Taking place after the events of the first game Shenmue II is the second chapter in Yu Suzuki's (unfinished) Shenmue series.
The game sees you once again play the role of Ryo Hazuki who is on a quest to avenge his father's death and uncover the mysteries of the Phoenix Mirror (check out Shenmue if you want the back story).
The game takes place straight after Shenmue, sadly Shenmue was never ported to the Xbox luckily though it is still possible to catch up and get into the story.
Shenmue II comes with an extra DVD entitled Shenmue the Movie.
Shenmue the Movie is a feature Length film made using Shenmue's game engine, the movie goes over all of the important bits of Shenmue so that you can get straight into Shenmue II.
Being honest Shenmue does make a fairly enjoyable film, I am impressed by the fact that they managed to fit the entire game into a feature length film.
Now if Shenmue the Movie doesn't do it for you then you can always watch the Shenmue Digest Movie that features in Shenmue II.
Shenmue II uses the same game engine as Shenmue so the two games are fairly similar.
Unlike Shenmue this game takes place in China instead of Japan so there are going to be some changes from the first because the countries are fairly different.
Shenmue II uses the same game engine as Shenmue so the games play more or less the same. It includes just about every feature that was in Shenmue.
Shenmue II is a bit of a mixed bag, first off all it is an adventure game you run around everywhere talking to people trying to find out what to do and where to go next.
Shenmue is also a fighting game the game is filled with fight sections that play just like the Virtua Fighter games (which is no surprise seeing how Yu Suzuki is Virtua Fighter's creator), which is great because Virtua Fighter is one of the best fighting games out there .
The other gameplay mechanic that Shenmue is well known for are the QTE's (Quick Time Events), a feature that is common in many modern games (resident evil 4 being a prime example).
The last feature is mini games, Shenmue is full of mini games, they come in two forms, your standard mini games like doing a part time job for money, the other type of mini games are arcade machines located in Shenmue II, the arcade machines let you play Sega classics such as Out Run, Hang On, and After Burner, normally you have to play to play them but there are free ones located within the game try and find them if you can. The games are ported more or less perfectly, I have played several ports of these Sega classics and these have to be some of the best ports out there.
Well the game is great and does everything right there is one thing that bothered me at first, the controls.
Playing an adventure game on Xbox you'd think that you'd control movement with the left control stick, after all that is what we use it for, but no instead we use the D-Pad for movement and the control sticks for camera control.
I have nothing against the D-Pad but it can make the movement awkward at first but after as while you get used to it but are can be a pain when for example climbing a spiralling stairwell.
Speaking of Xbox features this version of the game features two things that the Dreamcast version didn't have, the first is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound (hooray for better sound quality), the other feature is a snap-shot camera so that we can take screen shots of the game, I would show you some but sadly I have no way of getting the pictures off my Xbox.
Back in the day Shenmue's genre was described simply as "life", Shenmue is the game of life, this game is just like real life, time moves realistically it gets brighter and darker as the day goes on just like in real life, I know, I know you are thinking "so what that has been in plenty of games" well play Shenmue or Shenmue II and you will understand straight away.
Another life like feature is the weather, the weather changes just like in real life clouds gather and it starts raining, the sky clears and it becomes sunny.
Shenmue II was one of the games that pushed the boundaries between art and games. Shenmue II is just like a movie it has a good plot, great dialog, likeable characters and decent acting, something that a lot of games try to have today.
Just like in real life one thing you need is money, money if very important you need it if you want to progress in the game, there are several ways to earn money, you can get a job, you can gamble, and you can sell stuff at pawn shops.
The money its self is used to rent a place to sleep, buy drinks and toys, play games, get into areas, buy maps and many other things.
Normally adventure games tend to be quite big but this is no normal adventure game, this game is huge there is so much to see and do.
In all Shenmue is an incredible experience, you will find it hard to put the controller down.
For what it is the game is really, really big, though saying that the Dreamcast version was on 4 disks.
Graphics and Sound
The only thing that lets this game down is the graphics, they looked amazing on the Dreamcast but on the Xbox they don't really stand out as well, but saying they are still really good.
The games soundtrack is still great, everything goes together well, and in the game each area has its own music.
If you haven't played this make sure you do it is a classic.
Just a shame that it is a cliff hanger, ten years on gamers are still waiting for Shenmue III, make it happen Sega!
+Very Life Like
+Really good Sega Classics ports
+Great Fighting System
-Still No Shenmue III after 10 years
-Not everyones cup of tea