Sega has been hyping Shenmue as the ultimate game for its Dreamcast platform and perhaps the most groundbreaking video game out there. High praise, for sure, but it might just be justified. There is no other game quite like Shenmue. The epic adventure is as much film and novel as it is video game, sprawling over three discs as well as a supplementary Internet hookup.
The plot is loosely as follows. Ryo Hazuki is a martial arts student who sees his father being killed by a bunch of gangsters who want information about a magic mirror. Ryo then sets out to find the murderers in an adventure that skips from Japan to China.
Unlike many action adventure games, most of the action here is built around talking to people and gathering clues, not fighting people. Ryo picks up information from different characters in surrounding towns and villages, taking notes and occasionally putting the boots to thugs who get in his way.
As with most Dreamcast games, Shenmue is visually stunning. Characters blink and shiver and act like real people. When you use a pay phone, money is deducted from your account and you actually have to dial the numbers. When you go into an arcade, you control the character as he plays games, whether its riding a motorcycle simulator or throwing darts.
Even more realistic is the game's own internal clock. Ryo's world runs on a real-time schedule, complete with business hours and changing weather. If you have to visit the barber shop to get a piece of info and you arrive after closing time, you have to wait until the next day to get in.
It's a complex, remarkably detailed game, and one that requires dedication from those who play it. Shenmue's pace is not hectic, though, and to really accomplish anything you need to set aside several hours to play. If you can afford the time, it's worth it.
of the week
Tired of spending countless hours rifling through
records and annoying friends trying to figure out who does the break on Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth's Straighten It Out? The Sample FAQ lists thousands of samples used in rap, soul and reggae tunes. Ridiculously detailed, the site runs
down the original track * occasionally with
sound samples * as well as the dozens
of cuts that have ripped it off.MG www.members.accessus.net/~xombi/intro.html
GRAPHICS: Eerily realistic.
ADDICTIVENESS: Slow but steady. Watch your own clock as well as the game timer.
ANTI-SOCIAL FACTOR: Bolt the door.
PROXIMITY TO THE REAL THING: The grass sounds squishy after it rains, and Ryo gets scolded when he comes home late.