- Developer: SEGA/Amusement Vision
- Publisher: SEGA
- Genre: 3rd Person Open world Adventure Beat em up
- Release Date:28/8/18
- Platforms: PS4
- Reviewed on: PS4 Pro on 4K Samsung TV
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
You would have thought that a game series now 7 games old would be running out of steam, but here with Kazuma Kiryu, and the Yakuza series, think again.
It’s true that at its heart Yakuza Kiwami 2, is much the same than all of the yakuza games, it’s just each time the developers make them, they add things to make the experience feel fresh and new.
First of all I need to explain where Yakuza Kiwami 2 sits in chronological order of the games. In chronological order, the series goes Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, Yakuza Kiwami 2, Yakuza 3, then 4, 5,6. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is basically a HD remaster of Yakuza 2 from the PS2 era. However they have used the new game engine from Yakuza 6 for this game, brought the script, visuals, audio and gameplay up to modern standards and created something special.
The first thing that will strike you about this game, is that when you think of the best story driven games, the media and friends will all point to games like The Last of Us, The Witcher, Uncharted, Life is Strange as some of the best out there. The Yakuza series, should be included in that conversation as one of the best ever. It is just dripping with tension, atmosphere, and gripping drama. I have played this game for hours on end, simply because I’m utterly engrossed in the superb narrative, voice acting ( despite the dialogue being all in Japanese with English text ), and stunning quality of the deep but superb story line. If you have not played the first 2 Yakuza games before this one, there is a 40 minute in game video ( optional ) to bring you up to speed before you start this one too.
What makes this narrative special for me, and something of a bug bear with the rest of the industry, is that right in the middle of huge drama, you will get laugh out loud humour pop up. Yakuza doesn’t take itself too seriously which is sadly missing in many other adventure games. For example, when’s the last time you heard a good fart joke in Tomb Raider, Gears of War or Halo ? Here in Yakuza though the humour abounds in spades, mainly in the side missions, but also forced in from the main ones on occasion too. When is the last time you played a game where a random NPC approached you for a pissing game of “Toylets” ??
Then we get on to the other activities you can play in the game. Goodness me, Darts, Gambling, Running a Cabaret Club, Creating a clan, Betting, Baseball, Golf and other games just to mention a few of them. Walk into an in game SEGA arcade building and you can also play virtual fighter and other games too.
The other thing Yakuza Kiwami 2 does so well is to reconstruct the real world places with amazing real life detail, and stunning graphics, to make you feel part of the world your in. The engine defines and renders this game with such sharpness. The highlight for me was walking down the riverside with all the neon lights reflected in such amazing detail in the rippling water, it was pinch me it’s not real clear!
Walk into a crab restaurant and look at the crabs in the tank. Choose something to eat and you get a detailed picture of what it is. The beauty here is in the detail of everywhere you go. The city feels alive.
Lighting plays a big part as throughout the game you will walk around two city centres at different times of the day and each time you do the lighting, rendering and details you can pick out change with the time of day.
Having recently finished Yakuza 0 and being frustrated with the combat for Kiyru, I was keen to try my hand at the combat here in Yakuza Kiwami 2. I’m pleased to say it’s much improved. Combat mainly consists of a batman style beat em up punch and kick, but with a lot of funny finishing moves when you have built a heat gauge up. For example, depending on which weapon you may be using you’ll get different finishers, all of them over the top, and humorous. The are also, depending on your environment, environmental finishers. If you are near a bridge edge for example, you can throw enemies into the river.
What i was mainly pleased about the combat though because it was tight, responsive, varied, exciting, and fair. You can easily lock on to single opponents, or deal with crowds of people with various punches, kicks and other special moves, or with the use of weapons such as swords, daggers, or golf clubs! So much so, i played Yakuza 0 on easy, whereas because i can express myself much better here, i’m playing Yakuza Kiwami 2 on normal. The punches and kicks felt meaty and powerful, and as you land them you build up the heat gauge for finishers. If you get hit though the heat gauge diminishes, so the game rewards you for not just button mashing, but being more strategic and constructive with your encounters. Button mashing in short leaves you open so you don’t get the glorious stylish finishers as often.
So the structure of the game basically has you going from one place to another to either find something or someone, have a fight, move on. In between fights you stock up on health items, weapons or player upgrades, to make the next encounter a bit easier with new moves. The trouble ( in a good way ) i find is that it’s so easy to get distracted by yakuza’s bright lights of ALL the other things you can do, so it’s hard to stay on track! Some of the mini games like running a cabaret club, and creating a clan are pretty much whole games in themselves, let alone the other games you can learn to be masters at. I have spent at least an hour or two playing darts alone!
The audio is excellent, with different types of music for different occasions, and newances in how you walk around town. For example walking on wooden planks sounds different to concrete. Plus with so clinking of ice in whisky shot glasses during the cut scenes, prepared to get thirsty too!
If I can find a gripe, and it’s a small gripe, it’s that although there are plenty of mini games, they do seem to be dumbed down versions of them. Poker is played in sets of four hands, darts you don’t have to finish on doubles or differentiate between 25/50, batting in baseball is very simple. As gripes go though that’s it as the rest is just pure quality.
Stunning, gripping, yet at times bat shit crazy humorous story with outstanding voice acting. Interesting narrative, outstanding gameplay, huge variety, excellent graphics, great audio, what’s not to like ? Why aren’t more people putting the Yakuza game series at the forefront of best games of this generation? They certainly need to be in the conversation and Yakuza Kiwami 2 is just another reason why. Outstanding quality game.