Monday, May 26, 2008


As the credits rolled on GTA IV I started to wonder how much the game cost to make, so after some searching... $100 million. After some additional searching you figure out that GTA IV is the first game to eclipse Shenmue in this category. All roads take you back to Shenmue. Shenmue cost a reported 70 million.

In a handful of ways, the comparisons are there. Come to think about it there may not be a GTA IV without Shenmue. Besides the gameplay; the story is similar. Our main protagonists are hell bent on revenge. Ryo is hunting down the person who murdered his father, Niko is looking for a person who betrayed him and both characters have doomed relationships and find only emptiness in revenge.

Shenmue can't really be considered a 'sandbox' game like GTA titles can. Shenmue has a clock that haunts your dreams and keeps things moving forward. Ryo needs his sleep, man! GTA IV uses that gameplay element a bit more now then previous installments. I felt more rushed in GTA IV but a big motivator there was story whereas in Shenmue the story sometimes left you looking for sailors, dropping yen into a Hang-On cabinet and working a regular job moving boxes around, which only made it seem like a sandbox.

The thing Shenmue had going for it was intimacy. I really felt like I was part of the world. GTA IV has that as well, but it just can't compare. Even if I could have, I would never even have thought of jumping to my death from 50 stories while firing off rounds from my carbine all the while hoping to land on a vehicle just to see what happens to Ryo. The story in GTA got to me, but not enough to prevent me from trying those types of things. Money comes easily to Nikko, not so easily for Ryo, playing Lucky Hit could only earn him so much.

Now that I've finished up the GTA IV story I can't help but think of how refreshing it would be to have a game with the same elements, but without the witty advertising, cursing, vulgar talk radio stations, ethnic stereotypes, etc... not that I don't like it, it's just that sometimes it took me out of the game. That said, there is definitely a self awareness about it at Rockstar throughout the game though. At one point even, Niko switches off the radio station, stating that he couldn't stand it anymore. I was impressed. It also made me wonder if there is another game that Rockstar wants to make but cannot because it wouldn't sell. Maybe a game closer akin to Shenmue.

Think about the buzz around a Shenmue game made by Take-Two's Rockstar.

Think about it.

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