Game Eaters

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Shenmue 3 "nearly complete?" Whaa...?

Here's a little article about Shenmue 3's next-gen plans. It's still not targeted to any chosen platform and code apparently needs to be "ported". To me, this sounds like either (a) they've completed pre-production design but haven't started production besides character and environment modelling and skinning or (b) they've actually finished coding up game functionality for some internal development environment and they really just need to do a porting job.

Frankly, I hope it's (a) since that'll leave them with the ability to incorporate next-gen specific enhancements (HDR lighting? better hair dynamics? vertex shaders? better environmental audio effects?), since we've seen what (b) looks like, and it looks like Shenmue 2 on the Xbox. A good game, to be sure, but without that extra layer of technical polish to distinguish it from the competition. If they really go whole hog and release the entire Shenmue story on a single SKU, it could really be a compelling product for a lot of adventure-game lovers, but people throwing US$399 at an Xbox 360 will want something that's going to, frankly, look and act like something that couldn't be executed on current-gen consoles with a few extra discs.

Using models that are on par with their publicity posters would be a good first step but "just add polygons" only gets you so far. I'll buy it regardless, since I want to see how the story ends, but I'd rather Shenmue expand its appeal to the visually-hungry mainstream than simply cater to the existing fanbase.


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