Shenmue I & II Digital Foundry

Shenmue's HD remasters analysed: enhancements are sparse but the ports are solid gold

It may not be the full-on remaster/remake we might have hoped for, but Shenmue and its sequel are finally playable on modern hardware, courtesy of Sega and developer d3t. PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC releases are available, each delivering a remarkably close conversion of the Dreamcast originals, with one or two interesting tweaks.

Let's begin with the first game. It should come as no surprise that Shenmue HD delivers a higher resolution experience. Across all Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Shenmue HD operates with a 1080p pixel-count - whether you're gaming on base or enhanced hardware. The good news is that image quality is terrific. Shenmue uses a form of anti-aliasing that manages to clean up edges to the point where it's nearly impossible to see individual pixel steps. It's an extremely effective solution and it holds up well even when scaled on a 4K TV.

More importantly, in comparison to Dreamcast, shimmering is kept to an absolute minimum with thin objects and fine details appearing temporally stable in the HD version. In its original format, Shenmue exhibits a lot of noticeable shimmering and aliasing - something atypical for the Dreamcast. That's because Shenmue is one of the few games on the system to completely eschew mip-maps - something it shares with AM2's arcade games. My guess is that AM2 felt that the side effects of utilising bilinear filtering in combination with mip-maps - which leads to blurred textures at oblique angles - took too great a toll on the perception of fine detail. Thankfully, the new HD version handles this much more effectively, enabling clean surfaces devoid of shimmering and artefacts.

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