I've just read the original review and I think he totally missed the "emotional" dimension of Shenmue. Instead it seems that he reviewed every aspect separately and used some standard weighting as if he was testing a soulless object. Also the fact that he doesn't say a word about Shenmue beeing just the first chapter of a long saga appears to me like a lack of vision and inability to see the big picture of Shenmue's gameplay mechanics.
That's not exactly the kind of approach I would expect for a game review, especially when it comes to a game like Shenmue, back in the end of the last century where the whole concept of open world was still to be defined.
#1 rule of video games: they have to be fun, or captivate
I can easily understand that Shenmue wasn't fun for everybody, in fact not every moment spent in Shenmue was fun to play, but I don't agree at all when it comes to beeing captivating. It's pace, story and characters are captivating but there is a cost for that: As the player, you're asked to willingly be part of this living universe. (That includes boring jobs and events at specific times...)
In conclusion, If we (people who *liked the game, *to say the least) were wrong and he was right, we would never have seen such a successful Kickstarter 16 years after the original game release. But hey, just my two cents. I'm a gamer, not a journalist.