Why the story in Shenmue 3 is good/Why the story in Shenmue 3 is bad

Joined
Aug 24, 2018
So it's been about a month since I beat S3 and I still largely feel the same as I did days after finishing it.

I still believe the biggest flaw is the severe lack of a main villain. That should have been Niao Sun's role, but it just didn't happen. I don't necessarily even mean we had to see her that often in cut scenes or a fight, it would have been fine if Ryo and Shenhua simply heard of Niao Sun through word of mouth. But we get none of that and she feels shoe-horned into the game at the end.

I think overall the story is good considering the circumstances, and the rushed ending with the inserted random sidekicks and Niao Sun demonstrates the team ran out of time and money. No doubt more was planned for the ending, I'm sure of it. Likewise I'm sure more would have been done to flesh out the relationship between Shenhua and Ryo in Niaowu if it were possible.

Like most players I was immediately frustrated with the lack of concrete answers, but the passing of time has led me to appreciate that this is a slow-burner game much like the first one. My concern however isn't so much to do with the pacing of the story if it was guaranteed that we're getting 4, 5, etc. My worry is actually whether S3 could afford a slow-burner pacing when perhaps impact would have been more likely to draw in new players, generate excitement and make it easier to attract additional investment.

So in sum, good story given the circumstances, but concerned with pacing given those circumstances and whether S3 delivers enough to keep investors on board.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2019
The main cutscenes use the same overly-dramatic camera swings and zooms found in the first two games, inspired by Hong Kong cinema. Wasn't it the exact same animation director from I & II? So why would the quality of the directing be worse? Off the top of my head, the scene entering Niaowu was amazing, the last scene before leaving Bailu was beautiful, the ending cutscene was epic, Chai stealing the scroll and that whole QTE was great, the chase scene with the Red Snakes had some great animation, Lan Di owning Ryo then destroying Ren with that kick was awesome.

I fail to see how any of those scenes felt "amateurish". Put them in Dreamcast graphics and they'd fit perfectly alongside the DC games' cutscenes. You need to seperate the janky parts of III (facial animation, regular dialogue scenes) in order to fairly judge the good parts.

*If that ending cutscene was in I or II, people would've been masturbating themselves to death over it for the past 18 years.



Cutscene direction isnt about zooming and swinging. It's also about how each scene is shot. It's not because Shenmue III cutscenes have swinging and zooming that they're well done. It never have any of the good shots I and II had.

If that ending cutscene was in I/II, people still wouldnt care because of how poorly shot it is.

Heck, when you compare the scene where the two mirrors are unveiled in 2 and 3... You can see that drop in quality, both in the shots and aesthetic.

It does a proper job at showing something and conveying the main point. It just never have the craftmanship of II.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Cutscene direction isnt about zooming and swinging. It's also about how each scene is shot. It's not because Shenmue III cutscenes have swinging and zooming that they're well done. It never have any of the good shots I and II had.

If that ending cutscene was in I/II, people still wouldnt care because of how poorly shot it is.

Heck, when you compare the scene where the two mirrors are unveiled in 2 and 3... You can see that drop in quality, both in the shots and aesthetic.

It does a proper job at showing something and conveying the main point. It just never have the craftmanship of II.
You mean you can't just swing and zoom a camera and it's good cinematography?? I never knew! :rolleyes:

Anyway, just saying "III doesn't have any good shots like in I & II" and "just compare it to I & II" isn't a real argument.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2019
You mean you can't just swing and zoom a camera and it's good cinematography?? I never knew! :rolleyes:

Anyway, just saying "III doesn't have any good shots like in I & II" and "just compare it to I & II" isn't a real argument.


Of course it is. It's an argument pertaining to the quality of the cutscene. I rewatched that last cutscene as you said, on the great wall. The face shots are bad.

