Shenmue III

It’s got a new trailer, a new pub­lisher… so why the poker face?

Games Master - - CONTENTS - Justin Tow­ell

We’re not wor­ried by trail­ers fea­tur­ing ex­pres­sion­less char­ac­ters. Ben looks like that ev­ery day.

Af­ter 17 years, Lan Di was prob­a­bly pretty con­fi­dent he’d got away with the mur­der of Iwao Hazuki back on Dream­cast. But he shouldn’t be so sure now. A new trailer for Shenmue III shows our re­venge-seek­ing hero, Ryo, fight­ing fit on PS4 and PC. But not ev­ery­body’s been cry­ing tears of joy. First, let’s just re­cap what the game is. Shenmue is a mega-bud­get, su­per-de­tailed ac­tion-RPG from leg­endary game di­rec­tor Yu Suzuki, where you walk and street-fight around sub­ur­ban Ja­pan, try­ing to piece to­gether in­for­ma­tion about the iden­tity and where­abouts of your fa­ther’s killer. The game started life as the ‘Vir­tua Fighter RPG’, and that’s still a fit­ting de­scrip­tion, de­spite it be­com­ing its own game. By the end of Shenmue II, Ryo had made it to China, and that’s ex­actly where Shenmue III picks up the story.

Brawl in

Ryo can be seen spar­ring with two new char­ac­ters in new footage. And since Vir­tua Fighter 6 is but a glint in Sega’s eye, the prospect of Suzuki-au­thored brawl­ing on PS4 is mas­sively ex­cit­ing. How­ever, while the en­vi­ron­ments look pretty, Ryo’s fa­cial ex­pres­sion doesn’t change through­out the footage, which has… raised eye­brows. You could ar­gue it’s au­then­tic for our hero not to dis­play any emo­tion (we were lit­er­ally shout­ing “just kiss her you fool!” at his stupid face back in 2000), but Suzuki ex­plained the char­ac­ters are “still temp data”, so Ryo and Shen­hua should look bet­ter later. They need to. Still, the footage feels like a Shenmue game, which is no mean feat con­sid­er­ing the multi-gen­er­a­tional leap. With an open-world game re­port­edly prov­ing too am­bi­tious for the funds raised by the 2015 Kick­starter and Sony part­ner­ship, pub­lisher Deep Sil­ver has stepped in, af­ford­ing the project more re­sources. Suzuki’s team may be smaller than in the ’90s, but the com­pro­mises should be fewer. Miss­ing the irony com­pletely, some have been ask­ing Suzuki about Shenmue IV. “If I can, I want to,” comes the cau­tious re­sponse. Let’s just get III fin­ished first, yeah? Don’t count your cap­sule toys be­fore they’ve hatched. Or some­thing.

He’s been wear­ing that same leather jacket for some 17 years now. And the same plas­ter on his cheek. Eew.

While Ryo wasn’t en­ter­tained by the old man’s Frankie How­erd im­pres­sion, he was im­pressed at the even­ness of his snowy-white buzz-cut.

There’s some­thing mag­i­cal about see­ing Ryo prac­tic­ing his martial arts, just like he used to. Maybe too much like he used to – the an­i­ma­tion is rather stiff right now.

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