Having recently had my life status bumped down to Unemployed Bum, I have suddenly found myself with a bit of extra time on my hands. Therefore, in between fruitless trips to the Jobcentre, having pointless conversations with 'recruitment' agencies and whiling hours away in the gym, I have been playing Shenmue.
To be totally honest, while I'm very impressed with the graphics, the actual game leaves a lot to be desired. The game world certainly looks very lifelike and suitably 1980s, but when it comes to the crunch, it just isn't as good or free flowing as many would have you believe. Infact, it's nothing more than a very pretty version of Wolfenstein 3D. Let me explain.
There may appear to be endless rows of shops, houses and people to engage in conversation, but ultimatley no-one has anything to say and you are just directed towards the next point by plot specific characters. There are some nice diversions thrown in (like collecting the plastic toy eggs from the vending machines and stuff), but if you stripped all the superficial aesthetics away, Shenumue's game world would be a series of long grey corridors (streets) with lots of little empty rooms leading off them (the shops/houses etc).
Maybe that's a little harsh, but you'll see what I mean if you play it. There are loads of lovely little gardens just waiting to be trampled on - but wait! This washing line seems to be hindering my wantonly destructive progress. That'll be the cold, grey metallic wall.
Still, for the PS2 obliterating graphics alone - I love it.
Maybe I could get a job down at the docks like Ryo - all I need is a brown leather jacket and half a tub of shockwaves on my thatch. Salford Quays here I come...