Shenmue 1 & 2 Modders Remaking the Games… Twice
A team of fans is working on not one, but two versions of a Shenmue 1+2 remake mod, which will transfer the contents of Sega’s Shenmue 2018 rerelease into Unreal Engine 4 and add a variety of enhancements.
Announced in a post on the Shenmue Dojo forums, the Shenmue Dragon and Phoenix Collection is an “engine replacement mod”, designed with the idea of bringing the gameplay of the 2018 Shenmue 1+2 release in line with the more modern Shenmue 3. It takes all the models, textures, animations, and gameplay from the 2018 rerelease and transfers them to Unreal Engine 4, the engine used for Shemue 3. This will allow for the addition of ray tracing and physically based rendering of materials for a more realistic look. The engine change has also allowed the team to stitch the whole game world together as a seamless map, rather than separate areas divided by loading screens.
Importantly, the team is producing two distinct versions of this Shenmue 1+2 mod; the Dragon Edition and the Phoenix Edition. The Dragon Edition is a “1:1 port” that is, as close as the team can make it, a straight engine replacement for the 2018 rerelease. Aside froim Unreal Engine 4 enhancements, this is planned to be the original games “warts and all”. The Phoenix Edition, on the other hand, is a “full UE4 reimagining of the games”. Like the Dragon Edition, it will be a full transfer of the game to Unreal Engine 4, but with new features designed to modernise the experience. The team has yet to finalise what those features are, but cite a new stamina system as one of the more major changes in mind, as well as smaller changes such as new cassettes in the Tomato Store.
As with almost all modding projects, there is no release date set. But progress is currently further down the line than just plans; the team have the assets ported to Unreal Engine 4 and are able to take in-engine screenshots. Of course, being a mod, this is a non-profit project from fans with no intention of being sold. Presumably, when complete the mod will require players to own the Shenmue 1+2 rerelease for it to work.
In a way, this project is similar to the official Shenmue remake that was cancelled. That remake was based on the original assets and looked similar to the original versions, but would have featured improved rendering and details.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.