Playing along, I kind of regretted not being able to play the predecessors of this game. The storyline is set a year after ex-yakuza Kazuma Kiryu left his life in Tojo Clan behind. Upon meeting the fifth Chairman, Yukio Terada, he was murdered by a rival clan called the Omi Alliance that was orchestrated by the Dragon of Kansai, Ryuji Goda, and left them in a vulnerable state. With Terada’s last dying to wish to unite Omi and Tojo – Kiryu now sets off to Kamurocho to find a new Chairman and to prevent an all-out-war of the two clans.
Reviewed: Playstation 4
Platforms: Playstation 4
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Review code provided by Rookie Hero Games
As SEGA’s new franchise and my first, I feel like I am missing a lot of important characters as the story unfolds and brings back who I think are the former significant characters of the franchise. Although the story does give a fair amount of history recap and introduction, I still feel left out and albeit player experience could definitely improve if I have just played its predecessors. However, there are actually a lot of stuff to do in this game. But for old time players this is absolutely a lovely trip down to memory lane where cutscenes beautifully represents each character and how lifelike their expressions are – although Kiryu only gives one all throughout the game, a scowling face.
Playing as Yakuza’s protagonist, Kiryu, in a third person view strolling through a virtual Japan. Players get to take in the beauty of modern day Japan. I haven’t been there, so this is the next best thing. Gameplay also features an open world environment so players can come and go to Sotenbori or Kamurocho with ease. There are also tons to do in either places, whether a side story helping out a grandmother look for her amulet to posing for a cameraman as a model complete with posing variations that Kiryu will do with that scowling face of his! Players can also have fun using the UFO machines, arcades that features a Street Fighter-ish game and err, a urinal gaming system and No, you will not be able to see his birdie. This world is literally littered with lively diversion that is intricately woven throughout that made me progress the storyline slower since I was having so much fun completing side missions. Aside from the amusement in going through the side missions, they also offer advantages to Kiryu in the long run.
I find the combat mode in this game rather interesting since items in the streets are usable, literally grabbing a bicycle, traffic cone and a plant can be used to hurt your enemies. You can even grab one and hurl it towards huddled enemies, fulfilling the cliche – hitting two birds with one stone. Going back to completed side missions, sometimes these strangers are so delighted that you helped them out they will give you the assistance you need once you are in battle next to them. They hand you various items that can be used such as a guitar, a Leek or even a plunger! Every serious moment this game has to offer, I swear there is a mediocre scene somewhere tucked in ready to be exploited.
Looking at the trailer, I noticed that there were a lot of street brawl that Kiryu is involved with which I thought was not an important thing in the gameplay but actually doing street fights is essential to the success of Kiryu’s character. These actions give him points that can increase his overall health, defense, attack and heat range. This also helps improve his skills such as learning different attacks, evade enemies and counterattack various weapons. Ordering and consuming food also helps in acquiring points and so thus helping locals in those side missions. Life skills can also be bought that helps Kiryu’s digestion and hunger levels. The more Kiryu eats, the more points gained and the fuller he is, the more he can sustain street fights and again more points earned. Rinse and repeat those steps and you can gain not only experience points but in-game currency to purchase weapons, armor and food in the Supermarket that helps gain health when you are in the middle of a battle. The Supermarket also offers items that will help you earn more experience points or increase your heat meter more.
For first time Yakuza players, heat meter is the blue bar below the health meter. During fights, this bar increases and once it reaches the maximum level Kiryu can perform a special move that can decapitate an enemy. This move makes it extra special when you are carrying an item. Pick up a bicycle and it will be thrown hard unto the enemy’s face or a cone that is smashed endlessly to their head or a bamboo stick that will be plunged towards their behind. Every item has its own unique technique and it really pays off when you get to experiment. Sadly though, these fights get so cumbersome at times. Enemies will run and swarm towards to you and normal melee attacks are not enough to put some distance from the enemy. Evading will be difficult too if there is a thug behind you and due to the tight space and difficult camera angles, it is quite a challenge defending yourself from these attacks. To successfully block these incoming attacks, he must be face to face with that thug and performing a timely block can result to a counterattack. If only controlling him at this moment is easy, usually I don’t let it reach to a point where I get surrounded since this is an obvious disadvantage. So I tend to make sure that I have an open space to move around and evade. But this will again be a challenge if you have to fight in a room or in a building full of enemies which eventually happens in one of your missions. Just make sure you are loaded with consumable items to help restore that needed health!
I love Japanese animation and even if Yakuza Kiwami 2 is far from being an anime, how the character sounds and how a character is being portrayed stayed true with their culture. Voice acting is really well done giving Kiryu that deep manly voice while the Cabaret girls are given high pitched ones which are perfect for their roles since their responsibility involves in taking care of their guests. I do not mind subtitles running at the bottom of the screen every time characters talk but I find the typewriting sounds quite annoying and disabling them just fixes that. What I find bothersome is there are a lot of loading screens in between cut scenes, going in and out of an elevator and especially when you consume food in a restaurant. Yes, a skip button is there but it doesn’t really skip all of the parts. Roaming Sotenbori and Kamurocho streets, you get to see thugs already huddled and locals and Kiryu gets to fix that but passing through the same street, the same set of thugs and locals are present again. I don’t mind this being repeated since it will give me easy points but I’d rather like it if the local could hand me something different each time I get to save them.
I gave it such a score because practically anyone can play this game; a Yakuza fan will truly rejoice with such an enhanced and refined gameplay while those who just started, just like myself, this is a great starting point that doesn’t really leave us with a lot of questions about the storyline. This game is packed with interesting convincing characters, tons of major activities and a solid storyline that give players a lot of surprises as it does its heartwarming moments. It’s a crazy over the top role playing game with minimal flaws and the animation is just stunning with photorealistic authentic looking environment. I’m really in awe how amazing this game is and the longer I play the more this game grows on me so better grab that copy now!