Heck, if you want another comparison: In Shenmue II, the discussion between Yuanda Zhu and everyone at the table, about the mirror.
In Shenmue III, the discussion between Ryo and Yuan about the mirror and Lan Di. Budget isn't an issue here. Direction is. In fact, even though that Shenmue II cutscene, which leads to Ryo leaving Kowloon isn't the end, it's a far better shot ending than the one in Shenmue III.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2019
To highlight what I mean with two specific exemple:

Ren in Shenmue II about the treasure:


Ren in Shenmue III about the treasure:


In the case of Shenmue II, each angles is carefully chosen, the scene is done with a lot of care and is focusing on the aesthetic. In the case of Shenmue III, you basically have a cheap travelling which looks odd, almost comical with the "hearing each one of them thinking".

And yes, I'm totally aware these aren't the same scenes at all. Which brings us to the next exemple: The cave cutscene:

The mirrors reveal in Shenmue II:


The mirrors reveal in Shemue III:


Notice how in Shenmue II, the reveal of the mirrors is slow, completly unlit, and only showing up slowly enough fire are lit. And I'm not only talking about a lighting standpoint, it's also about the camera angle. The mirrors are shown in a slow buildup. In Shenmue 3 though ? It's shown lit, pretty fast with a cheap rotation of the scene.
When the mirrors are finally revealed, you get a rotation in 2, then a nice angle with the characters face, discovering the mirrors:
unknown.png

unknown.png

But in 3 ? Well, you get the rotation, done in a less climatic way... and this:
unknown.png

unknown.png


Shenhua then proceeds to tell in both cases that's what her father was carving. In Shenmue II, you have a subtle wait with another wide view of the mirrors, to build up momentum on the scene. Shenhua then proceeds to put her hand on her chest and tell the poem, Ryo then softly turns his head around to listen:
unknown.png

unknown.png

In Shenmue 3 though ?
Shenhua instantly tell the poem after saying that her father was carving this, without any other movement, without building any momentum on the scene, Ryo then already has his head turned toward her:
unknown.png


Then comes the "I shall wait..." line, with the camera slowly coming toward Shenhua in II:
unknown.png

unknown.png


In 3 though ? The camera decided to say "hey, fuck this, let's make a rotation on the fire":
unknown.png

The next plan is pretty similar in both games, except when it comes to the "single star shall shine, alone"
In Shenmue II, you have the camera moving from Ryo's face to Shenhua's face, who's still telling the poem with a lot of determination and concentration:
unknown.png

In Shenmue III, she's only facing the camera, as if she was reading a prompter:
unknown.png


I wont even touch the ending of the scene because in II, they build it up in such a mystic way, making you understand that these two characters have a strong bond by fate.
In III though ? Well... the scene ends and they turn back to go outside as if they just witnessed something normal.

This is what amateurish means. This is what I'm saying and now explaining with pictures and video.
Both scenes are telling the same thing. Both scenes are conveying the same idea. The difference is that the one from 17 years ago is done in a far better way. The angles are carefully choosen. The way the character moves is meaningful. And a strong tension is being built to deliver one of the best scene you can ever witness in a video game. The one from 2019 though is doing a decent job at conveying the idea that they found two big mirrors. But nothing else. The characters barely interact, no momentum is built, no relation is being built on screen.

This is not a budget issue. This is not a "not enough story" issue. This is an issue of story telling, cutscene direction, call it whatever you want. And this is where Shenmue III disappoint me the most.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
The only thing I find off-putting with those examples is the English VO, which completely kills the mood of both scenes.

The actual direction of the cave scene is very similar, but there are more cuts away from Shenhua's face in III, and I can see why they've done it. You can get away with prolonged close-ups when you've got cutting edge character graphics and facial animation, but that isn't the case in III, by today's standards. I get the same feeling that the mirrors are being revealed by the flame, and I like the insert shot of Ryo and Shenhua with the flames in the foreground. It's really atmospheric with the particles in the air. The music's much better in II but apart from that, I like them both. Don't know what to tell ya :coffee:
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Location
france
Currently playing
shenmue chapter yokosuka
To highlight what I mean with two specific exemple:

Ren in Shenmue II about the treasure:


Ren in Shenmue III about the treasure:


In the case of Shenmue II, each angles is carefully chosen, the scene is done with a lot of care and is focusing on the aesthetic. In the case of Shenmue III, you basically have a cheap travelling which looks odd, almost comical with the "hearing each one of them thinking".

