Do it for the orphans!
After what seems like an eternity of waiting, Sega have finally released Yakuza 3 in the west, albeit slightly quietly. When I say quietly I mean from a marketing point of view. For the fans that have been waiting, this game has caused a flurry of controversy and screaming for Sega’s blood. But more on that later. For now, bathe in the glory that is Yakuza 3 on PS3.
Kazuma Kiryu, star of the first two Yakuza games, really does have a rough time. Finally having left the Japanese mafia, all Kazuma wants to do is kick back and get down to the business of running an orphanage. I know, it seems like a strange lifestyle choice, but who are we to come between a man and his aspirations. However, paradise never runs smoothly, and before long Kazuma is dragged back into the seedy Japanese underworld as greedy politicians try to close his orphanage. Will they never learn?
The Yakuza series of games is very episodic in nature, with each game following on from the previous with recurring characters. New players should not fear that they have missed out though, as playing the game for a while will give enough information to happily continue on their way,and completists will be happy with the recap options, explaining all that has come before.
Yakuza 3 is a massive open world adventure that is set in modern day Japan. In this respect, the game has a lot in common with the hugely popular Shenmue game that was available on Sega’s own Dreamcast system. Following the games story, the huge number of subquests and playing around with all of the mini games, gives Yakuza 3 a real sense of being a living, breathing world.
Supplying all of the action in the game, is the fighting component. The player will come across adversaries throughout their story, along with the random encounters that occur in the street, and the only way to resolve these is through good, old fashioned fisticuffs. Like button mashing fighters of the past, players will find themselves slapping buttons to perform combos and dodging blows, from both individuals and groups of enemies. Players are also able to pick up and use objects as makeshift weapons, should they be so inclined.
Fighting also gives way to the RPG element of Yakuza 3. Players will earn experience and be able to level up, giving access to new moves and abilities. There are also a wide range of different weapons and accessories that can be equipped and used.
Whilst the game is now looking a bit dated, possibly in part due to the amount of time it has taken to come over here, there really is so much to do that the slightly lacking graphics do not really notice. There are a wide selection of mini games that can be found, from Karaoke, golf and cards, to a functioning Sega arcade. With in excess of 100 side quests, this game really offers value for money.
The controversy that surrounds the western release of Yakuza 3 is mostly down to Sega and their choice to cut certain parts from the original. Things such as the hostess bars and the Mah Jong mini game were dropped, allegedly, to make the game more accessible for western gamers. This caused an outcry from the fans, declaring that they wanted their game is full, not dumbed down. However, and this is just my take on things, unless you own the Japanese version and speak Japanese, you will not be missing anything. If you do own the Japanese version, why would you want the western version? The grass is always greener on the other side, and there is plenty in this game to keep players occupied. So stop whining and get on with enjoying.
Although the game is not perfect, some of the sub quests can become confusing, it has slightly dated graphics and a certain affinity towards Japanese culture is needed, Yakuza 3 comes pretty damn close. With a wonderful fighting component, an engrossing story, a deep RPG system and enough stuff to keep the player entertained for hours on end, Yakuza 3 is a game that should be played by anyone who owns a PS3.