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Yakuza Kiwami

Posted by GG Goblin On September - 21 - 2017

Back to the beginning.

 
Following on from this year’s release of Yakuza 0, a prequel to the entire Yakuza series, we now have a remake of the original game, the game that started it all off. Yakuza Kiwami is no simple reskin of the original game however, successfully bring the game up to date with the more recent series entries, while also filling long time Yakuza players in with Kazuma Kiryu’s first outing in the videogame world.

 
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The first Yakuza game was released way back in 2005 on the PS2, and a lot has changed since then. It is important to know that Yakuza Kiwami is no retro gaming session, despite the age of the original it is based on. The developers have done a great job of bringing the game up to date, making it at least as good looking as the recently released Yakuza 0, and the gameplay has been perked up to match. There are even additional distractions added that the player can indulge in during their downtime, and the story has been filled out to line up with the prequel. Yakuza Kiwami is no old-school curiosity, but a valid entry in the modern Yakuza series.

 
The story follows Kazuma Kiryu, an incredibly moral gangster. Kazuma has just been released from prison after spending ten years incarcerated for a murder that he didn’t commit, a murder that was actually committed by his best friend. Now, he returns to a world he doesn’t really recognize, and a life that he no longer wants. If that sounds pretty dramatic, that’s because it is. The story in Yakuza Kiwami is pretty twisty and turny, and is easily one of the best in the series. There is a lot going on in the story, and the characters are very well realized, allowing the player to really invest in what is going on. Additional scenes are included over the original version of teh game, making it even easier for players to enjoy these great characters and their tumultuous story.

 
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The original game had an English dub which, while enjoyable and well done featuring big name actors, really felt out of place in a game that tries to show an authentic depiction of life in Japan. This has been dropped for Yakuza Kiwami, replaced with brand new Japanese voice recordings and English subtitles. This really is how the game should be, and it works perfectly, adding one more layer of authenticity.

 
Following on with the authenticity, the game is set in the fictional Tokyo district of Kamurocho. This open-world environment may be quite small compared to many of the open-world settings we see in games today, but it is absolutely teeming with life and a character of its own. This small part of the city becomes the gamers playground for their time with Yakuza Kiwami, and while the player may only be moving from one place to the next for their objectives, there is just so much to see during this wandering. The city is incredibly detailed, and packed with people to give it life. It also looks incredible, sometimes just begging the player to stop and look around.

 
There is also plenty to do in the city between missions. As is customary with the Yakuza series, there are a whole bunch of different side distractions that the player can enjoy, some more silly than others. These distractions are what the series has become known for, and Yakuza Kiwami doesn’t disappoint, building upon the selection that was already available in the original game with a few new additions. From the hostess club to slot car racing, there is never a dull moment in Yakuza Kiwami.

 
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Yakuza Kiwami is essentially an open-world brawling game, and much like the rest of the game, the combat has been updated to feel more in-line with current games. Most importantly compared to the original, the targeting now works much better and allows the combat to flow far more smoothly. We are not talking Absolver levels of flow here, but it feels good to play. The player is able to engage four different fighting styles through the game, giving access to slow and powerful strikes, fast and light attacks, and even the classic “grab whatever is nearby and use it as a weapon” type moves. The player earns xp from combat, which can be used to unlock new moves to further expand the players arsenal of over-the-top attacks.

 
Which is handy, as players will find themselves getting into fights with an alarming regularity. There is obviously plenty of combat to be found following the core missions, but players will find themselves getting into scrapes simply walking along the street. In another new addition for this remake, “Majima Everywhere” has fan favorite insane Yakuza character Majima Goro popping up, often when the player least expects it, to challenge Kazuma in some kind of misguided attempt to help him become stronger. Despite the fact that Majima is a great character, and totally insane, it can become a little distracting to have him pop up and start a fight while the player is busy trying to do something else.

 
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Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of a game more than ten years old, and as such doesn’t quite have the depth of the more modern Yakuza entries. The game also suffers from feeling slightly less impressive than the recently released prequel game. That being said, the game has loads of content, looks great for a remake, and has one of the best stories in the series. Yakuza Kiwami is great fun and well worth the low price to Yakuza veterans and newcomers alike.

 

 ★★★★★★★★½☆ 



 

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