And yes, I'm totally aware these aren't the same scenes at all. Which brings us to the next exemple: The cave cutscene:

The mirrors reveal in Shenmue II:


The mirrors reveal in Shemue III:


Notice how in Shenmue II, the reveal of the mirrors is slow, completly unlit, and only showing up slowly enough fire are lit. And I'm not only talking about a lighting standpoint, it's also about the camera angle. The mirrors are shown in a slow buildup. In Shenmue 3 though ? It's shown lit, pretty fast with a cheap rotation of the scene.
When the mirrors are finally revealed, you get a rotation in 2, then a nice angle with the characters face, discovering the mirrors:
unknown.png

unknown.png

But in 3 ? Well, you get the rotation, done in a less climatic way... and this:
unknown.png

unknown.png


Shenhua then proceeds to tell in both cases that's what her father was carving. In Shenmue II, you have a subtle wait with another wide view of the mirrors, to build up momentum on the scene. Shenhua then proceeds to put her hand on her chest and tell the poem, Ryo then softly turns his head around to listen:
unknown.png

unknown.png

In Shenmue 3 though ?
Shenhua instantly tell the poem after saying that her father was carving this, without any other movement, without building any momentum on the scene, Ryo then already has his head turned toward her:
unknown.png


Then comes the "I shall wait..." line, with the camera slowly coming toward Shenhua in II:
unknown.png

unknown.png


In 3 though ? The camera decided to say "hey, fuck this, let's make a rotation on the fire":
unknown.png

The next plan is pretty similar in both games, except when it comes to the "single star shall shine, alone"
In Shenmue II, you have the camera moving from Ryo's face to Shenhua's face, who's still telling the poem with a lot of determination and concentration:
unknown.png

In Shenmue III, she's only facing the camera, as if she was reading a prompter:
unknown.png


I wont even touch the ending of the scene because in II, they build it up in such a mystic way, making you understand that these two characters have a strong bond by fate.
In III though ? Well... the scene ends and they turn back to go outside as if they just witnessed something normal.

This is what amateurish means. This is what I'm saying and now explaining with pictures and video.
Both scenes are telling the same thing. Both scenes are conveying the same idea. The difference is that the one from 17 years ago is done in a far better way. The angles are carefully choosen. The way the character moves is meaningful. And a strong tension is being built to deliver one of the best scene you can ever witness in a video game. The one from 2019 though is doing a decent job at conveying the idea that they found two big mirrors. But nothing else. The characters barely interact, no momentum is built, no relation is being built on screen.

This is not a budget issue. This is not a "not enough story" issue. This is an issue of story telling, cutscene direction, call it whatever you want. And this is where Shenmue III disappoint me the most.
How they stand still at the end of the cutscene in 3 look so dumb to me. And shortly after you have a walk full of fade to black.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2019
The only thing I find off-putting with those examples is the English VO, which completely kills the mood of both scenes.

The actual direction of the cave scene is very similar, but there are more cuts away from Shenhua's face in III, and I can see why they've done it. You can get away with prolonged close-ups when you've got cutting edge character graphics and facial animation, but that isn't the case in III, by today's standards. I get the same feeling that the mirrors are being revealed by the flame, and I like the insert shot of Ryo and Shenhua with the flames in the foreground. It's really atmospheric with the particles in the air. The music's much better in II but apart from that, I like them both. Don't know what to tell ya :coffee:


It's not similar, hence the exemples I shown. There's not the momentum nor the tension happening in 2 in the cutscene from 3. That's what set a good cutscene from an average one. In 3, you don't feel the tension between the two characters, you don't feel the link between them, that bond born from fate. Of course, the music is better in 2 but it wouldn't work in 3, because in 2, it fits for an ending. You can like them both, it's okay. But that insert shot with the flames in the foreground is amateurish. It's what people do when they want to make a cutscene not too static but are missing ideas.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2019
How they stand still at the end of the cutscene in 3 look so dumb to me. And shortly after you have a walk full of fade to black.


