Shenmue - Dreamcast

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Viewed: 3D Third-person, over the shoulder Genre:
Adventure: Role Playing
Beat 'Em Up
Simulation
Arcade origin:No
Developer: AM2 Soft. Co.: SEGA
Publishers: SEGA (GB)
Released: 1 Dec 2000 (GB)
Ratings: 11+
Accessories: VGA Compatible, Vibration Pack, Joypad, Visual Memory Card

Summary

Every once in a while a game comes along that revolutionises the video game industry. Shenmue is one such game. Yu Suzuki is a gaming God. Hang-On, Afterburner, Virtua Fighter, Ferrari F355 are some of his creations. He is one man that has a vision of how video games should be and will be. There is no genre that Shenmue fits into, there has been no game produced like it before. Shenmue is F.R.E.E, Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment; it is similar to a role-playing game in that it has an excellent narrative, it encompasses 3D fighting elements and quick-time events all in the same game. Quick time events are when an action will happen in the game and you only have a very limited amount of time to press the corresponding button. Depending on whether you are successful or not, the game will proceed accordingly.

The story of Shenmue involves you witnessing the murder of your father and your quest to track down the killer. The desire for revenge is strong but you need to find out why this happened and unravel the mystery surrounding the murder.

Shenmue is a small virtual world to become immersed in. There are over 230 non-playable characters that all have lives. They sleep, go to work, socialise and you can interact with all of them. You get to know these people and even eventually remember their names. Looking at certain objects or being in certain areas triggers memories that are relevant to the story. Shenmue features time and weather elements that add to the realism of the title. Shops are open in the day, bars are open at nighttime and that gives the feeling of a real world. The lighting in the game constantly changes depending on what time of day it is, and when it is raining people walk around with umbrellas.

You can pick up and interact with thousands of objects in the game. You keep a notebook of useful information that is revealed to you. If you are wondering what to do next, the notebook will give you a clue and removes the ‘what do I do next?’ feeling. The way the game plays is superb, character movement and head movement are independent of each other. When you are looking around a room the camera will zoom in to relevant objects you can then investigate. There are also fighting moves and combos to learn, practice, master and use. Useful for when you get attacked or when you are saving someone.

Graphically, Shenmue takes console visuals to new heights. We have never seen anything so breathtaking. The audio is perfect, subtle tunes that accompany the adventure but then dramatically change depending on the situation you are in. If there ever was a masterpiece of a game, Shenmue is it. If you are fan of gaming and you don’t experience Shenmue you are missing out on something really big.