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Shenmue (Dreamcast) artwork

Shenmue (Dreamcast) review

"With plenty of twists and turns and loops and corkscrews, and several different ways to reach a certain objective, the story is neither flat nor boring. And, may I note, is a far different story than your traditional RPG, along with a difference in gameplay."

''He shall appear from a far eastern land across the sea.
''A young man who has yet to know his potential.
''This potential is a power that could either destroy him or realize his will.
''His courage shall determine his fate.
''The path he must traverse, fraught with adversity.
''I await whilst praying, for this destiny predetermined since ancient times.
''Awaiting in anticipation.
''A dragon emerges from the earth as ominous clouds fill the sky.
''A phoenix descends from the heavens trailing purple from its wings.
''The pitch-black night unfolds with the morning star as its only light.
''And thus, the sage begins . . .''

Shenmue. What does it mean? Well, I don't know exactly, but what I do know, is that in the gamer's world it means one thing: excellence. This is, hands down, one of the best games I have ever played. Read on to find out what exactly I'm talking about...

Your name is Ryo Hazuki, the only son of Iwao Hazuki, the founder of the famous Hazuki-style of martial arts and a well-known martial arts expert. You come home, expecting to practice in your father's dojo, when your friend, and student of your father, comes crashing through the door. Hurrying up the steps, you enter the dojo, and find your father being interrogated by an unknown man wearing a silk, Chinese robe. After questioning, and getting what he wants, this man kills your father.

What follows in the storyline is, well, a lot! Shenmue has probably the best storyline I've ever seen in a game, and at times seems like an interactive movie. With plenty of twists and turns and loops and corkscrews, and several different ways to reach a certain objective, the story is neither flat nor boring. And, may I note, is a far different story than your traditional RPG, along with a difference in gameplay.

The graphics in Shenmue are amazing and almost all the time look so realistic you'll forget you're holding a controller in your hand and looking at a television screen. Also, the real-time snow and rain effects, along with the sunsets, are a great innovation, and greatly contribute to the graphical superiority of Shenmue.

Everything good comes at a price, though, and I must say, Shenmue has one of the worst framerates I've ever seen. However, you will hardly notice it until disc three, where you start working in the harbor, where there isn't one minute that goes by without you saying, ''Wow, what a bad framerate!''

Nonetheless, graphically this game is one of the best to ever appear on the Dreamcast, or in any console, period.

I can't necessarily criticize the controls, since there's several different styles of play. One minute you'll be running around using the 'L' trigger and the D-Pad, and the next pressing 'A' and 'B' as soon as an icon appears on the screen, and the next using a '-> <- A B+Y' combo to knock out an opponent. Oh yeah, not to mention using 'A' to raise a forklift and using 'L' to accelerate a motorcycle.

Sometimes you'll use a QTE (Quick Timer Event) event to battle, which is fun, but not nearly as cool as doing the fighting yourself! Fighting is easy: use as many kick-ass combos to knock out your opponent(s) and interrogate them. (Or just hurt them really, really bad.) Sometimes you may have to fight one or two enemies, but Shenmue also features one of the most famous battle scenes ever, the ''70-Man Battle,'' which, I might add, is extremely frustrating, but also one of the most fun battles I've ever seen.

All in all, Shenmue is worth your money. I'd put it on my must-have list for any hardcore gamer. Casual gamers may like something else, however. And so, my final word is, ''I can't wait till Shenmue 2!''

Knux's avatar
Staff review by Zack M (Date unavailable)

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