Not only it's dumb, it doesn't even look like they're looking at each others... when it's supposed to be a key scene in Shenmue II. That's because of that kind of thing that Shenmue III is lacking in term of chara dev. Because everything feels disconnected.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
By "trains at a temple" you mean mostly shifting books, which is the most boring part of the game. Training is a core part of III in a way that it never was in I & II.
No by training at a temple I mean actually learning about martial arts philosophy as well as new moves. Surely you remember learning about the 4 wude, Iron Palm, catching leaves, Counter Elbow Assault, and finding the Wulinshu. Sure you might be able to argue that S3 better simulates the grind it takes to actually get better at martial arts, but the story isn’t about that. It’s clear that no matter how much Ryo trains, he can’t win if he doesn’t learn the right move. S2 on the other hand is actually about Ryo learning to be more patient and expanding his skills.


Also, are you just conveniently ignoring the fact you have to grind for money in II? It feels even more unnatural in that game because, up until those points, you don't actually need money for anything.
This is totally backwards.
1. There are story reasons for Ryo to need money, his bag was stolen and he’s in a big city where he needs to pay for his room as opposed to S3 where’s he’s in a tiny mountain town staying with Shenhua for free (and he presumably should still have a bunch of money from S2)

2. This is the worst part of S2, so S3 doing it again twice and making it more annoying 20 years later earns it no marks from me. At least save scumming makes it faster.

Losing in Shenmue III taught me patience in a way catching leaves in II never did, because I tried and tried, and lost and lost. I tried to cheese several fights but couldn't do it
How? The game isn’t about this at all. You lose fights because you don’t have the right move, that’s all. S2 teaches you patience by emphasizing that there’s more to martial arts than pursuing your own self interest and that the journey itself can be its own reward. Again, I can’t stress this enough, S2 is actually about Ryo training and learning; S3 just requires him to learn a new move. There’s a world of difference.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
By "trains at a temple" you mean mostly shifting books, which is the most boring part of the game. Training is a core part of III in a way that it never was in I & II.
No by training at a temple I mean actually learning about martial arts philosophy as well as new moves. Surely you remember learning about the 4 wude, Iron Palm, catching leaves, Counter Elbow Assault, and finding the Wulinshu. Sure you might be able to argue that S3 better simulates the grind it takes to actually get better at martial arts, but the story isn’t about that. It’s clear that no matter how much Ryo trains, he can’t win if he doesn’t learn the right move. S2 on the other hand is actually about Ryo learning to be more patient and expanding his skills.


Also, are you just conveniently ignoring the fact you have to grind for money in II? It feels even more unnatural in that game because, up until those points, you don't actually need money for anything.
This is totally backwards.
1. There are story reasons for Ryo to need money, his bag was stolen and he’s in a big city where he needs to pay for his room as opposed to S3 where’s he’s in a tiny mountain town staying with Shenhua for free (and he presumably should still have a bunch of money frlm

2. This is the worst part of S2, so S3 doing it again twice and making it more annoying 20 years later earns it no marks from me. At least save scumming makes it faster.

Losing in Shenmue III taught me patience in a way catching leaves in II never did, because I tried and tried, and lost and lost. I tried to cheese several fights but couldn't do it
How? The game isn’t about this at all. You lose fights because you don’t have the right move, that’s all. S2 teaches you patience by emphasizing that there’s more to martial arts than pursuing your own self interest and that the journey itself can be its own reward. Again, I can’t stress this enough, S2 is actually about Ryo training and learning; S3 just requires him to learn a new move. There’s a world of difference.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
No by training at a temple I mean actually learning about martial arts philosophy as well as new moves. Surely you remember learning about the 4 wude, Iron Palm, catching leaves, Counter Elbow Assault, and finding the Wulinshu. Sure you might be able to argue that S3 better simulates the grind it takes to actually get better at martial arts, but the story isn’t about that. It’s clear that no matter how much Ryo trains, he can’t win if he doesn’t learn the right move. S2 on the other hand is actually about Ryo learning to be more patient and expanding his skills.



