Shenmue caused quite a stir when it appeared on the ill-fated Dreamcast a few years back. Its unusual gameplay involved exploring and puzzle-solving, like most adventure/exploration games, only this one was a little more like real life. You could interact with the hundreds of people milling around the city streets going about their daily business around you, you had to find work to make money and it all happened in real time day turned to night, night to day etc. You could even nip into a video arcade and play classic eighties arcade machines.

Shenmue 2 picks up where the last game left off.

You control Ryo on his quest to avenge his father's death by finding and defeating Lan Di. As you wander the streets of Hong Kong it really does feel as though life is going on around you.

Thankfully the game isn't so close to real life that there are no clues or prods in the right direction but it does so in such a subtle way that you hardly notice the manipulation - there's no sense of being funnelled' in the right direction.

Most games are frantic, intense and have you pumped full of adrenalin. Shenmue is a much calmer game playing experience, which isn't to say that it's boring. Simply exploring and interacting with the various characters you meet along the way is fascinating and there's always a new clue appearing to make you want to keep playing a little longer. There's also plenty of Virtua Fighter style fighting to be done, opportunities to gamble your money and general drama the mean streets of Hong Kong ain't a safe place to be!

A truly innovative and atmospheric game.

April 8, 2003 10:31