Yakuza Kiwami Review
- Publisher: Deep Silver/SEGA
- Genre: Action beat em up
- Release Date:29/8/17
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PS3 in Japan
- Game Supplied by: SEGA
SEGA have taken the Yakuza series back to it’s roots with a stunning HD remaster of the original and first ever 2006 PS2, Yakuza game.
The first thing that strikes you when playing Yakuza Kiwami, is how deep the game wants to get you involved in the story line, as the cut scenes are frequent and also very long. Personally I love a good yarn so this was welcome for me, a newbie to the series, to get to know the characters of the game and indeed series from the very start.
The plot is a little melodramatic, but frankly of such a high standard, being well acted, shot, and interesting, it’s almost worth the price of the game alone just to watch the story unfold. You do need to keep your wits about you though as the plot line chops and changes time lines far too often, to make the story experience a smooth affair.
Add to this, the side missions, pad the storyline out a lot more, over the games 30 hour completion time, well short of the normal 70 hour mark of the other Yakuza games.
The HD remaster is simply stunning and one of the best i’ve witnessed. It’s not just the stunning, up close, facial textures and animations that are superb, but when you start to explore the vibrant streets of Kamurocho, it’s hard not think your on a video tour of Japan for real. Artwork design of the streets, the litter on the streets, the lighting, the detail in the world is amazing. I particularly admired the neon lights being reflected in the puddles that moved when I walked through them. It adds so much depth to the game that getting from one objective to another, was like a tourist trip of a Japanese city than an in game chore. I spent so much time just looking at my surroundings as I went, more than many other games I’ve played.
The main premise of the game though apart from it’s story, is the combat. Kiryu is blessed with 4 styles of fighting to choose from, each with it’s own advantages and drawbacks.
Brawler – a balanced all rounder
Beast – slow movement but heavy damage
Rush – quick but weak
Dragon – Kiryu’s traditional style that only works after landing punches.
Each style was a tad awkward to change to mid fight, as you have to stop mid flight, while still exposed to punches to change, so I tended to stick with one style per fight. What was pleasing though was each style was really fun to play with, so i changed often, as for example the Rush style is not just a little, but MUCH faster than the others, and the damage, for beast mode MUCH heavier. It did give a real tactical headache per fight sequence which added to the game’s depth. It wasn’t that easy to just stick with one style and hope you’ll makes it through. The difficulty level is balanced very well for this.
The fights mainly consisted of many low level grunts in groups or a few grunts and a semi hard boss, to sometimes are hard boss fight.
As well as punches and kicks, you also have the ability to pick up objects to smash them into enemies. I also found that button mashing didn’t really help, as if you whiff with an attack, it leaves you open to be countered, quite hard at times too. Build up your normal punches and you can fill a gauge to unleash finishing moves as well.
So as you clean up the streets, follow the story, fighting gangs and bosses along the way, there is a superb audio to follow you too. Fighting sounds were exciting, powerful, yet walking around town, the world is brought to life with chatter, splashes of puddles, and general noise to make it feel vibrant and alive.
As you progress you can and indeed have to upgrade your abilities, as well as buy things to help do so, like health items and food, from vendors or shops around the town. Customization is a little limited, but it was fun exploring the city looking for a good meal!
Finally, there are also some mini games, within the story and from the main menu too. Couch co-op games like Pool, darts, and bowling are actually really good experiences and put other games who have these to shame. Other in game mini games are gambling, card games, or good old karaoke!
Lastly, Kiryu’s nemis or friend ( I can’t quite work out which ) “Goro Majima” , will randomly pop up during the game to challenge Kiryu to a fight in a section called “Majima Everywhere”. These are like in game mini boss battles, are not easy, but worthwhile as they really help in ranking up your character.
It’s fun, it has a great, if confusing changing time line story. It’s not too long at 30 hours, and looks and sounds utterly superb. This is a great game on any level, and has really got me interested in the yakuza series as a whole. I’m not sure existing yakuza fans will get as much out of this as I did, as much of this game is the same but on a smaller scale than the recent Yakuza 0, and Yakuza 5 before. Even so, if you hanker for a bit of Japanese gangster gameplay, with a gangster TV series quality plot line, this game has you covered.