Yakuza Kiwami

Yakuza Kiwami

A game that may seem like a good starting point, but has a lot more to it.

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Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the PS2's original Yakuza game, which was released in the west all the way back in 2006. At its core, this remake is a very typical Yakuza game, and for this reason Kiwami is recommended for people who have previous experience playing these games, but this isn't necessarily the case.

Back in January the prequel Yakuza 0 was released, and it took 30 hours to play through, making us wonder: is it really necessary to have such a monumental prequel to create a setting for the original game's remake? It turns out it was necessary, as Yakuza Kiwami introduces the player to such a big and diverse cast of characters that even a series veteran would have a hard time keeping up with. Yakuza Kiwami is a character-focused, story-driven experience set in a world of Japanese organised crime, so we recommend that you play at least Yakuza 0 before starting Yakuza Kiwami.

It takes around 15 hours to finish Yakuza Kiwami, which is around half the length of other games in the series, and the story isn't told in a cohesive way like in other Yakuza games either. The protagonist is a Yakuza named Kazuma Kiryu, whose love for his childhood friend Yumi ended badly, and Kiryu's criminal career acts only as a framing story. A lion's share of the time you follow the events of different side characters, whose stories are in some way linked to Kiryu's, ranging from a corrupted policeman to an orphan child.

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This chosen method of delivering a story causes simplistic gameplay and forces you to watch a lot of cutscenes. For someone who has played Yakuza games, this isn't a surprise, but for others it means that they might see Yakuza Kiwami as a one-trick pony, and perhaps even boring. It doesn't help that in the first sections of the game the dialogue drags on for way too long as well, and emotions and decisions could've been delivered via much tighter dialogue.

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Yakuza games have always had three different ways to tell a story - first are the regular cutscenes; second is to read boxes of dialogue and listen to characters speak; and third is to just read dialogue boxes without any voice acting. The same thing can be seen in all other Yakuza games as well, and it's already high time to get rid of them, as there doesn't seem to be any logic or reason for using these three different methods instead of just cutscenes.

Yakuza Kiwami is mostly set in a fictional region of Tokyo called Kamurocho, and the map is small, packed with stuff, and almost identical to previous games. Environments are static, though, and there are invisible walls everywhere, which was a little frustrating. The actual gameplay consists mostly of running from one place to another, watching cutscenes, and fighting... lots and lots of fighting.

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Combat makes up about 70% of the game, if you don't count watching cutscenes, and there are multiple fighting styles to choose from, and you can change them at any time during combat. RPG elements include opening new abilities from a special ability tree as you move on, and the combat itself is brutal, but has zero fluidity in it. Kicks and punches are delivered in a stiff fashion, so don't expect any Ninja Gaiden or Bayonetta action here. It's tolerable, especially if you have previous experience with Yakuza games, but not the most impressive display.

The most irritating thing about fighting is that occasionally boss characters just stand still and gain some of their lost health back, and there's little to no way of stopping this, which means that the fight goes on for a few minutes longer than it otherwise would have. In the end, the combat makes it clear that it's the story - not the fighting - that draws people to Yakuza games.

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There are also 78 mini stories to dig into as well. Actually, quite often you have to, because these small stories happen when you walk by, so in other words, you can't always choose whether or not do them like you would in any other open world game. Usually these stories are about short sections of other people's lives like catching thieves and helping someone in their love life, and the best one involves Goro Majima, who was a central character in Yakuza 0. He fights Kiryu quite often all around Kamurocho, and although his story doesn't have a good start, it gets better and in the end, it reaches a very satisfying conclusion.

On the technical side of things, Yakuza Kiwami is well made. We didn't notice any bugs, for instance, loading times are short, and in terms of detail, the town itself is stunning in that department, and colourful as well. Voice acting and cutscenes are all impressive too, as they form the bulk of the experience, and the spoken language is so clear that by the end you may have even learned a bit of Japanese yourself. It must also be said that aside from saving in those usual phone booths, the game can now be saved almost anywhere and at any time, which was greatly appreciated.

In the end Yakuza Kiwami is a Yakuza game: nothing more, and nothing less. It has those same strengths and weaknesses as the rest of the games in the series, and last generation's restrictions stick out like a sore thumb. Yakuza 6 comes out in the West in March 2018, so by then it's high time for the series to become a modern one in terms of gameplay, and not this old relic from the past.

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07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
Starts from the very beginning of the series, You can save anywhere and anytime, Goro Majima's story is great.
Gameplay is just like all the other Yakuza games, Static environments, Invisible walls, Occasional boring dialogue, Stiff combat
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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Yakuza KiwamiScore

Yakuza Kiwami

REVIEW. Written by Markus Hirsilä

"In the end Yakuza Kiwami is a Yakuza game: nothing more, and nothing less. It has those same strengths and weaknesses as the rest of the games in the series."

Yakuza Kiwami get its first Xbox One trailer

Yakuza Kiwami get its first Xbox One trailer

NEWS. Written by Jonas Mäki

Last year, Microsoft and Sega announced that the Yakuza series would debut for the Xbox One this year after previously being available only on PlayStation consoles. And...

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