Just beat Shenmue 3! My thoughts:
Overall I’d give the game a 7 out of 10. Maybe a 7.5 depending how I feel. There are some things that I liked and some things I didn’t.
For starters the environmental graphics are nice but aside from the main characters: Ryo, Shenhua , Ren etc. all the other npc’s look extremely grotesque and deformed. For instance I went to see a man about fishing. His head was bigger than his body and his face looked overly bloated. Almost all of the npc’s don’t look human! They look like freaks of nature! This makes the game feel more like a parody of the Shenmue series. Also, most of the female npc’s look like porcelain dolls rather than real people with stiff facial animations.
Story: (No spoilers)
The story is very slow and uneventful. You learn 2 minor story points throughout the entire game! And they are incredibly vague. At the end, something is explained to you, but even then you still don’t understand what happened. There also isn’t a lot of character development with the side characters you meet.
Also, a major thing to take note: most of the supernatural or magical aspects of Shenmue 2 have been removed or retconned. For instance: The intro cutscene does not show the Seven Star Sword floating or levitating any more. They actually made the sword smaller for Shenmue 3; almost like a small knife now! And the Shenmue tree is also smaller than how it was depicted in Shenmue 2, giving it less of a magical presence, feeling more like an ordinary tree now…
The fighting system is fun and almost feels like the Virtual Fighter system but without the throws. Now you have to level up all of your moves. Note: if you master all of your moves you won’t be able to level up further unless you find or buy a new fighting move to practice. This adds more time to the game and you will be spending hours leveling up your fighting skills.
Now I must mention quick time events. They feel dumbed down and the window in which you have to press them is lightning fast. Meaning, by time your brain registers the button it’s already over. And most times they are just single button presses. No complex strings of commands and certainly not as forgiving as they were in Shenmue 2.
Three are two instances where you will need a lot of money. 2000 in Bailu Village and 5000 in Niaowu. This means you will need to do a lot of gambling. In order to get real money in Shenmue 3 you have to buy tokens, use the tokens to gamble, win more tokens from gambling, take the tokens to an exchange teller and buy items like gem stones. Then you take those items you bought from the exchange teller and then find a pawnshop, where you trade in your items for real money. It’s a long convoluted process. You will spend hours doing this and it can be very frustrating. You can go to a fortune teller and get a reading which tells you your lucky color or number. Then you have a limited time to use this in the gambling games. Before you gamble you can save and reload if you lose though. But it still takes forever to get money.
I was also disappointed with the arcade games and capsule toys. There are no old Sega games to play. Just some generic arcade games, like basketball or golf. Also, the capsule toys are incredibly ordinary and boring. For example: a set of fire extinguishers, a set of keys, or a set of tennis rackets… I never got not even one of these. That’s how interested I was. Sega really needed to license some of their franchises for this game. But, that probably would have cost Yu Suzuki more money. A disappointment, but maybe we’ll get proper Sega capsule toys in Shenmue 4…
Everything else feels like standard Shenmue: talking to npc’s, picking up items, going back and forth to different locations and looking for story points.
This feels like more of an extension of Shenmue 2. Apart from the starting area, Bailu, Niaowu feels almost exactly like Aberdeen. And my major problem is that you don’t get any major or meaningful story explanations for the 25 hours you will be playing this game for. Sure this game feels like Shenmue, but maybe it plays it too safe? It really makes me wonder if Yu Suzuki really does have the story planned out or not, or if he’s just making things up as he goes. Only giving us small threads to go on. At this rate, we will never see an end to the story. I guess we can only hope Shenmue 4 gets green lit!