For those of you who care, here's a little something I prepared earlier... Well, Iâve just finished Shenmue II, and Iâve got to say...wow, where to start? Firstly Iâd just like to say that I was a moderate fan of the original game â it had some very impressive moments â but I often became frustrated with the pace (or lack thereof) and the at times horrendously poor voice acting (âHey Mister! Letâs Play Soccer!â â *shudder*). I am pleased to say that Shenmue II fixes both these problems and some to boot. The slightly controversial inclusion of the original Japanese voice acting (and subsequent subtitles) makes the game immeasurably more playable. It gives the game a more authentic edge that is not clouded by cringe-worthy overdubs. Admittedly, it seemed a little alien at first after being used to the dodgy American voices, but they blended surprisingly quickly. Pace and plot also gets a kick-start from the outset. As soon as you step off the boat you are given a task to complete â donât worry though â there is plenty of help to be found in a short period of time. At times I found the level of âhelpâ a little constricting, but not in the same way that was the problem in Shenmue I. I didnât feel like I was forced into the plot â it was more like the natural pace of events was occuring. Throughout the game things tend to move fairly quickly, not leaving you wandering around without much to do. Also the âPracticeâ element seems to have been removed, so any martial arts skills you attain are through regular fights, or when you reach the third disc, through the competition matches. Again, I found this to be more satisfying than the original method of doing 100âs of âPit Blowsâ one after the other. Graphically, and in terms of sheer scope, Shenmue II is jaw dropping. The environments are much larger and each area (or quarter) now has itâs own distinct feel. The most breath-taking feature of all, though, is the total size of the game. It is MASSIVE, not to put too finer point on it. I dabble in CG myself and have a vague understanding of the time it takes to create even the most basic objects and frankly, the size and complexity of the Shenmue is truly dazzling. Even more so is the fact that it all looks so good â it really shows off the power of the little white box. True, the framerate does dip from time to time, but you barely notice it. On the down side, I did feel that disc 4 was a bit of a waste. Yes, it does look pretty and yes, there is a SHITE load of speech, but in terms of interactivity, itâs a major let down. Who really wants to follow some girl through the woods, asking seemingly inane questions about her father? Also, despite many of the flaws being fixed, there are still some very frustrating moments to be had. A couple of examples are the book carrying section on disc two and the âbalance on the planksâ bit in disc three. Fortunately these a few and far between, and are all there to contribute to the plot. Overall Shenmue II is a vast improvement over the original, that really showcases the DCâs power. While there are flaws, the positive sides (not least of which is the plot that really draws you in) far outweigh them. This is a seriously good investment for those who appreciate quality gameplay. 9/10 For those of you who have got this far, feel free to agree/complain/argue/correct me. #### maybe even write your own!