Saturday, November 27, 2004

I spent an hour or so at this game convention at COEX -- pretty cool (I got a free calendar!), but I found out that they're currently working on Shenmue Online. Now, I loved the first two chapters of the Shenmue series; it's this really sweeping revenge story where you have to gather clues to find your father's murderer, who's always one step ahead, etc. The problem with this going to some sort of half-assed online format was pretty well summed up in the promotional video they had looping at the main Shenmue stage:

The top of a skyscraper in Hong Kong. Ryo Hazuki has finally caught up with his father's killer, but at a cost: they've kidnapped his friend. There's about 50 guys on the roof. Things are looking, shall we say, black. But wait! All of a sudden a bunch of Final Fight-esque extras beam in from the Internet to help Ryo do battle! Hooray! The day is saved due to cooperation!

The problem here is that it totally strips the series of its drama. Before you were a loner, chasing your father's killer from country to country, making occasional alliances as you progressed toward the end of the story. MMORPGs are pretty much the opposite of a story-based game; since you're playing in a persistant world, the only time the story ends is when you die in an internet cafe from playing too long. There can never be closure to the story, because the story never closes. Heck, it's not even a good platform for roleplay:

Avenngerr3801: hey man sup i'm avenging my fathers death
xXxKILLAxXx: woot me2 give me yen im low on life
Avenngerr3801: NOOB I WILL PK YOU L8R

At least on the US servers, anyway. I dunno...I just watched Oldboy, and it really got me excited about what an Asian revenge film can be. Now it feels like I'm losing something really cool. Like if they announced A Better Tomorrow IV and it was going to have Ewoks or something.


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