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(IDG) -- There is no doubt that Shenmue is one of the most ambitious games ever to be released. In terms of the story's scope and what the game achieves in the exacting detail of Japan circa 1986, Sega has certainly broken new ground. The world of Shenmue packs in so many things to do that you can literally play the game for days without ever fulfilling any of your objectives. Of course, since you are tracking down your father's murderer, you don't really want to waste too much time collecting trinkets, playing arcade games, darts or any of the various activities available to you.
The graphics are the cutting edge of what the Dreamcast is capable of. The world of Shenmue is huge, and there is amazing attention to detail on every object in the game; many items even have their own distinct sound effects adding to the realism. In addition, the music always sets the right atmosphere, and Shenmue has a fantastic selection ranging from soothing to pulse pounding.
There are just a few marks against Shenmue that prevent it from being an all time classic. The main gripe is that Shenmue is just the first chapter of the overall story, and creator Yu Suzuki has hinted there may be as many as 16 chapters! Even if the series evolves into a more realistic trilogy, that still leaves the tumultuous story feeling a bit incomplete. The second problem is the less than precise control of your character. Interacting with Shenmue's lush 3D world is hard enough, but the game controls make it a struggle to face the right way, and the game engine demands that you need to stand in front of objects like doors and other items just so in order to use them.
Still, Shenmue is one of the great gaming experiences for any system, period. The replay value is also extremely high due to all the various things you can miss the first time. While PS2 owners have to wait for the blockbuster titles to appear for their system next year, Dreamcast owners have their killer ap right now.
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