• This review contains spoilers.

Backstory

Gaming’s greatest enigma Shenmue got a sequel called Shenmue 2 and I just played it. In the first game, the protagonist Ryo his father was killed by an evil man. So the first game is all about finding out who killed Ryo’s father and why. You find out its a man named Lan Di and he killed Ryo’s father over some Chinese Ancient Mirror. At the end of the game, you find out that Lan Di has left Japan (where the first is located) and went to Hong Kong. So Ryo takes off to Hong Kong to find Lan Di and that’s where the first game ends up the second game picks up.

Story

When Ryo gets off the boat, he has very little information to go by but he does have a little. So by asking around, you slowly uncover the secrets of the Ancient Mirror and where Lan Di is. Now it’s important to note, Lan Di does show up in this game but only briefly. You see him and then he takes off in a helicopter off to a small village in the mountains. Unfortunately, the resolution between Ryo and Lan Di is going to occur in a future installment. Hopefully, it will occur in Shenmue 3 but game director Yu Suzuki may want to try to make more games after 3.

Favorite Character

Wuying Ren

Ren is a character you meet, maybe 10ish hours into the game and he’s such a dick but he makes me laugh. He’s self-centered and motivated money but occasionally he does something nice and helpful. But for the most part, he’s a dick and it made laugh/chuckle.

Gameplay

The game is split up into 3 very different acts.

Act 1

The first area in the game is called Wan Chai. It feels like a blue-collar city and is split up into multiple districts. Like most cities in the world, there are nice areas of the city and then there are some more run-down areas. You probably spend a good 8-10 hours in this first area. Which ends up being about half the game. For the most part, what you end up doing for those 10-12 hours is walk around and ask people questions. Maybe getting into a couple fights and having a couple of quick-time event mini-games.

Act 2

The second act takes place in a city called Kowloon which is a city on a large mountain/hill. Kowloon seems very old and run down. In Act 2, you do end up running around asking questions but there is a lot more fighting in this act. You end up having to fight multiple bosses throughout the Act. This Act also has what feels like the final boss. At the end of the Act, you end up going to a building with 17 floors in it. Each floor has a different game mechanic linked to that floor. It’s all game mechanics that you have encountered along the way, so one floor is fighting, another is quick time event fighting, another is a chase sequence with quick-time events. At the end of the 17th floor, you end up going up to another area where you fight what feels like the final boss of the game. If the game had ended here, it would have been okay. It would be a cliff hanger ending with Lan Di taking off in a helicopter but it would have felt like the game had a cohesive story arc.

Act 3

The final Act feels more like an epilogue than a true ending. It’s just Ryu walking towards a village in the mountains in Guillin. You end up meeting a new character, who seems like she is going to be important in Shenmue 3 but that’s all that happens in Act 3. You walk to the village and then you get there. The whole Act is maybe a couple of hours and it’s just a really weird way to end a game. It also made me feel bad for Shenmue fans who had to wait 15+ years for Shenmue 3. But the good news for them, it’s happening.

Music/Sound Design/Voice Acting

Once again, I have to talk about the Voice Acting in Shenmue. The English voice acting is terrible. Part of it is the script and the direction but part of it is the voice is not good. It really makes you appreciate even average voice acting.

Length

This is a hard game for me to judge the length of this game because of the nature that I played the game. I played it with a friend, passing the controller back and forth. We would get together on Sundays and occasionally on Friday nights so it took over a month to play through the game. But if I had to estimate, maybe 20 hours.

Recap: The Good

Better Than Shenmue 1

Photo Mode-Not much to say, you can take pictures.

Recap: The Bad

Voice Acting is Still Bad

The Ending

Recap: The Okay

Fighting

Gameplay

Recap: Final Thoughts

It’s okay. I do think it’s an improvement on the first Shenmue but I can not call this a good game. It’s an interesting gaming experience though.

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