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Xbox | Adventure | Shenmue II

Boxart for Shenmue II
Shenmue II 15 screen shots
  • GRAPHICS: 4.5
  • SOUND: 4.5
  • CONTROL: 4.0
  • FUN FACTOR 4.5
  • AVG USER SCORE 4.6
  • AVG CRITIC SCORE 4.1
Winner of the GamePro Editor's Choice Award

Review: Shenmue II

Yu Suzuki?s follow-up to his Dreamcast masterpiece finally arrives for the Xbox with some nifty upgrades. Does Shenmue II live up to the hype?

Astute GamePro readers may have noticed ads for Shenmue II last year when it was originally slated to be released for the Dreamcast. Almost a year later, Ryo Hazuki finally re-emerges on the Xbox, getting some spit and polish to boot.

Born Again
Shenmue II?s creator, Yu Suzuki, describes it as a new genre that merges cinematic storytelling with an unusual variety of gameplay (mostly adventure, fighting, and RPG elements) for an absorbing tale of loss and revenge. You?ll explore new areas, perform jobs to earn money, and fight using either the QT battle system or straight-up beat-em-up controls. QT battles require Simon-Says?like button pressing?a nice change of pace from the regular fighting in the game, which plays exactly like another excellent Yu Suzuki title, Virtua Fighter. However, navigating around town is not quite as fluid as the combat; it?s the game?s most glaring flaw.

Shenmue: The Game: The Movie
The real meat of the game is the dramatic story of Ryo investigating the death of his father. That trail has led from his home in Japan to Hong Kong, where this installment begins. You can watch all that transpired in the previous game with Shenmue: The Movie, a very nice, 90-minute DVD that adds great value to the package.

While the overall narrative is very strong, the voice talent falters at times, pulling you out of the moment. Considering the increased storage size of the disc, it would have been quite a boon to have the original Japanese dialogue track for the purists and sophisticated crowd who don?t mind reading subtitles. The 5.1 Dolby audio is a nice upgrade, although the voices sound like they are compressed and not as sharp as the crisp background music.

Bill Gates Is Happy
The graphics have not been greatly revamped from their Dreamcast source, but they were groundbreaking a year ago and still stand out among the Xbox elite. Every nuance of town life seems to have been captured accurately, right down to behavior patterns of the populace.

Shenmue II is an extremely satisfying yarn that breaks into new visual and gameplay territory. The Xbox needed a game like this.