Format reviewed: Dreamcast
Submitted by: stuart cochrane
Christmass past (2008) was a great christmass for me, not only did i get a N64 with games but my dear missus also got me shenmue 2 . Now i had not touched this game since 2002 but as soon as it loaded up that nostalgia hit and i was in heaven. But hang on a second, normally when i play retro games they never seem quite as good as when i first played them but thats not the case with Shenmue. Shenmue really can hold it's own against the latest 360 titles, for instance my better half does't play retro games but many a time i've had to vacate the control pad so she can play this.
The version i've been playing isn't the dreamcast game that this review is about but the Xbox port which is prety much exactly the same but with an English dub and a snapshop camera. Microsoft bought the rights to Shenmue 2 shortly after it's japanese release so sadly it never reached america on the dreamcast but it was released in europe with subtitles over the japanese soundtrack. If you do pick up a copy of this game i would recommend the Dreamcast version as the English dub just sounds wrong (Anime fans might know what i'm talking about).
You start the game as Ryo arrives in Hong kong and the first thing that you notice is the amazing graphics around the harbour and initial area (check out the view from pigeon park). The first thing i always do upon arriving is to spend all Ryo's money in the little capsule toy machines, what a stroke of genius by AM2 they are. they're not of much use in the game apart from to sell for money but all those little figures of Sega's classic characters are a retro freaks dream to collect.
Then there's the A.I and scripting of NPC's, some games struggle to get this right on modern consoles but the character and charm of some of Hong kongs residents is believible and really sucks you into the experiance. I personally don't crack on and finish games as quick as possible i like to wander around, take in the scenery and see what kind of things there are to do rather than missions, Another 10/10 for Shenmue 2 then cos there's loads to do. Arm wrestling, Fruit machines, Gambling, Darts and Retro gaming (you can visit an arcade to play Space Harrier or Outrun) among others.
Some people see the ending as being to short and rather weak for a game with such an intensive story but i look on the whole last section as a playable ending as you dont have to fight anyone or do anything. Instead you are shown round some of Guilin's more impressive attractions by Ling Shenhua before being taken to the Shenhua residence.
I'll end by promising to donate both kidneys if Sega release Shenmue 3 in time for next christmass.