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Shenmue / Score: 9.6
Published by Sega and Developed by Sega-AM2

Shenmue was actually planned for release on the Saturn (click here to check out some screens of it), but it was later scrapped and worked started on a Dreamcast version. Shenmue is the result, and while the game gets a bit boring at times, there is no doubt, and I'm not afraid to say it, that Shenmue is one of the best games ever created.

Some games' strong point may be their graphics or their gameplay, but Shenmue has it all. The story, gameplay, graphics -- it's all there. Let me first tell you about the story and some of the characters in the game.

You are Ryo Hazuki and you go home to see that is is very quiet around and you also see a black car iin front of the door to your yard. Upon going inside, you will see that Ine-san is a bit shaken up and, after seeing what's wrong, you go the dojo which you will then see Fuku-san be thrown out of it. Once you enter the dojo, you will see 2 men in black suits, your father, and someone by the name of Lan Di. After a few punches and kicks are thrown around, Lan Di murders your father right in front of you. In fact, Lan Di takes you "hostage" and makes you father tell him where the mirror is in exchange for you. Of course, he agrees.

The game is set in 1980's Yokosuka, Japan, and the people and buildings all were created with unbelievable detail. From your house, to the Aijichi Restaurant, the places will simply amaze you with their detail. You will also meet a lot of different people, some of which happen to sound the same. One thing that I don't like about the characters is their voices; to put it simply, the voice-acting, at some parts, just flat-out sucks. It would have been nice to possibly have the option to use the Japanese voices with English subtitles, but alas, there isn't.

Now it's time to talk about the graphics of the game. The game just looks amazing, not just for a Dreamcast game, but for all-time. Even now, with games such as Splinter Cell and Star Wars Rogue Squadron: Rogue Leader out on the market, the game still holds it own.

If you walk into a restaurant, you can actually see the cooks using frying pans and the like. People will ride on bikes to go to work or to go home, kids will run around, cats and dogs will also walk on the streets. It's almost as if it's real life; that's how much detail this game has.

The gameplay has you controlling Ryo not with the analong stick, but with the d--pad, which makes absolutely no sense if you ask me, since this a game set in a three-dimensional world. Anyway, you use the 'A' button to do mostly everything, whether that's talking to people, opening a door, or buying a can of cola.

In terms of sound, Shenmue has some great soundtracks and sound effects. If you go into a restaurant, you can actually here the food if it's in a frying pan on a stove, and not only can you hear it inside, but if you stand right outside the restaurent, you can actually hear it outside as well. You can also walk by people and hear them chat, whether it's with other people or if they are just mentioning something about the place they work at, like if they are having a sale if it's a store or whatever.

Shenmue is a pretty lengthy game, and it'll probably take you 20-30 hours to beat if you want to try to do some of the extra stuff in the game along with the main quest, like going to the arcade to play some of the games. You will also want to play through it again, because it's such a good game.

Shenmue may not be for everyone, but for the gamer who likes adventure games, they should get this game. Also, when you've beaten this game and find that you like it, you should pick up Shenmue II, which is even better.

-- MajorLocke