The savior of the Dreamcast. Yu Suzuki's finest creation. Whatever you may call it, Shenmue is set to make waves come Spring 2000.|
Utilizing a new gaming mode invented by Suzuki himself dubbed FREE, Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment, Shenmue is certain to reach new heights in the form of interactive entertainment. The game revolves around a young man by the name of Ryo Hatsuki, who lost his mother at a young age and was raised by his father in the ways of the martial arts. Near the completion of Ryo's training his father dies as well leaving him with nothing. Ryo is left alone to survive the streets of Yokosuka with only his martial art skills to guide him, so Shenmue begins.
Suzuki created Shenmue's world to rival our own and the results are breathtaking. People wander the streets just as if in real life, birds fly overhead and buildings glitter in the sunlight. The level of detail in this game is so amazing you can make out individual leaves on trees and blades of grass. Shenmue's citizens even all have their own daily schedules. You'll notice kids running off at nightfall when their parents call and shopkeepers opening up in the early morning and closing near sunset. Each individual NPC (non-playable character) has a life of their own and personal traits that set them apart from the crowd. No more will the NPCs be standing static in the background waiting for you to walk up and say, "hello", now they all have places to go and people to see. Shenmue's level of detail is also showcased in its surroundings, you can interact with just about everything. To give you an example of this, there is an arcade in the game where you can go shoot darts and even play some of Suzuki's famous AM2 titles like Space Harrier and Out Run!
The gameplay in Shenmue is also consistent of real life; you must get a job, find places to sleep, and obtain food. The world of Shenmue even acts like our own with the passing of time (speeded up slightly), seasons changing their course, and acts of mother nature like rain and snow. It is said that Suzuki's team even dug up the mid-1980 weather records for the coresponding cities in the game and even incorporated them into the final product. If there was substantial rain for July 1985 in Yokosuka than you can bet on buying an umbrella that month in Shenmue. With production costs now rising over the 20 million dollar mark it's easy to invision the amount of detail and character this game must hold.
Shenmue has three basic types of gameplay built around it. There is the Adventure Mode, where you interact with the hundreds of people living in Shenmue's world and explore the 1200+ rooms that this title has to offer. Each and every room holds a staggering level of detain within. You will find junk lining the trashcans, individual papers strewn across the desks, and even records and tapes with their own songs and titles.
Shenmue's Free Battle Mode is a modified version of Virtua Fighter 3's fighting system, with Ryo being able to punch, kick, block, and perform certain combos in real time, but slightly scaled down to appeal to both adventurers and hardcore fighters alike.
Lastly, there is the controversial Quick Time Event Mode (QTE). The QTE mode is reminesent of the Dragon's Lair type games, with a certain button and/or D-pad direction flashing on screen. The object is to hit the buttons in the exact order to make Ryo perform a certain series of moves or attacks. If you don't get the button presses right the first time, don't worry, you are allowed a few tries before Ryo bites the dust. The QTE mode might just seem like filler in an otherwise excellent game, but that is not entirely so. This mode makes certain scenes in Shenmue possible that would be too complicated for the adventure mode alone without sacrificing any of the story. As an example, there is a certain part in Shenmue where Ryo has to make it through a busy street to his motorcycle to escape from pursuing thugs. It would be nearly impossible to make it through that section and not lose the story element of the chase if not for the help of the QTE mode.
Sega of Japan has a lot at stake with Shenmue, it could either make or break the Dreamcast for them. Rest assured though, if anyone can pull of the daunting task of producing a title of this scope and magnitude, you can bet it's Yu Suzuki.
|Preview by: Mike Tausch|