This is totally backwards.
1. There are story reasons for Ryo to need money, his bag was stolen and he’s in a big city where he needs to pay for his room as opposed to S3 where’s he’s in a tiny mountain town staying with Shenhua for free (and he presumably should still have a bunch of money frlm

2. This is the worst part of S2, so S3 doing it again twice and making it more annoying 20 years later earns it no marks from me. At least save scumming makes it faster.


How? The game isn’t about this at all. You lose fights because you don’t have the right move, that’s all. S2 teaches you patience by emphasizing that there’s more to martial arts than pursuing your own self interest and that the journey itself can be its own reward. Again, I can’t stress this enough, S2 is actually about Ryo training and learning; S3 just requires him to learn a new move. There’s a world of difference.
The difference is gameplay. In Shenmue III you actually train and progress alongside Ryo. You become a better player as Ryo becomes a better martial artist. The story may be about "learning one move" but the gameplay is more than that. You need to put in the time to get better. In Shenmue II, all the philosophising is done in cutscenes and barely has any application in the gameplay. You might get better at QTEs -- that's about it. It was great for the time, but games are about what you do as a player, not what you watch during a cutscene.
 

B-Man

Joined: July 2003
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
The Twilight Zone
To highlight what I mean with two specific exemple:

Ren in Shenmue II about the treasure:


Ren in Shenmue III about the treasure:


In the case of Shenmue II, each angles is carefully chosen, the scene is done with a lot of care and is focusing on the aesthetic. In the case of Shenmue III, you basically have a cheap travelling which looks odd, almost comical with the "hearing each one of them thinking".

And yes, I'm totally aware these aren't the same scenes at all. Which brings us to the next exemple: The cave cutscene:

The mirrors reveal in Shenmue II:


The mirrors reveal in Shemue III:


Notice how in Shenmue II, the reveal of the mirrors is slow, completly unlit, and only showing up slowly enough fire are lit. And I'm not only talking about a lighting standpoint, it's also about the camera angle. The mirrors are shown in a slow buildup. In Shenmue 3 though ? It's shown lit, pretty fast with a cheap rotation of the scene.
When the mirrors are finally revealed, you get a rotation in 2, then a nice angle with the characters face, discovering the mirrors:
unknown.png

unknown.png

But in 3 ? Well, you get the rotation, done in a less climatic way... and this:
unknown.png

unknown.png


Shenhua then proceeds to tell in both cases that's what her father was carving. In Shenmue II, you have a subtle wait with another wide view of the mirrors, to build up momentum on the scene. Shenhua then proceeds to put her hand on her chest and tell the poem, Ryo then softly turns his head around to listen:
unknown.png

unknown.png

In Shenmue 3 though ?
Shenhua instantly tell the poem after saying that her father was carving this, without any other movement, without building any momentum on the scene, Ryo then already has his head turned toward her:
unknown.png


Then comes the "I shall wait..." line, with the camera slowly coming toward Shenhua in II:
unknown.png

unknown.png


In 3 though ? The camera decided to say "hey, fuck this, let's make a rotation on the fire":
unknown.png

The next plan is pretty similar in both games, except when it comes to the "single star shall shine, alone"
In Shenmue II, you have the camera moving from Ryo's face to Shenhua's face, who's still telling the poem with a lot of determination and concentration:
unknown.png

In Shenmue III, she's only facing the camera, as if she was reading a prompter:
unknown.png


I wont even touch the ending of the scene because in II, they build it up in such a mystic way, making you understand that these two characters have a strong bond by fate.
In III though ? Well... the scene ends and they turn back to go outside as if they just witnessed something normal.

