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1995-2000
GamesFirst! Magazine

Preview:
Shenmue II

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Due Fall 2002 for Xbox.

 

SHENMU~1-01.jpg (8759 bytes)The Dreamcast is not dead. At least, it’s not completely dead. It is dying. Still, Sega plans some 30 new titles for the system this year, including their 2K2 sports lineup, Alien Front Online, Bomberman Online, Crazy Taxi 2, Floigan Brothers, Ooga Booga, a Phantasy Star upgrade, and a lot more. One of the most exciting titles due out in this final push for the Dreamcast is Shenmue II, due this fall. Shenmue II is the compressed conclusion to the series, which was supposed to run six episodes. It is much larger than Shenmue, and features some enhancements that should quell the criticism associated with the first game.

SHENMU~1-01.jpg (3907 bytes)This second and final installment sees Ryo searching throughout China for Lan Di, the murderer of his father. In his search he visits Hong Kong, Kowloon, and Guilin, and the worlds are even more detailed than before. You’ll explore mountain terrain, Hong Kong backalleys, and Taoist temples in your journeys, and interact with a whole new cast of characters. You can interact with almost every facet of the scenery.

SHENM~12-01.jpg (4263 bytes)A new navigation system has been implemented, which will allow you to track your travels and better determine your current location in the sprawling environments. In addition to the map feature, the weather and time technologies have been improved, allowing for more dynamic 3D skies and changing terrain and vegetation. In addition, there is now an Action Key, which allows you to ask questions that better impact the interaction with other game characters. Shenmue II works to make it more efficient to progress through the game.

SHENM~11-01.jpg (4646 bytes)With the gameplay enhancements, Shenmue II should be more appealing to gamers who thought the first installment progressed too slowly. However, the expanded worlds and interactivity should maintain the freeplay environment that was so enjoyed by fans of Shenmue. I for one am very sad to see the series finish prematurely, although Yu Suzuki, creator of the groundbreaking series, reiterated that this Shenmue II is over four times bigger than the first title and will not leave gamers feeling ripped off. I have faith in Suzuki-san, but I also hold out a little hope that Shenmue, or a similar title developed in the same vein, will make its way to other next-gen systems where the threads of innovative gameplay and design that have begun in this series can play themselves out to maturity.

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Shawn Rider

 

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