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Re: Shenmue III Release Topic

by Reprise Tue Jan 14, 2020 5:52 am

Bit weird, but patch 1.03 apparently dropped the other day and now 1.04 dropped in Hong Kong and some other countries, but not the whole world. And here in the UK we're still on 1.02...

Part of the 1.04 patch notes say it makes preparations for the upcoming DLC.

Shenmue III Update 1.04 Patch Notes:

- Made adjustments to certain game contents.
- Optimized background displays.
- Made improvements to the conversation function.
- Updated localization texts and displays.
- Made adjustments to the credits roll.
- Made fixes to backer contents.
- Made preparations for DLC application.
- Other minor bug fixes.
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Re: Shenmue III Release Topic

by pierrot Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:24 pm

Looks like the first DLC was announced, anyway. For what it's worth, I'm on v1.03 on PC.


Sload Soap wrote:Hard mode should be retitled patience mode. It just stretches out all the mundane tasks. The combat isn't really good enough to warrant a bump in difficulty either IMO.

I kind of like that Hard mode actually makes things more difficult than just making combat opponents stronger. Even playing on Hardest for roughly half of the game, I had pretty much no issues with money whatsoever. Also, the combat is a bit more intricate than it appears, and that's probably only apparent when you can't just brute force the opponent as easily. My only complaint might be that the jump from Hard to Hardest is a little too much. Like, there should probably be an intermediate level between them where the opponents can't just immediately stomp your face in, but still provide a real challenge.


Cafeman wrote:I reloaded the game at this point, but changed difficulty from Normal to Hard. Absolutely no difference in this sequence. I still took down everybody easily.

That's not too surprising. Max Kung Fu level is 43, and that segment isn't really that difficult. If you want a challenge, you'd need to go to the Rose Garden, and go through all the fights there--or try the ending sequence on Hardest. That would definitely intensify things.
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Re: Shenmue III Release Topic

by pierrot Tue Jan 21, 2020 12:28 am

I just spent all day playing the Battle Rally DLC that was released today, and it was fucking awesome! I found all 120 Hakka-chan in and around Hakkason, and finished all seven of the battle rally courses with the top score, as Ren. I only beat Yo-baasan's records with Ichin on the first three courses, and only on the first two courses for Ryo. Ren kicks serious ass in the battle rally. I really like Ichin's speed, and style, but it's really fun to just brawl with Ren, and his combos are a bit more devastating. I'm now very confident, given Ren's unique fighting style in the battle rally, that perspective system for Shenmue IV is the goal. Looking forward to running wild with Ren.

The UI in the battle rally mode is something I really enjoy, because it's so reminiscent of Outrun 2 (which is maybe my favorite driving game ever). Also, the areas beyond the goal posts feel like Outrun too; particularly for the Rokaizan track (Course 3, or the path that leads to the docks from Shenmue II). All in all, I had a great time with this DLC. I think I spent about seven hours total on it, so that feels like pretty good value to me, considering I had bought the digital deluxe version. Even at the full $15 for the Complete DLC Collection, if the other DLCs are going to be even half as good as the Battle Rally DLC, that is a steal.

I didn't actually screenshot any of the DLC itself--though some of the faces on the Hakka-chans are pretty cute/funny--but I did take a bunch of screens of the reward apparel. There were also three pretty choice move scrolls, and a set of healing items from the battle rally rewards--
--but the things I was most happy about were the kenpogi from the Virtua Fighter RPG concept art of Akira (there were also two other kenpogi rewards in platinum and gold), and the sweet Wild Jacket (which almost makes up for the fact that I can't redeem the backer jacket on PC).

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Also, I had some more screenshots sitting around that I just never posted, so have some more eye-candy:
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I find it kind of amusing that even with maxed out settings, and heavy ray tracing, the lighting in Metro Exodus doesn't look anywhere near as nice as the lighting in Shenmue III.



