Summary: For better and worse, Shenmue III feels just like the Shenmue games that launched nearly 20 years ago.
Fans of Shenmue won't be disappointed.
Many of its systems feel like they were taken out of the early 2000s.
Poor voice acting and a roundabout plot make it feel somewhat irrelevant to the broader storyline.
Top Critic Average
Shenmue III has finally arrived, and it is exactly what fans of the series have been asking for.
So what does all this mean for Shenmue? Well, I think fans are going to enjoy this one, but I don’t think this is going to introduce a new generation of gamers to the series.
It seems like almost bankrupting Sega didn’t teach anything to Yu Suzuki and Shenmue III is the product of that unwillingness to change, a truly awful video game by any standard. Some Shenmue die-hards will call this a masterpiece or say that this is what Shenmue is supposed to be but that simply doesn’t change the fact this game fails in almost all departments and doesn’t even advance the story of the series.
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Shenmue III is alright, it’s the next step in the story and it stumbles along the way with some odd pacing amongst poor visual issues.
Shenmue 3 is an acquired taste, very acquired, but it’s everything I ever wanted it to be. As a Shenmue sequel it’s fan-pleasing perfection. As an actual game it leaves some things to be desired: combat is clunky , facial animations are unpleasing and there are numerous translation oddities. However, at the end of the day, it’s a game I’ve awaited for years and I’m far from disappointed.
Shenmue III takes a certain state of mind because it’s unmistakably what Shenmue used to be, and not how it’s supposed to be now. I hope that there will be Shenmue IV to give closure to the story and like this, it will stay true to what it is.
I'm disappointed with this game, it has perfectly kept the spirit of the original Shenmue but in doing so has not brought any of the new innovations of the industry. It hasn't advanced its own formula and has instead opted to create the game as I imagine it was first designed back in the early 2000s. If they make a Shenmue 4 I sincerely hope they take more risks and don't just make a carbon copy of what they've done before.
Shenmue III is the Benjamin Button of video games, except it won’t get any younger as the time goes by. Offers some interesting quirks, but overall it was release 20 years too late.
Shenmue III isn’t for everyone, but anyone who was waiting for it will be amazed at how perfectly it captures the gameplay, atmosphere, and world of Shenmue so many years later.
So, here we answer my questions from the start of this review… Shenmue 3 couldn’t possibly have lived up to the hype and expectation surrounding it. This doesn’t mean the game is bad, it’s just people wanting perfection. It’s very much a game as I thought it would be, something given to the fans by a developer who clearly wants this story told as much as the fans want to be a part of it. This was clearly based on the speed at which the Kickstarter fund reached $1 million. Anyone thinking of starting out with Shenmue 3 because perhaps they aren’t old enough to have played the originals, go back and get the HD remaster, DO NOT start the story here. I promise you will not enjoy the game if you do. Shenmue 3 is a game out of times, it feels like a game created 15 years ago and locked up inside a time capsule until today. But as someone who has spent the best part of 30 years enjoying games, I say welcome back old friend! I give Shenmue 3 a Thumb Culture Silver Award as there is no doubt this game is going to be loved by the fans, but is most definitely not a game for everyone.