‘Shenmue III’ picks up story thread after 18-year wait (VIDEO)

‘Shenmue III’ sees Japanese franchise hero Ryo Hazuki team up with the literal girl of his dreams, Chinese woman Ling Shenhua. — Picture courtesy of Oasis Games via AFP
‘Shenmue III’ sees Japanese franchise hero Ryo Hazuki team up with the literal girl of his dreams, Chinese woman Ling Shenhua. — Picture courtesy of Oasis Games via AFP

NEW YORK, Nov 15 — It’s been two decades since the original Shenmue helped popularise an open world genre now inhabited by Grand Theft Auto and The Legend of Zelda.

Twenty years after Shenmue launched on Sega Dreamcast in 1999, and 18 after Shenmue II landed, a third game in the influential series is launching on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC from November 19.

The franchise’s first two entries helped popularise an open world genre that now accommodates everything from the modern Grand Theft Auto and Legend of Zelda games to wild west adventure Red Dead Redemption, the historically inspired Assassin’s Creed franchise, and fantasy epics like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Witcher 3.

Set in the late 1980s, the Shenmue games offered players what were for the time detailed explorable cityscapes and plenty of non-essential activities to take part in, blended with martial arts combat, historical fantasy, and a hero’s journey.

Shenmue was set in Japan, as a teenager sought justice for his father and investigated a crime syndicate; Shenmue II took players to Hong Kong, where the plot thickened and eventually led onto the Chinese mainland; Shenmue III, no longer viewed as a trilogy closer thanks to ongoing interest in the franchise, picks up the story thread and has hero character Ryo finally team up with Ling, a girl he had seen in premonitions.

Announced to a standing ovation during PlayStation’s showcase at the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Shenmue III set a new crowdfunding record on Kickstarter and prompted the 2018 re-release of its two predecessors on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

When Shenmue III launches on November 19, it will be in an open world genre that has been shaped by the franchise’s legacy.

In particular, Sega’s Yakuza series became its unofficial spiritual successor and, like the Shenmue games, has seen the first two games in its franchise re-released for modern systems, in this case on PlayStation and PC.

Shenmue III also joins a recent crop of video games once at risk of staying in developmental hell: among them, the Doom franchise’s fourth core entry (also titled Doom) arrived in 2017 after a nine-year wait; PlayStation-published The Last Guardian at last made retail after a similar period; Half-Life remake Black Mesa is available to purchase as an Early Access title on PC and Linux and is inching ever closer to a full release. — AFP-Relaxnews

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