Total side-bar, but I've seen some discussion recently where people have said something along the lines of 'Ryo learns the same move twice' in Shenmue III, and it really, really bothers me. It bothers me in the same way that I get really frustrated with people who see someone do a spin kick, and call it a roundhouse. (Even worse is when a back kick gets called a roundhouse--I actually think they might have done that in the translation of Ryo's moves, unfortunately--.) So, Tetsuzankou, the first move, and Youshi Senrin, the second move, are no more the same move than Rimon Chouchu (move learned from Iwao) and Gaimon Chouchuu (move learned from Xiuying) are. The difference is more subtle, sure, but Tetsuzankou steps quickly across the opponent's body, immediately. So the move takes your back plant foot (right foot, for example), and steps across to the opponent's right foot, and strikes with the shoulder. It can be a counter, or technically just a strike. Youshi Senrin is a counter, though. It's a short counter step to the side, then a step forward across the opponent's body (like Tetsuzankou), into a shoulder strike. They're both used as counters in the events in Shenmue III--and maybe if Tetsuzankou wasn't the differences would have been a little more clear (although I think Tetsuzankou as a striking technique just seems impractical)--but both Rimon Chouchuu and Gaimon Chouchuu are counters too, and I don't think anyone actually said, 'Oh we just learned the same move in Shenmue II as the one Ryo learned when he was ten.' /rant
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Re: Shenmue III Release Topic

by Sload Soap Tue Jan 21, 2020 9:48 pm

Is it that people are annoyed so much that you learn literally the same move twice or more that the game progresses in a fashion that you have to learn two incredibly similar looking moves twice to beat some Fist of the North Star rejects in cutscenes?

It's a pretty valid complaint as it means you essentially end up redoing in Niaowu what you did in Bailu: Search for Yuan -> get beat in cutscene by badguy -> find martial arts master -> jump through hoops for him -> learn move -> beat bad guy in cutscene. It's a pretty poor way to structure an open world game and, broken record time, it's exceedingly bad storytelling.
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Re: Shenmue III Release Topic

by Cafeman Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:14 pm

I am buying Battle Rally DLC on Sunday. No time to play games until then. Appreciated reading a bit about it but i will stay away from further details until ive played it.
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Re: Shenmue III Release Topic

by pierrot Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:38 am

Sload Soap wrote:you learn literally the same move twice

Literally not the same move. It's like saying a side kick and a back kick are the same technique. They look the same. The side kick forms the foundation for the back kick. Completely different utilities.


Sload Soap wrote:It's a pretty valid complaint

It really isn't, frankly. Two completely different opponents. Two reasons for learning the two separate techniques. If you notice, Ryo's trouble against Ganrou is that he throws swift haymakers, one immediately after the other. Neither of Rimon/Gaimon Chouchuu are really meant to deal with that. They're more counters for linear, on rushing attacks. So what does Ryo get trained to do? First is to stay low, and act swiftly from a Baho (horse stance), so he can duck the haymakers. Then he can take the opponent's flank, with a step across the body, and strike with the shoulder. Tetsuzankou is a clear winner for countering Ganrou.

In Niaowu, Ryuki (Kiryu backwards; nice touch--totally different kanji, though) is on rushing, but uses animal forms. Ryo isn't familiar with these forms, so the attacks are essentially disguised. Reading the moves to counter with Rimon/Gaimon Chouchuu, or even Tetsuzanko would mean Ryo has to stand in on the oncoming attack, and all three are really meant to counter high. Ryuki strikes mid in both cases, but even trying to read that, for Ryo, would be a struggle. Gaimon Chouchuu can actually counter mid, but it's meant to grab the arm of the opponent with the non-striking arm in order to pull the his body into the elbow strike. Ryuki comes in with a double-palm strike, and a jumping side kick. Gaimon Chouchuu is not going to counter those. So really, the thing that's actually a little sloppy in all this is that the technique scroll Ryo finds just happens to be an advanced technique based on Tetsuzankou; a technique he's recently gained some familiarity with. Youshi Senrin is a simple, but powerful addition to Tetsuzankou's countering properties. While finding out about Ryuki's style, Ryo also learns that, although dangerous, he basically needs to keep close quarters, and if he can side step Ryuki's techniques, he can counter (high, mid, or low) with Youshi Senrin.

They are not the same technique.