This is what amateurish means. This is what I'm saying and now explaining with pictures and video.
Both scenes are telling the same thing. Both scenes are conveying the same idea. The difference is that the one from 17 years ago is done in a far better way. The angles are carefully choosen. The way the character moves is meaningful. And a strong tension is being built to deliver one of the best scene you can ever witness in a video game. The one from 2019 though is doing a decent job at conveying the idea that they found two big mirrors. But nothing else. The characters barely interact, no momentum is built, no relation is being built on screen.

This is not a budget issue. This is not a "not enough story" issue. This is an issue of story telling, cutscene direction, call it whatever you want. And this is where Shenmue III disappoint me the most.
I don't think you can directly compare the two scenes because one is at the end of a game and one is at the beginning. Everything is built up in a slower, more dramatic way in Shenmue II because it's a big reveal. In Shenmue III, you presumably already know what's going to happen. And even if you don't, it's the introduction to a story and not the climax. Therefore the tone of the scene is slightly different.

This is not a budget issue.
How is it not a budget issue? Okay, let's say Shenmue III has inferior cutscene direction and cinematography compared to the first two games. Of course it's a budget issue! You're telling me that you don't think the cutscenes would be on par with those of the first two games if it had the same budget and the same team working on it?!

Budget is everything. I'm getting sick of these posts comparing Shenmue III to I & II and claiming that budget is no excuse for it having a lower standard of quality. You can't directly compare a pair of games that broke records for budget in their day to a crowdfunded game!

Everything that comprises the final product of Shenmue III represents some kind of compromise that Yu Suzuki had to make to create what he thought would be the best game possible with the budget he had, while also keeping his promises to backers and trying to make as many fans as he could happy. You can argue that he prioritized the wrong things. You can argue that the game tries to be a jack of all trades but is a master of none. You can argue that it had poor storytelling. Hell, you can even argue that the whole thing is just abysmal and has no redeeming qualities if you really want to. These are all subjective opinions.

But to claim that it has nothing to do with budget is to deny reality. I'm sick and tired of all you armchair developers saying that "budget is no excuse" or "this is not a budget issue." If you expected a crowdfunded game to have the exact same level of quality in every respect as the first two Shenmue games, then that's your problem.
 
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mjqjazzbar
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It is definitely a budget issue. Look at the credits. Now, quality writing shouldn't be influenced by budget, but you have apparently a staff of three writing dialogue for all characters and a script for the actual story. Could be a very tough job for a small team, especially as the writing relates to the actual quest design and world building that also take quite a few resources...
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2019
I don't think you can directly compare the two scenes because one is at the end of a game and one is at the beginning. Everything is built up in a slower, more dramatic way in Shenmue II because it's a big reveal. In Shenmue III, you presumably already know what's going to happen. And even if you don't, it's the introduction to a story and not the climax. Therefore the tone of the scene is slightly different.


How is it not a budget issue? Okay, let's say Shenmue III has inferior cutscene direction and cinematography compared to the first two games. Of course it's a budget issue! You're telling me that you don't think the cutscenes would be on par with those of the first two games if it had the same budget and the same team working on it?!

Budget is everything. I'm getting sick of these posts comparing Shenmue III to I & II and claiming that budget is no excuse for it having a lower standard of quality. You can't directly compare a pair of games that broke records for budget in their day to a crowdfunded game!

Everything that comprises the final product of Shenmue III represents some kind of compromise that Yu Suzuki had to make to create what he thought would be the best game possible with the budget he had, while also keeping his promises to backers and trying to make as many fans as he could happy. You can argue that he prioritized the wrong things. You can argue that the game tries to be a jack of all trades but is a master of none. You can argue that it had poor storytelling. Hell, you can even argue that the whole thing is just abysmal and has no redeeming qualities if you really want to. These are all subjective opinions.

But to claim that it has nothing to do with budget is to deny reality. I'm sick and tired of all you armchair developers saying that "budget is no excuse" or "this is not a budget issue." If you expected a crowdfunded game to have the exact same level of quality in every respect as the first two Shenmue games, then that's your problem.



The thing is, nearly all cutscenes in the game have the same issue. So it's not about "one is an intro, the other is an ending".

