Friday 12th October 2001 will go down as a black day for Shenmue fans across the world and especially the US. It was the day Sega sold out, slapped their loyal Dreamcast fans across the face, and sold the rights to Shenmue in the US to Microsoft and their Xbox. All is not lost however if you live in the US and want to play Shenmue II in English as it is still coming to the UK and Europe thanks to Sega ditching the UK distribution (seriously). Sega handed distribution of it's first-party Dreamcast games to another company called Big Ben Interactive who have a contract to bring Shenmue II out, meaning that Micro$oft can't touch the PAL release no matter how much money they throw at it. Therefore anyone in the US can import a copy from the UK from November 30th and stick their middle finger right up at M$.
PAL (phase-alternating lines) is the TV system used in Europe, Africa, and Australasia. In the US, Canada, South America, and Asia a different system called NTSC (National Television Standards Council) is used. PAL actually gives a much better picture than NTSC as is has 625 lines instead of 525 for NTSC, but as most games are developed in Japan and the US (NTSC territories) they are bordered to make up for the additional 100 lines and run 17.5% slower on PAL because PAL TVs are 50Hz (updates 50 times a second) as standard and NTSC TVs are 60Hz. Don't worry, most PAL DC games have a 60Hz option so that PAL gamers with a 60Hz TV don't have to suffer a bad conversion. This means that you'll be able to play a PAL version of Shenmue II just the same as it would have been on an NTSC system.
Yes, the PAL version is exactly the same as the US one would have been. That means subtitled with Japanese voices and not with English voices.
Unfortunately it's not that easy. Dreamcasts have a regional lockout which stops games from one country working in another. This is common to all non-handheld systems because it stops hardcore gamers importing games early and taking profits from the local release. There are two main ways to get around this which I will outline below:
Importing from the UK is much harder than from Japan as the games are less readily available due to low (or non-existant) demand. It's not impossible to find somewhere that can help you if you poke around on a search engine, though. If you can't be bothered, here are some of the best UK-based stores that can ship the game to you:
Video Game Centre
If you want to order it from a store based inside the US, go to Cart Mart.