General Impressions

Guppy

Level-Headed Mud Spider
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Jul 27, 2018
I will admit that I may have been too harsh towards the combat system of Shenmue III. However, when the first two games set an extremely high bar, I expected Shenmue III to either match or exceed it. Also, I hold Yu Suzuki to a very high standard since he is one of the forefathers of in-depth combat systems.

You can not convince me that a combat system that is missing thirty-three percent of its moveset, a lack of proper parry or evasion options, a dial-a-combo set, and an inferior Counter Elbow Assault to be a good system. I will give Suzuki credit for allowing me to toggle between enemies and that you can map up to five moves to the trigger button. However, these could have been implemented with the older system as well.

When you base your combat on (in my opinion), the best combat system in gaming Virtua Fighter, anything less is going to feel like a disappointment. So I maintain that while Shenmue III's combat is not as bad as critics make it out to be, it is a downgrade in my eyes.

I genuinely thought the system was on par with the other games in the series. I mean, grappling is deeply missed and I detest recovery items being used mid action but aside from that I thought there was a lot going for it. Ryo is finally moving freely in 3D space instead of the 2.5D plus often times awkward camera positions from the previous games. Though the tutorial is awful and pretty much non-existent, there is parrying and evasive manouvering in S3, but it's just not assigned to a single button and requires more precise timing from the player. It has even has more complex combo strings than previous games as I could pull off 10 hit+ combos without relying on trigger buttons. There is a steep learning curve, but with enough time spent with the system the player will come to realize there are even intricate mechanics like slow-mo dodges and ring out moves. And they are not there just for aesthetics purposes. The slow-mo dodge for example grants Ryo "full armor", meaning his attack can't be interrupted during the slow-mo sequence nor he can die, besides moves that require a long winded animation like the brawling uppercut will speed up and have a 100% hit rate, making this extremely useful specially fighting against multiple opponents. Also, it's during slow-mo that Ryo will have an easier time performing a ring out move which will launch the opponent against an object in the edge of the "arena" like a staircase, railing or wagon, "killing" them on a single blow. This mechanic is more apparent on Rose Garden. There are other little details to the combat like how some movesets in the list are assigned the exact same button commands, just to realize that they are meant to be performed on top of the other in sucession and to used in a combo string. In theory, an expert player could defeat any enemy including bosses without grinding much or relying on recovery items on any difficulty setting in this game. So even if it's true of S1 & S2 having about 30% more moves, it doesn't change the fact those games don't give much incentive to learn most of their moveset as the games get easier and easier the more the player loses, while in S3 you get the choice to play more skillfully to bypass grinding.

 
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Was that option even available? For the most part, I think it was probably over-ambition that led to the combat not being quite finished if you see where I'm coming from.

But I also take the point that using the VF engine from the original was a high bar indeed and one I'm not sure could be cleared
For Yang Bing? I doubt it since he probably has a contract with Sony that will not allow him to work on other projects in the meantime. You will have to enlighten me on what you mean by "over-ambition." I will say though that Yu Suzuki still could have found individual developers out there in the ether that could have given him a fantastic battle system instead of a mediocre one.

@Spaghetti Yes, I am aware and I think I am doing a poor job of conveying my point. In an interview, Yu Suzuki stated the three core themes of Shenmue III were "Martial Arts, Life, and Romance." So one would think that more attention would be applied to the battle system. After all, theory without application is meaningless.

My point is that at any time Suzuki could have hired independent developers with minimal cost to create a battle system on par with Black Myth Wu Kong, Lost Soul Aside, or Sifu. As the creator of Virtua Fighter, he could have created a phenomenal system. Finally, as a legendary developer who has managed large teams before, it is his responsibility to properly balance these elements.

@tomboz Except for the fact that one of the core themes of Shenmue III is martial arts. Then you have things like the Battle Rally, the surge to Longsun Zhao's Castle, and your multiple encounters with the Red Snakes. So I largely disagree with your assertion that combat is minimal. Even if that is the case, Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka also had minimal battles but the combat was excellent. It is not a matter of quantity, it is of quality.

@Guppy If you want to assert that the first two games disincentivized a player for self-improvement, then I will find fault with Shenmue III. When one can grind, spam potions, and rely on one mechanism to get through battles then does that also not incentivize a player to not improve? Until I see combat on this level in Shenmue III, I remain unconvinced.


This is probably going to be my last post on this topic as I am starting to become redundant as I remain unconvinced that Shenmue III's combat system is on par with the first two. Once again, I want to state that I do not think the combat in Shenmue III is bad, but it is still inferior in my eyes. If others here enjoyed it, then more power to you as I am happy you saw something in it that I did not.

Finally, Yu Suzuki is a perfectionist and one who listens to his fans. If he can rate Shenmue III a "Seven out of Ten", then I think he can handle the criticism derived his way. There is only so much I can forgive before it becomes mentally exhausting. Criticism of one element does not mean I suddenly hate this franchise as I am more than willing to support Shenmue IV and beyond.
 
