Sega, Amusement Vision (studio)
28 September 2018 (released)
17 September 2018
The game carries on from where the first left off, albeit a year later; Turmoil has hit the Tojo clan, and Kiryu is reluctantly dragged back into the underworld as he tries to avoid the two biggest yakuza groups (Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance) going to war. From the off, the story is winding and multi-layered, with many characters having their own goals and intrigue that Kiryu must navigate his way through as he tries to protect those he cares about. It’s a well-written and captivating tale that has a long list of characters (as is the norm for Yakuza) and a great major antagonist in Ryuji Goda. From the moment he steps onto the stage, Kiryu knows that he’s not messing around. Every moment with him, he’s imposing and to all but Kiryu, he’s a monster. Even other characters who have a direct grudge with him are ignored by him; the one he’s after is the ‘Dragon of Dojima’. It makes for a great foil to Kiryu, while giving us a different enemy to face than Nishikiyama from the first game.
But drama and tension aren’t all the game has to offer. Yakuza has always been good at mixing up moments of seriousness with moments of sheer madness the next, both in its storytelling and its action. The game is rife with various sub-stories to break up the main tale, with some (but not all) being more comedic in nature. They are short, but are good for a little burst of entertainment to spice up your gameplay.
As per usual, the combat of Yakuza is the core experience, and it is amazing. With the new Dragon Engine that was introduced in Yakuza 6, the fights tend to flow much better, with only a few minor hiccups in the physics every now and again, such as the occasional opponent going skyward. There are also many extra abilities and moves for you to unlock, with some requiring you to have a look around the world in order to find them.
Then there are all of the various things to do around town at your leisure, whether it’s sitting down to gamble your hard-earned yen in a game of cards, or singing your heart out at a karaoke bar. You don’t need to look at the in-game completion list to know just how much there is to do with your time in this game, but with there being various rewards for playing the various hobbies and extra content, it’s more of a challenge to not try everything out at least once. Two major side-stories in particular are the Clan Creator and the Cabaret Club, which return from 6 and 0, respectively, and while they are perhaps even more ridiculous than anything else in the game, it still works in this crazy world that the game presents. Once you hear the men of Majima Construction sing their battle cry to you once, you’ll be sold.
As for looks, the game looks fantastic running in the aforementioned Dragon Engine, especially at night. Getting to see the glitz and glamour of Kamurocho and Sotenbori all lit up is something that has to be seen, and presents a world that feels truly alive. A slight drawback with the new engine is that, like in Yakuza 6, the game now runs at 30FPS instead of the usual 60. Hopefully however, when the time comes for the next Yakuza game, they will begin to move back towards the higher frame-rate, as they do the action so much more justice.
Overall, this is an excellent remake of a beloved entry in the Yakuza series, that brings it forward into the current generation and makes it ready for both veterans and newcomers to the series alike, provided you’ve at least played Yakuza Kiwami from last year. An easy recommendation? Absolutely.
+++ Standout story with great characters
++ Excellent combat
++ Gorgeous game
+ Mixes the crazy and serious almost perfectly
- 30FPS instead of 60FPS