Shenmue 3 - Review @ OnlySP
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Shenmue III Review — The Never-Ending Fetch Quest
The original Shenmue holds an important place in video game history. Once the most expensive game ever developed, the 1999 classic had a strong influence on the open-world games that followed, pioneering NPCs with daily schedules, quick-time events, and blending RPG elements with the mundanities of everyday life. A sequel quickly followed but, despite warm critical reception, the title did not sell well enough for the series to continue. A strong cult following for the games remained, however, and in 2015 a Kickstarter campaign brought Shenmue III back to life. After countless delays, publisher negotiations, and an unpopular Epic exclusivity deal, the game has finally been released. After 18 years of waiting for the resolution of Shenmue II‘s enormous cliffhanger, this painfully faithful sequel is sure to please die-hard fans of the series, but the dated gameplay mechanics and stiff performances are unlikely to bring any new fans to the franchise.
Shenmue III runs about 20–30 hours long, depending on how deep one dives into the mini-games, and does not provide a conclusion to the series. If the title had been released on the Dreamcast 18ish years ago, as was originally intended, it would have probably looked much like it does now. Similar to how Ryo is eternally stuck in 1987, Shenmue III is trapped in 2001, when having an open world with many NPCs was more important than filling that world with anything interesting. The game tells a high-stakes plot at a snail’s pace, with terrible writing and acting. The clever combat system of the previous games has devolved into a button-mashing mess. The title does have moments of brightness: the actual story beats are great, the setting is fascinating, and it features the best forklift simulation on the market. However, with such incredibly dated gameplay, only the most ardent fans will enjoy Shenmue III. Even then, it is easily the weakest link in the franchise.
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