And yeah, it's the same scene that has been rebuilt.
Choosing where to put the camera during that scene in UE4 is a design choice. Not a budget constraint, unless you want to hide something because of budget constraint. This isn't the case here.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
The difference is gameplay. In Shenmue III you actually train and progress alongside Ryo. You become a better player as Ryo becomes a better martial artist. The story may be about "learning one move" but the gameplay is more than that. You need to put in the time to get better. In Shenmue II, all the philosophising is done in cutscenes and barely has any application in the gameplay. You might get better at QTEs -- that's about it. It was great for the time, but games are about what you do as a player, not what you watch during a cutscene.
The gameplay in S3 is not about more than that as you don’t actually need to train and your training has nothing to do with actually getting better at fighting. The moves you learn to defeat the bosses aren’t even available outside cutscenes! What you’re describing is something akin to Dark Souls or the Witness, where “learning” the game makes you better and gates your progress and that would be an amazing structure for Shenmue. Too bad S3 does nothing like that. You can completely ignore training and beat the bosses perfectly fine if you want (once you learn the slow mo dodge the game never teaches you) and obtaining the body check moves requires no actual martial arts training, mostly just grinding for money. Unless you think every RPG with a leveling system is a masterclass of teaching defeat.
 

B-Man

Joined: July 2003
Joined
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Location
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The thing is, nearly all cutscenes in the game have the same issue. So it's not about "one is an intro, the other is an ending".

And yeah, it's the same scene that has been rebuilt.
Choosing where to put the camera during that scene in UE4 is a design choice. Not a budget constraint, unless you want to hide something because of budget constraint. This isn't the case here.
The fact of the matter is that they could have spent more money on cinematography and cutscene direction, but would have had to spend less elsewhere. It is a budget constraint.

You can't simplify everything by saying that "it was a design choice" when the size of the team making these choices, as well as their talent/experience level, was directly dictated by the budget.

Shenmue III was an extremely ambitious game for the budget that it had. They could have spent more time polishing the cutscenes, but then sacrifices would have had to be made in other areas. This is tied to the budget. You can argue that those sacrifices would have been worth it, but denying that budget had anything to do with it is just incorrect.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2019
The fact of the matter is that they could have spent more money on cinematography and cutscene direction, but would have had to spend less elsewhere. It is a budget constraint.

You can't simplify everything by saying that "it was a design choice" when the size of the team making these choices, as well as their talent/experience level, was directly dictated by the budget.

Shenmue III was an extremely ambitious game for the budget that it had. They could have spent more time polishing the cutscenes, but then sacrifices would have had to be made in other areas. This is tied to the budget. You can argue that those sacrifices would have been worth it, but denying that budget had anything to do with it is just incorrect.


Mmh, actually I can see your point. If indeed the cutscenes had a second pass for more polish, yes. And that's indeed a budget constraint for that point.
 

B-Man

Joined: July 2003
Joined
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Location
The Twilight Zone
I dont think the problem of Shenmue III is how much of a story it tells. I think the problem is the content of said story and its presentation.

I never expected Shenmue III to be story packed. I never expected Shenmue III to give answers.

What I expected from Shenmue III is to be engaging and memorable, which is where it failed imo.

Heck, Shenmue III could've been only about Bailu but fledge character developpement a lot more, it could've been a better story.

In fact, I dont think Shenmue's story as a whole is good or was ever good to begin with. It always was serviceable. It never shined for the premise of story depth. I mean, it's your average shonen story about kung fu and vengeance.

What made Shenmue's story engaging though is its world building, its character cast, its cutscene direction and its set pieces. Basically, Shenmue from I and II has been an engaging, touching, beautiful and memorable journey. Because you remember characters. Because you remember scenes. Because you remember moments. I have far more vivid memories of Shenmue I-II that I replayed in April than Shenmue III that I played last month.