Now, the Niaowu segment of the story isn't especially eventful, and is probably the weakest part about Shenmue III. That's fair. It may, on a macro scale, also be repetitious in terms of its sequence. (Know what that's kind of like? Martial arts.) Pretty sure I've said it before, but Shenmue is all about subtle details. Like any good artwork, there's more to the piece than just what's immediately explicit. If you're looking at it from a macro perspective, you're probably missing it.



Cafeman wrote:I am buying Battle Rally DLC on Sunday. No time to play games then. Appreciated reading a bit about it but i will stay away from further details until ive played it.

Nice! I'm a little glad it's actually a separate game mode, since it's such an arcade fueled experience. Considering your avatar, I'd think it would be right up your alley. I also feel like it showed me how the battle system was intended to be used: flipping between set combo techniques in the presets, while mixing in the dial-a-combos and other strike techniques.

I actually went back in today to finish above all the preset scores or each course with Ryo and Ichin. That ended up giving me
Choubu-chan as a playable character! It's pretty ridiculous. It actually looks like a person inside of a Choubu-chan costume. I don't really now what possessed me to even do it, but I also placed above the preset records on the first two courses with Choubu-chan, which was a serious challenge. There was a point where I was sure it was actually impossible to do on the first course. All that Choubu-chan Fighter I played didn't quite prepare me for this.
I also realized that Ryo is actually pretty OP in Battle Rally. I thought he was actually the least suited for it, at first. Turns out he's basically god-mode.
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Re: Shenmue III Release Topic

by Sload Soap Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:18 pm

Okay, so I went back and watched the two battles in question again and yes they are different if very similar looking moves, especially considering how quickly Ryo executes them. The button combination for them both is also only very slightly different but it is different.

The problem is that there's no getting around that both moves still functionally serve the same purpose. And this isn't the same as saying that "well, all the combat serves the same purpose". These aren't fighting moves, they're passcodes. It's not a GEP gun, it's typing 0451 in a keypad. Mechanically they serve the same function as key items, not of the move scrolls. What's frustrating for me (and I sense from Reddit and Shenmuedojo a sizable minority of others) is that the tools are there with the new Kung Fu system to avoid these really outdated "meant to lose" fights that gate progress for seemingly no other reason than to pad the running time.

I think you are being too literal with the complaint about others complaint about them being the same move. Rather these boss fights represent the sense that Shenmue 3 is a game that doesn't ever really progress from Shenmue 2 be it story, gameplay or setting and that's because, even if it could, YsNet won't let it.
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Re: Shenmue III Release Topic

by pierrot Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:58 pm

Okay, well that's a slightly different issue, and it is valid to say that dealing with the two main enemies in Shenmue III is sort of similarly contrived. There are a few things at play here, for me, though. One is that these sequences offer some of only a handful of really cinematic moments in the game. Compared to the first two, the cinematography took a real hit (I assume due to budget). Whether that's because Yu wasn't able to delegate lesser tasks to the rest of the team as efficiently, or if he just didn't have the budget to put as much effort into it, the camera work isn't nearly as evocative, save for a few spots (mostly the main training/fight scenes). The other is that Ryo is destined to become Akira Yuki, and is in a heavy training stage to get there. Training is repetitive. It's the kind of thing that usually gets montages. Like I kind of alluded to, I think it would have been a little better if Ryo had learned Youshi Senrin in a slightly more organic way. He'd sort of need another Hakkyokuken master, like Xiuying, to notice the similarities in his style, and realize that he might have the tools and be able to make use of the adaptation. Maybe he should just go from Hakkyokuken master to Hakkyokuken master, but that feels to me like it might lessen the intersectional martial arts story, and sharing aspects. I feel like people would be less pissed if Ryo just found the scroll, and learned Youshi Senrin earlier, but eventually realized that he could use it against Ryuki once he learns more about Rokugouken, and how to combat it. This would, essentially, be the pattern that Shenmue II follows with Togyu in Kowloon, though. So is it better to retread scenario beats between separate games, or within the same game? I don't have the answer to that. There are only so many patterns for putting Akira's moves under Ryo's belt, though, and the standard one is to have him just show up to a master and learn them in sequence. There's only so much flare that can be put into the learning and training aspects of martial arts, because it's mostly just hard, repetitive work.

