Shenmue II continues from where Shenmue left off, with Ryo sailing off from Japan to Hong Kong in search for Lan Di, the man who killed his father. If you have the Japanese version of Shenmue, you can transfer all of your items from the original Shenmue to Shenmue II, such as move scrolls, toys, etc.
The story of Shenmue II is much more complex and just flat out better than the first one, which was good, but it just isn't in the same league as Shenmue II's story. There are plenty of characters who will help you, like series newcomers Joy, Ren, and Xiuying, and, likewise, there are plenty who will try to make you eat dirt.
Hong Kong was created with the utmost of detail, and it's obvious when you see it in the opening scene. The buildings and people look great and you will feel like you are actually in mid-80's Hong Kong.
The gameplay is the pretty much the same as the original Shenmue, except you have these 4 different colored icons on the bottom-right of the screen. The green icon, when pushed with the 'Y' button on your controller, opens up your menu which lists your items, moves, maps, etc. The yellow icon, when pushed with the 'X' button on your controller, opens up your journal. The red icon, when pushed with the 'A' button on your controller, does most of the main actions for you like talking to people when you're near them. Finally, the blue button, when pushed with the 'B' button on your controller, does some actions like cancelling your choices on the action selector or marks down places on your map. Also, you can finally move Ryo around with the analog stick! Controlling Ryo is much better and smoother with the analog stick instead of the directional pad.
In terms of sound, Shenmue II has some of the best video game music ever. From the music in the beginning to the music in the end, Shenmue II's music will absolutely wow you at how good it is.
The game is so good that you will want to continue to play play through it. Plus, once you beat it you unlock a hidden video of Shenmue for the Saturn (we have the video on our site, just click here. Also, any mini-games you play during the main quest such as Space Harrier or Hang-On will be available to play after you beat the game.
Shenmue II is one of the best games ever and takes everything that made Shenmue good and multiplies it by 10 and adds even more stuff. If you have a Dreamcast, get either the Japanese version of the European version because they are superior to the Xbox version.