Let's keep Shenmue II out of the equation and let's talk about Shenmue I, which is a smaller game.
Dobuita is small af. The dock is small too.
Shenmue III is a massive game compared to it. And yet I have far more memories of I than III, because I was introducing a shitload of memorable characters that you CARE about. The cutscene direction was superb, most of the cutscene were directed with care. The characters either had depth or were just charming. As the game moved on, characters were developped too. Even side characters had their own story going on. I actually cared about Dobuita. I cared about Ine san, Fuku san, Nozomi, Guizhang, Tom, Goro, Mark. Heck I even cared about side characters such as Akemi, Megumi or the cat.
And the game had such a mysticism going around it, a unique and special mood. Same for the memorable moments. There are a lot of scenes I love to rewatch from Shenmue I.
Even the antagonist. Despite having not a lot of screen time, Terry still manage to have something going on.


But when it comes to Shenmue III ? I played a decent game. What will I remember from this journey ? Well, not so much. The game was packed with content and activities. The game was huge. And yet... It felt so empty. It felt... Artificial.
From the characters, I will remember Rin. Also the broom girl cause I liked her design. And the hotel lady. All the rest... I cant even name them. I didnt care about them. I didnt care about leaving Bailu when leaving Yokosuka or Hong Kong felt really harsh. I didnt care about the world of Shenmue III because it felt completly artificial and underdevelopped.
I remember no specific scene that I'd love to rewatch. Because either they didnt feature interesting characters... Or the cutscene direction was just really bad. It felt amateurish. Bad angles. Bad direction. No memorable set piece. Is there a moment as hype as rescuing Nozomi ? Is there a cutscene as memorable as going back home on the motorbike ? I dont think so.

In the end, I dont think I care about what Shenmue is telling in term of story. I care about the journey. I care about the characters I meet, the scenes I see and how they're displayed. And for me Shenmue III has been a complete letdown on where I expected it.

I would've been more than fine with a linear Shenmue experience like CD4, as long as its cast, its scenes and setpieces were as memorable.

I'm still willing to see IV and I hope it'll focus more on those aspects this time.
By the way, I do agree with most of your points. I definitely think the biggest issue was the budget and that the game was too ambitious for its own good.

Ys Net was in a tough spot because they already had promised three main areas, etc. as part of the Kickstarter. On one hand, I feel that Shenmue III was an incredible accomplishment. But on the other hand, it really is missing the memorable characters and moments that the first two games had in spades.

It feels like the game strove for so much content that none of it was as fleshed out as it should have been. I also agree that the game could have been only about Bailu. In fact, I contend that the game would have been much better if Niaowu had been cut completely. They could have saved it, or some other Hong Kong-esque location, for Shenmue IV. If Shenmue III had primarily focused on Bailu, it could have essentially been equivalent to Shenmue I. A fully fleshed out Bailu Village that lasted for the entire game would have been akin to Yamanose, Sakuragaoka, and Dobuita. Baisha, or even just the castle area, could have been a much smaller location that became accessible via boat at some point in the game. That would have been similar to the harbor, and how it eventually became accessible by bus.

Then we could have learned more about the lore in Bailu, had more meaningful character interactions, and more cool set pieces. We wouldn't have had the same story beats repeated twice and Baisha/castle area could have been fleshed out just enough so that everything would feel more natural/cohesive and the ending wouldn't feel so rushed.

I really love Bailu Village as it is, but it definitely ends too abruptly and the whole thing ends up feeling rushed because they spent too many resources on Niaowu. Niaowu is a cool location and all, but it has no real story significance and it ends up feeling artificial, like they just wanted to have a bustling Hong Kong-type location for the hell of it. Even the nightly talks with Shenhua end once you leave the village. Bailu felt much more special to me as I was playing it, and I feel that it could have truly been the new Yokosuka had they devoted most of the development time to it.

Ultimately, I'm willing to cut the game a lot of slack because of the budget and the crowdfunded nature of the project. I think that if we get a Shenmue IV, it will be much closer to what most envisioned for Shenmue III. Now that they have assets, an engine, and the new gameplay systems in place, most of the work on the technical side is out of the way. They also wouldn't have to worry about adhering to promised stretch goals, spending resources on backer rewards, or including unnecessary fan service.
 
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