I'm not really trying to defend NIaowu, from a story perspective, though. I really enjoy the gameplay and environments there, but it's certainly weak, narratively. I felt that the infiltration mission made up for a lot of those missteps, though, and I do feel, in total, that even less happened in the original Shenmue. Which is understandable, since the first game is practically a prologue, and mostly serves to introduce Ryo's background and basic character traits. It's just that, if the benchmark is always going to be Shenmue II, and anything less is a failure, then that's a really high bar to meet on a limited budget.

I do kind of need to walk back some of my statements about Rimon/Gaimon Chouchuu, because I was looking at the last two fights in Shenmue II again. In the Byakko fight, Ryo actually finishes him with RImon Chouchuu into a jumping 360 spin-kick, countering a 720 inside-outside kick (which is crazy, he should have just stopped at 360, but then the counter with Rimon Chouchuu seems even more strange). Also, in the fight with Togyu, Ryo counters basically a similar double palm strike as Ryuki's, with Gaimon Chouchuu. I guess the difference there, at least, is that Togyu is heavily telegraphing the attack, even though Ryo's not even looking at it. I'm not an expert in Chinese martial arts (far from it), and there are apparently a number of regional variations of Hakkyokuken, but there seem to be a number of liberties taken to keep things kind of consistent with Virtua Fighter. For instance, Tetsuzankou seems like it's actually meant to step inside the opponent's foot, instead of to the outside. I found some training videos to maybe reflect the differences in Tetuzankou and Youshi Senrin. Thing is, though, I can't find anything about a technique in Hakkyokuken called 'Youshi Senrin.' it's part of Akira's move set from way back, though. I don't know how to pronounce it in Chinese, but the closest thing I could really find was this Shin'iken technique, Youshi Nyurin. So, I don't know.
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Re: Shenmue III Release Topic

by Blu Sun Jan 26, 2020 12:21 pm

Alright, so I finished the game last night. Overall I feel the game is: pretty bang average. I’m not disappointed by what we got as a finished game but I do share some of the same criticisms that have already been shared. I also liked a number of things too. For me, Shenmue 3 ends up being just okay to decent overall. This is coming from a devoted fan of the first two games. The story and setting were always the most important features of the first two games, followed by the martial arts combat. And every other aspect of exploration, interaction, are just added bonuses.

First, the good.

Graphics: Really really sharp. Beautiful vistas in two gorgeous locations. The lighting and ambiance of the two areas was simply gorgeous. I am impressed with how great this game looks. I really liked Bailu Village. It seemed remote, sparse and symbolic of a minor village with just the necessities to subsist (ignoring the arcades and fondness for gambling which are just there as fan service from the first two games).

Sound / Music: I really was satisfied with the sound. Though the music got repetitive, I liked walking into different stores and areas and hearing different throwback tunes. I like the reused elements like receiving items, and mastering a move, complete with the (Japanese? Chinese characters?) The fighting had that classic kung-fu movie fight sound. They did a great job here. My favorite moves were the Thunder Palm and Tornado kick.

Gameplay: The game handled well enough for the combat. You can really cheese the game by timing your blocks, then pushing R2 to unleash hell. There wasn't an overabundance of QTE which is where Shenmue 2 tended to get stale. I liked the herb collecting. I am take it or leave it on the capsule toys. The Sega characters were cool for the first two games, but in Shenmue 3 there simply were too many. Fishing was my favorite mini-game. The arcade games provided some nice novelty. There's plenty to do as far as distractions.

Story / Background: I loved the flashbacks about Iwao. This was really cool and opened up some narrative that was full of mystery in the first game. Who was Iwao Hazuki before the events of Shenmue? Why was he in China? How did he get the mirrors? Why was Lan Di following a path of revenge? A lot of the questions were answered, and only a few remain around Sunming Zhao’s mysterious death.

I like how Feng Li was introduced with some mystery. I thought it was a good twist to have her be revealed as a leader of the Chi You Men. I originally was thinking she'd be an ally, so that twist was interesting, albeit a bit vague. However, is there infighting with the Chi You Men or is Niao Sun just batshit crazy, burning old castles down to the ground.

