you are a die hard DC fan who loved the original game then by all means why are you even reading this?? If you have never played Shenmue before do yourself a favor by picking up this great game. If you fear not knowing the storyline don’t fret, Sega has included a DVD called Shenmue The Movie which portrays the entire story of the first game with 90 minutes of cut scenes and game footage to catch you up. What are you waiting for dive into one of the greatest stories ever told, grab your Shenmue 2 today and be thankful for your XBox and Sega. Great games like this aren’t made everyday!