Sega’s classic titles return for a next-gen revamp, but how do they stack up? 

GameByte Reviews: Shenmue 1 & 2

Growing up in a Nintendo-only household, I missed out on titles like Shenmue, but the hype over the third instalment of the game at E3 a few years ago got me really interested in trying the series out. 

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I was lucky enough to play the original title shortly after the Shenmue III announcement, and I was struck by seeing such an enormous interactive world in a title that first released in 1999. 

If you’re stepping into the world of Shenmue without too much of a history with the game – like I was – then you might need to step over a few initial hurdles with Shenmue I and II on PC, PS4 or Xbox One, but that doesn’t seem to tarnish the experience.

Plot 

The storyline itself still holds up pretty well though. Without spoiling anything, you’re investigating a crime that hits pretty close to home in a mystery that spreads across both Shenmue I & II. 

You play as Ryo Hazuki, exploring Japan and collecting clues from the neigbourhood as you delve into the Chinese crime syndicate of the city to avenge a murder. 

Remaster

The games aren’t a proper remaster, meaning you’re not going to get full and flawless graphics, and you’re definitely not going to be getting the audio quality you’d expect. 

The audio initially threw me through a bit of a loop. The muffled-sounding recording combined with the very stunted acting took a good hour or so to get used to, but once I began properly exploring the world of Shenmue, it began to make sense. 

GameByte recently spoke to video game voice actor, Troy Baker, who criticised a certain remaster he’d acted in for its unwillingness to update the script. This led to, in his opinion, completely out-of-date lines that really dated the game. 

That’s exactly the problem Shenmue would have faced if the audio had been re-recorded. Some of the lines in the game are now so outdated that they border on the outrageous, especially when it comes to certain Rastafarian-inspired characters in the game…Overall, sticking with the original? Smart idea. 

Gameplay

As for the gameplay itself, the game was heralded back in the day for its fantastic combat and it’s even better suited to this generation of gaming thanks to a bit of polishing here and there. 

Combat is satisfying, and even if it is just a series a quick-time events, it’s done well and it’s definitely more fun than I would have expected from such old games. 

For new players, the world is absolutely stunning – not because of its graphics but because of how rich and communicative it is. You can interact with any character (even a kitten), use vending machines, visit the arcade and play fully-functioning mini-games, get a job and much, much more. 

You complete side quests, you help people out, you fill out your notebook with clues to solve the over-arching mystery of the game– you can even turn lights on and off, all of which was completely unheard of for a title of its time. 

The games are definitely ones that you should pick up if you’re an experienced gamer who misses the good old days, but it might be a bit off-putting for players who are used to the highly-polished AAA games of today. 

Verdict

Shemue I & II look like old games but they’re being sold as exactly what they are – a revisit into one of gaming’s most seminal and ground-breaking experiences. 

When first released back in 1999, Shenmue I was like nothing that had ever been attempted in the world of gaming before, making the game an important stepping stone towards the sorts of games we take for granted today. 

If you’re looking to 100% both the Shenmue titles then you’re looking at up to around 60 hours of gameplay and for the £29.99 (PS4 and Xbox One) or £19.99 (Steam) price tag, you really can’t ask for much more. 

Shenmue I & 2 releases on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, 21st August 2018.

 

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