I really enjoyed the ending. I like that you square off with Lan Di, and surprise, he actually isn't ready. It appears he is still lacking in discipline, composure, and ability. I am curious as to what happens now that the mirrors are in the hands of the Chi You Men. Is it now a war between two factions of the Chi You Men, with Niao Sun possessing the Phoenix, and Lan Di possessing the Dragon? Are Shenhua and Niao Sun counterparts, as the same for Ryo and Lan Di? It leaves me with interesting questions that I hope could be elaborated on.

Lastly, I liked the bonding that takes place between Shenhua and Ryo. It seems really that these interactions only happen during the evening after you're recalling the days events. I will bring this up later on.

---

Now the not so good:

Graphics: The graphics are fine. However, there seems to be a tilt towards pooling resources into graphical areas that could've been diverted a bit into storytelling / plot. Why did there need to be hundreds if not thousands of items you could purchase from the shop. Each of these has their own 3D model. I know what a banana looks like. I don't need to buy a keyboard, furniture, demon masks, 25 different capsule machines, etc. I feel like many of these assets could've been rendered in the store themselves, and not purchasable items. If an item was needed for the plot, it could've been purchased from the shop accordingly. Shenmue 2 parted with the interactivity elements for items in the first game, and this should've been a concession to improve provide more opportunity for plot, character development, and the story.

Gameplay: I share Sload’s view that the gating between areas seems unnecessary, especially since the first two games allowed you to explore virtually everything. I can’t chalk it up to being Ryo being dumb, naive or inexperienced. Rather, it seems like a convenient scapegoat when it feels these were design choices that impacted our ability to explore. I don't like that I'm gated from advancing the story because I need 2,000, then 5,000 yuan at two different points in the game. It just feels like an easy way to make the game longer. I felt like most of the sidequests were pointless and I soon felt they weren't my efforts. They were usually fetch quests, and I lost interest. Additionally, where did the affinity / rapport system go?

Lastly, I understand it was a budget constraint, but Jujutsu and all of its techniques being absent create a bit of a void for me. The grappling, holds, and locks were essential in the martial arts that Ryo practiced prior to departing for China. Now, as he's incorporating Bajiquan and other Chinese martial arts into his repetoire, I can't help but feel puzzled that this was missing. It was satisfying to step behind an opponent and slam my elbow into his neck. For Ryo to shift into a combat style that is completely void of grappling and holds is completely against his character. I realize there's limitations and I'm open to interpretations. You see it in a few cutscenes, so at least there's that.

Storytelling. Shenmue 3's story is really weak, or if I'm being constructive, simply lacks nuance, detail, and explanation. It amounts to two similar formulaic plot elements: track down thugs, get beaten by leader, enlist aid of a master, learn move, and use said move to defeat the big bad. I think there's really a missed opportunity to expand some rationale and develop Ryo's character around these key moments in the plot.

For example, In Shenmue 2, you are at least given the opportunity to learn the four Wude. We're treated to some great cutscenes and interactive moments. We (a western audience) are given the opportunity to glimpse into the world of Chinese martial arts. Ryo gains a valuable lesson for himself and this leads to some (presumably) important character development. It's purposeful in the sense as Ryo has to free his mind that is hellbent on revenge and Xiuying / Lishao Tao makes Ryo pause and reflect. It's evident that this is the purpose -- Ryo is hardly a year from his father's death and Xiuying wants to free Ryo's mind from his tunnel vision.

However, in Shenmue 3, Ryo simply seeks out a martial arts master. Ryo is told his Kung Fu is lacking. What is this nebulous Kung Fu term that is thrown about? Is this a weakness in the translation? There's far too much left open to interpretation as to what Ryo is lacking. I think it's poor storytelling when we're left making guesses and presumptions. Pierrot, I know you outlined the specifics around stances, moves, and counters to these two bosses. For anyone not versed or familiar with the martial arts, this area of the plot feels really lacking and unexplained. This would've been a proper way to convey this challenge that Ryo needs to overcome. However, the player is led to believe that we simply need a move, and until we possess the kung-fu (again is there an important characteristic that Ryo requires), we won't be taught it. We acquire said kung-fu by simply showing up to a Dojo and beating everyone inside until we have the knack. To be fair, Ryo does reflect with Shenhua that catching chickens is helping him get low in stance, and that elements like horse stance help the mind and body become stronger. I can't help but feel these parts are not as revelatory or deep compared to Xiuying's teachings.

