Originally released as simply Yakuza on the PS2 in 2006, the series has continued over the course of Sony’s Play Station consoles including numerous sequels, a prequel and spin-offs totaling more than 15 games currently.
For anyone who’s been intrigued by the series never found the time to get around to giving it a go the series rebooted the origin entries in the form of Kiwami (“Extreme” for those who don’t speak Japanese).
It gives you more than a HD facelift.
Voice acting is present in cutscenes however only in the original Japanese so I could not tell you to what quality although suffice to say it does not grate.
+ The game has been recreated from scratch and is generally where you’d expect a current gen game to be.
+ It goes for a realistic aesthetic rather than anything arty and succeeds in realising its vision
+ There’s not so much gore but there is a blunt brutality to the violence, not holding back from gunshots and curb-stomping in a comic book fashion.
+ It's filled with characters and locations that aren’t simple pallet swaps of one another and it all moves along impressively...
- ...save for a few of the scenes involving vehicles which are decidedly wooden
- Day and night seem to shift pretty randomly to suit the plot!
The game has you running over all the streets and alleyways of Kamurocho (faux-kyo) completing missions, sidequests and minigames. The action comes in the form of scripted moments and random encounters. It’s a brawler at heart and fights occur in an RPG fashion being triggered by either cutscene or contact on the street.
+ Solid brawler mechanics
+ A growing moves list based over 4 styles which you can change on the fly and cover the usual styles – Fast and Weak, Balanced, Slow and Strong and “Special”(ohh..).
+ Accumulated EXP during battles starts with a level up here or there but in the latter parts of the game it’s not uncommon to earn 300 level-ups from a single boss fight.
+ Mini games are EVERYWHERE, you don't even need to come across them all in the main plot.
- For all its depth you’ll rarely stray from using the standard Brawler fighting style to solve any problems.
- Prepare to solve the generous amount of side missions by either - Fighting, fetching or trading...
- Those mini games I mentioned? some are crap.
There’s nice attention to detail throughout. When it rains people dress for the weather and the umbrellas come out and the NPC’s which litter the landscape all genuinely appear to have their own stuff to do giving a great illusion of a living city for you to bump and shove your way through. Shame it’s so small.
+ The world feels very much lived in
+ The main points of the story will keep you interested but...
- ..The story is pretty padded out and includes a lot of missions which just involve you going back and forth between a handful of locations.
There is plenty to do in this small city
+ To 100% the side quests and max out all your skill trees (especially the Dragon of Dojima) will easily double your game time.
+ The world is littered with mini-games which you can choose to partake in as much or as little as you please. These vary from MesuKing - Battle Bug Beauties (Rock Paper Scissors with a twist and women in bikini’s dressed as bugs), Claw Game (Plushies!), Pub games (Pool, darts etc.) and even their take on scalextrics and more.
+ Once you feel you’ve progressed enough you can also do it all again retaining your level-ups and items plus unlocking the ability to change outfits on the New Game + option.
- Which you'll need when it comes to having to defeat the (admittedly enigmatic) Majima some 70 times to max out your Dragon of the Dojima Style skills.
- A few too many Fetch Quests is putting it lightly
The solid fundamentals will keep you pushing through what at times can be a tedious quest. Imagine if you played an RPG and they expected you to exit every dungeon on foot by going back the way you came and you’ll get the idea. The world you’re thrust in to is dangerous but full of character and gets by giving you plenty to do to keep you occupied.