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spud1897

spud1897

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For Yang Bing? I doubt it since he probably has a contract with Sony that will not allow him to work on other projects in the meantime. You will have to enlighten me on what you mean by "over-ambition." I will say though that Yu Suzuki still could have found individual developers out there in the ether that could have given him a fantastic battle system instead of a mediocre one.

@Spaghetti Yes, I am aware and I think I am doing a poor job of conveying my point. In an interview, Yu Suzuki stated the three core themes of Shenmue III were "Martial Arts, Life, and Romance." So one would think that more attention would be applied to the battle system. After all, theory without application is meaningless.

My point is that at any time Suzuki could have hired independent developers with minimal cost to create a battle system on par with Black Myth Wu Kong, Lost Soul Aside, or Sifu. As the creator of Virtua Fighter, he could have created a phenomenal system. Finally, as a legendary developer who has managed large teams before, it is his responsibility to properly balance these elements.

@tomboz Except for the fact that one of the core themes of Shenmue III is martial arts. Then you have things like the Battle Rally, the surge to Longsun Zhao's Castle, and your multiple encounters with the Red Snakes. So I largely disagree with your assertion that combat is minimal. Even if that is the case, Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka also had minimal battles but the combat was excellent. It is not a matter of quantity, it is of quality.

@Guppy If you want to assert that the first two games disincentivized a player for self-improvement, then I will find fault with Shenmue III. When one can grind, spam potions, and rely on one mechanism to get through battles then does that also not incentivize a player to not improve? Until I see combat on this level in Shenmue III, I remain unconvinced.


This is probably going to be my last post on this topic as I am starting to become redundant as I remain unconvinced that Shenmue III's combat system is on par with the first two. Once again, I want to state that I do not think the combat in Shenmue III is bad, but it is still inferior in my eyes. If others here enjoyed it, then more power to you as I am happy you saw something in it that I did not.

Finally, Yu Suzuki is a perfectionist and one who listens to his fans. If he can rate Shenmue III a "Seven out of Ten", then I think he can handle the criticism derived his way. There is only so much I can forgive before it becomes mentally exhausting. Criticism of one element does not mean I suddenly hate this franchise as I am more than willing to support Shenmue IV and beyond.
Sure thing. What I mean is by including such a wide scope system did they leave themselves too much to do? That's what I mean. Hence why what we got was solid enough but had clear issues. But it's a decent building block.
 
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Sure thing. What I mean is by including such a wide scope system did they leave themselves too much to do? That's what I mean. Hence why what we got was solid enough but had clear issues. But it's a decent building block.
Thank you for the clarification. I have stated my position pretty clearly though I guess that is a curse of Suzuki being ambitious lol. In either case, I have complete faith that things will improve in Shenmue IV. Till then, I will support anything Shenmue-related.
 

Guppy

Level-Headed Mud Spider
Joined
Jul 27, 2018
@Guppy If you want to assert that the first two games disincentivized a player for self-improvement, then I will find fault with Shenmue III. When one can grind, spam potions, and rely on one mechanism to get through battles then does that also not incentivize a player to not improve?

The incentive is that one can only grind up to a point in the game but difficulty will still increase as the player progresses, while potions are limited to 4 and are expensive (let us not forget you could regenerate health indiscriminately in the original games if you run in circles around the enemies). And as I mentioned before, learning the combat mechanics properly will alleviate the amount of time grinding in training, and not by just the one trick pony mechanic if you check the video below. BTW, out of curiosity I've checked the number of moves in S2 compared to S3, and I've counted 72 total listed techniques in S2 against 98 in S3 (maybe even more with some exclusive scroll sets), so basically S3 more than makes up for the missing grappling move set.

Until I see combat on this level in Shenmue III, I remain unconvinced.


I managed to dig out my old playthrough videos of S3 PS4 version from way back end of 2019, early 2020 and made a video showcase out of them. Might still not convince you, but I assure you the combat mechanics are complex and combo based (most in my video are not dialed in, well, not without being followed up by other move sets at least) and at least to me it resembles more Virtua Fighter than let's say, the Yakuza games even with the changes in contrast to the originals.


 
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@Guppy Or I could just play Shenmue III on "story mode" which makes the battles a joke. At least in the first two games, you had to lose first before things became easier. My point is this, every game (outside of Virtua Fighter perhaps) has its broken elements.

For example, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has the Fox Blade which can one-shot everything in the game outside of bosses. That alone should demotivate me from learning the combat system. There are broken elements in Shenmue III as well such as the Lotus Cutter move but does that stop you from making your case that Shenmue III is a complex game? After all, why learn a system when I can cheese it?

