Published on December 6th, 2019 | by Marcel Deer
Shenmue 3 PS4 Review
Summary: ‘A middle of the road game, out of fashion, and twenty years late. Nevertheless, Shenmue 3 will please players that enjoyed its prequels.’
Does anybody else remember how exciting Shenmue One and Two were to be played back in the Dreamcast’s halcyon days? Well, that was 1999, and we’re all a bit older now. Nostalgias a beautiful thing, but it has to be appropriately done to evoke the right emotional responses.
Unfortunately, Shenmue 3, which recently became the highest-funded video game so far on Kickstarter, brings back all the nagging memories from its prequels, with very little delivery, considering the twenty-year wait for its release.
Back in ‘99, Shenmue was a representation of the future of video games, it was hailed as Sega’s murder mystery masterpiece, and it lived up to that name. With a £20m budget and a staff of dedicated designers and artists, it was ahead of its time.
Shenmue 3 picks up where its prequel left off, with Ryo Hazuki still desperate to solve the mystery surrounding his father’s murder. Ryo now seeks to solve the mystery behind the Phoenix Mirror, which is an artifact highly sought after by his father’s killer.
Unfortunately, the game is still filled with the monotony that lets its prequels down — fuelled even further by Ryo’s stamina gauge, which depletes over time. This leads to players having to purchase food to keep Ryo’s strength up.
The various ways that Ryo can earn cash are entertaining for a couple of hours of gameplay. Players may choose to chop wood for a local shopkeeper, pick and sell herbs, or gamble, purchasing capsule toys in the hope that a rare item can be procured and later pawned.
Despite increased resolution and frame rate, the game doesn’t look as good as it could, considering it’s now on a much more powerful console than the Dreamcast.
Admittedly, some fantastic graphics show an immersive representation of rural China. The player gets to see a world that is thriving with activity and surrounded by amazing landscapes.
The combat system is pretty much unchanged from the previous games in the series. It’s third-person combat with a bunch of punch and kicks combos to unlock via combo books as you progress through the game. Fighting is fun, but fights rarely happen in the first 5 hours of the game. That said, the combat gets more frequent and intense as the game progresses. By the end of the game, there is a fight scene that made the game for me.
Concerning value, I’d wait until this game drops in price to get true value. Completionists will get a good 50 hours gameplay from this title, with average players hammering through the main story in about 25 hours. I spent about 30 hours working my way through long conversations and trying to solve the ongoing mystery of Hazuki Snr’s death.
About two of those hours were spent wishing this was a fully funded Jet Set Radio sequel for the PS4 or XBOX. Now, that would be something!