Other aspects in the story felt really hollow. I liked the dialogue with Ryo and Shenhua, but disliked that this was abandoned as soon as you're at Niaowu. We get hints that Shenhua has some supernatural abilities. We know that she is fond of talking to animals, and she possesses a power that resembles a Vulcan mind-meld on the first boss. The dream sequence cutscenes from Shenmue (Where Shenhua is in Ryo's dream) Those are absent. There's a lot of mystery around Shenhua and she really takes a backseat to what I think is a pretty insignificant plot driver (fighting two bad dudes). Shenhua's mystery really was an interesting aspect of the first two games, and it's a missed opportunity.

Some of the other characters are inserted without much explanation or given a reason as to their purpose and significance. The masters Bei and Sun are important people evidently, but not much elaboration is given as to their stories.

I loved the Iwao flashbacks and stories, but Ryo seems downright emotionless about these villagers sharing important memories about his father’s time in Bailu village. People handle grief in many ways, but at most you see surprise coming from Ryo, and blank expression to surprise seems to be the range of emotion for these revelations. This was a missed opportunity. Instead, Ryo could've found more backstory about his father, saw a cycle of revenge possibly repeating, and gain the wisdom of the path he might be venturing down.

Overall: If I had to change things, I would suggest a few things:
    -Give Yu Suzuki some talented writers that can help deepen the plot and drive a compelling story.
    -Remove those gated parts of the game that prevent your exploration.
    -Provide more rationale as to the barriers or challenges Ryo needs to overcome. Use this to emphasize Ryo's growth. Perhaps he'd get to the precipice of finishing off Lan Di and realize, like Shenhua says, it will be his undoing.
    -Remove the purposeless items in the game. Use those resources to improve the above.
I know I've shared a lot of constructive criticism, but overall I did enjoy the game. I came in expecting a pretty average game, but hoping the story wouldn't be compromised. I feel let down with that. I can't help but feel though with 18 years between games, that perhaps some of the plot elements became fuzzy, or there was a lot of challenges (perhaps tug of war with stakeholders) into the game's development that hindered the great story of the Shenmue series. At this point I would like a return to the strong storytelling elements that was evident in many areas of the first two games, even if it means sacrificing some of the larger open-world aspects that are fun, but ultimately distractions.

I'd give Shenmue 3 a 6.5/10.
Last edited by Blu on Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Shenmue III Release Topic

by Reprise Sun Jan 26, 2020 5:09 pm

Excellent write up Blu. I completely agree with the vast majority of what you have written. I really hope the writing, story, pacing, cinematography and character development is improved in Shenmue 4 now they have the core foundations to build upon. I definitely agree that a lot of the large environments (Niaowu at least) and other areas like the large amount of items you can buy, should be toned down in favour of improving the overall story direction.

I really really enjoyed my time with Shenmue 3 and I love so much about it, but it ended up going in the opposite direction to what I was expecting with it being a kickstarter project with a limited budget and resources. I was expecting something very linear, a small set of worlds and an experience tightly focused on the story with limited exploration options. In the end, with Deep Silver's involvement, they ended up building upon the foundations of the original games, enrichening much of the gameplay experiences for modern consoles with some fantastic environments and different things to do. But they crammed in so much fan-service (I mean, even forklifts made a return), made Niaowu so ridiculously large and included a huge amount of stuff they felt was necessary for a Shenmue experience, that it got a bit overwhelming at times and it feels like the story takes a bit of a backseat.

I'm sympathetic though. They had to make cuts here and there, Yu had to start a new team from scratch, and if you look at the credits, a lot of the staff are relatively inexperienced or new to video games development (it seems), so clearly limited budget and a tricky development was an issue. Baisha being cut also would have had an impact on the game's pacing. Hopefully they make a few changes with Shenmue 4 that ultimately improves the experience.
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