Tekken as a whole has more moves than Virtua Fighter but Virtua Fighter still has a better combat system. It is about how many of those moves are viable. A non-combat example would be the food, why should I buy an apple when garlic will restore more health? Finally, in your post, you admitted you had to dial in some of your commands.

I will state this one more time; I did not say that I thought the combat system was bad, I stated that I find it inferior to the first two games. Just like I find Tekken's combat system to be inferior to Virtua Fighter's that does not make Tekken's combat system bad. The only thing we are going to agree on is that I am still not convinced even with your video.
 

Guppy

Level-Headed Mud Spider
Joined
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@Guppy Or I could just play Shenmue III on "story mode" which makes the battles a joke. At least in the first two games, you had to lose first before things became easier. My point is this, every game (outside of Virtua Fighter perhaps) has its broken elements.

For example, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has the Fox Blade which can one-shot everything in the game outside of bosses. That alone should demotivate me from learning the combat system. There are broken elements in Shenmue III as well such as the Lotus Cutter move but does that stop you from making your case that Shenmue III is a complex game? After all, why learn a system when I can cheese it?

Tekken as a whole has more moves than Virtua Fighter but Virtua Fighter still has a better combat system. It is about how many of those moves are viable. A non-combat example would be the food, why should I buy an apple when garlic will restore more health? Finally, in your post, you admitted you had to dial in some of your commands.

I will state this one more time; I did not say that I thought the combat system was bad, I stated that I find it inferior to the first two games. Just like I find Tekken's combat system to be inferior to Virtua Fighter's that does not make Tekken's combat system bad. The only thing we are going to agree on is that I am still not convinced even with your video.
I don't know if you can cheese the game on the higher difficulty settings with one technique but it's funny you mention it when the assault elbow was one of the main cheese moves for the original games. An what moves are not viable in S3? I'd think moves in S3 would be more viable than ever given its peculiar mechanics, like the slow brawling uppercut which can be even chained on a combo. Don't remember being able to do that on S1 & 2. And fair enough if you find the combat inferior, but what is the negative point on the dial-in combos? It's not like you have to map them on a single button and even regular fighting games got them, or what difference is that to a fireball that adds a free 3~4 hits? Either way, combos without them can be perfectly executed... maybe up to 5~6 hit combo, just not getting that 12 hit combo.
 
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"For example, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has the Fox Blade which can one-shot everything in the game outside of bosses. That alone should demotivate me from learning the combat system. There are broken elements in Shenmue III as well such as the Lotus Cutter move but does that stop you from making your case that Shenmue III is a complex game? After all, why learn a system when I can cheese it?"

Because it is cool to learn and make the fight look cool :)

As say Guppy otherwise, i would only use assault elbow in S1 and S2
 
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I don't know if you can cheese the game on the higher difficulty settings with one technique but it's funny you mention it when the assault elbow was one of the main cheese moves for the original games. What moves are not viable in S3? I'd think moves in S3 would be more viable than ever given its peculiar mechanics, like the slow brawling uppercut which can be even chained on a combo. Don't remember being able to do that on S1 & 2. And fair enough if you find the combat inferior, but what is the negative point on the dial-in combos? It's not like you have to map them on a single button and even regular fighting games got them, or what difference is that to a fireball that adds free 3~4 hits? Either way, combos without them can be perfectly executed... maybe up to 5~6 hit combo, just not getting that 12 hit combo.
Sigh...I think I am going to drop this point because I am either doing a poor job of conveying it or people keep missing my point. I will bring this up one last time so that it can become clear. Your point was that the first two Shenmue video games became easier the more you lost and therefore de-incentivized the player to improve their skill.

I rebutted this argument that there are plenty of other games that have broken elements in them even ones with deep combat systems such as Devil May Cry or Metal Gear Rising, etc, but it does not change the depth they have. So I do not understand why you would make this argument to refute mine. This has nothing to do with the elements in Shenmue III. I will do you a favor and argue that Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka's parrying mechanisms are broken. That does not mean that takes away from the depth the title has. My problem with the combat system in Shenmue III has nothing to do with its broken elements. I do not like it because as a series that has Virtua Fighter entwined into its DNA, the only logical combat system I will accept for Shenmue is Virtua Fighter.

I do not dislike dial-a-combo per say, but it is a bit jarring to go from a link and chain combat system of the first two Shenmue titles to a dial-a-combo in the third. It is like going from Street Fighter to Mortal Kombat. I enjoyed the combat in the first two titles because the combination of attacks felt endless to me which is the exact opposite of Shenmue III in my opinion.

I will state this one last time, I do not think this combat system is bad as it does have a lot of the fundamentals needed for excellent combat. But I remain unconvinced that Shenmue III's combat holds up to the first two games. This is not going to stop me from supporting the series because I love the lore, mysticism, music, characters, environments, etc, but that does not mean I will not criticize it from time to time. Yu, Suzuki is a legend, and I will continue to hold him to that standard.
 
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