Forum Overview :: Reviews
Yakuza (PS2) by Last 03/21/2007, 12:53pm PDT
This game is a lot like Shenmue (from what I remember about Shenmue) except you play a high ranking member of Japanese organized crime. Also there is less than but still non-zero pet befriending and pet maintenance in this game than there was in Shenmue.

STORY: You play a hard-assed superhumanly strong Japanese mobster that takes the fall for a certain crime committed by your buddy during the flashback tutorial stage. There is one mission summarizing your entire 10-year prison stint and then the rest of the game takes place after you are released from prison to go about your mobsterly business. Your actions are restricted to a single neighborhood in Tokyo, but that's fine because it is a pretty large neighborhood like the size of Las Venturas in GTA:SA. You will have the opportunity to explore every detail because your character is on foot the entire time. Also, the city looks SO MUCH BETTER than Las Venturas or San Fierro because a lot more detail is crammed into the same acreage.

GAMEPLAY: I had assumed that Yakuza would be a GTA clone but that's not really true since there are no vehicles, barely any guns, smaller world map and more immersive atmosphere. The game is linear and mission based, which I don't mind since it makes the story more cohesive. If you don't want to do race through the storyline then there are plenty of small side missions (like finding hidden objects or catching purse snatchers) and other distractions like casinos, 'hostess bars' that play like dating sims, and batting cages. All of the combat is chop-socky. You can get melee weapons and stuff which are useful but only have d6+1 uses before they disintegrate.

* The setting and environment in this game is GREAT. You really feel like a Yakuza running around a living, breathing neighborhood of Tokyo. There are countless unique touches in the background that reinforce the sense that you are in a real, living place. This sense of immersion was a huge plus for me.

* Your character always says the right thing during cut scenes! I'm sure you are familiar with other games where you run around kicking 100% ass whenever you have control of the character but then a scripted cutscene will have you get knocked out by a flowerpot or suck up to the boss or otherwise make your character look like a complete bitch. Yakuza fixes that by having your character act completely correctly awesome at every point in the game, cutscene or no. It's a relief to see a cutscene coming up and to be able to trust that the scriptwriter won't wreck all the hard work you put into making your character badass.

* The fights are easy enough at the beginning that you look and feel bad-assed, but difficult enough later on that you need to incorporate some defense or you'll get slaughtered.

* You gain experience from missions and fights that you can use to level up your HP or purchase new combat moves. This helps keep the combat fresh as the game goes on and also gives the sense that you are making progress or building towards something. If you like this game mechanic in other games then you will also like it in Yakuza.

* Drinking booze makes you easier to enrage.

* The bars sell real-life brands of whiskey and provide little histories behind each brand.

* You get plenty of walking around money, which is nice when you want to go visit euphemistic "hostess clubs" or just regular seedy bars. You can throw around a bunch of dough in front of a hoo-ah and act like a flashy Yakuza without secretly worrying about whether or not you can afford your next meal. At the same time, the game doesn't give you TOO MUCH money, so much that you begin to wonder why your character is hustling around doing stupid errands instead of just retiring to Jamaica.

* There is a helpful dictionary in the pause menu that explains all of the different clans and characters that you have met so far. The game does not waste a bunch of time making sure that you are paying attention to the story, so the dictionary helps when you overlook something.

* I was drank too much during one game session and missed out on part of the plot. The next time I loaded my save game I saw that I had apparently purchased a robot girl named Haruka. It has plastic skin, unblinking eyes, and personality simulator that is supposed to act like a human but fails. The game devs really ramp up the creepiness of the mechani-girl by giving it a 2-year-old's voice (yuk), a 4-year-old's brain (eww), and an 8-year-olds body (gross). The end result is a continuous reminder that Haruka is an unnatural, unfeeling object and serves to highlight by contrast the other warm, feeling, thinking human characters that you meet. I don't really know why the devs stuck this robot thing in the game since everything else in it is pretty realistic. Maybe little girl robots (like Roll from Megaman) carry a special cultural connotation in Japan? All I can figure out is that I must have purchased the Haruka-bot because I knew it would look hilarious and ridiculous for my tough no-nonsense streetwise Yakuza to team up with a battery-operated schoolgirl. (Like purchasing 'big head mode' in NBA Live). The problem is that once you pick her up (or find it in a junkyard, or repair her, or put batteries into it or whatever happened) you can't get rid of it. I tried selling her to all the shopkeeps in town but couldn't find the one that I got her from. I also tried to drop it from my inventory, but nothing worked. So, now I have this plastic-fleshed simulation following my guy around and squeaking constantly. It really takes away from the immersive game experience that had been so carefully built up beforehand. Also there are too many side missions that you have to do for it. Haruka is always whining about her 'mother' or 'aunt', but then confuses things by talking about how she's an orphan, and sometimes warbles about feelings or begs me to buy her toys and crap, and sometimes tries to play cute which really just comes across as disturbing and wrong. So I can't figure that out. If I'd have known that this crappy joke character would turn out to be so time consuming I would have just skipped her entirely and focused instead on the main story. Conclusion - Haruka is worse than Cait Sith and for the same reasons.

* No replay value. Once you beat it it's done.

* If you miss a combo while fighting then your recovery time is terrible. Miss two punches and all the bad guys will circle around behind you and crush in your skull with a bicycle. It would have been more fun if you were a little more nimble. However, this point is mostly nullified once you learn how to target and strafe enemies.

Summary: Positive!!
The only bad part of the game is putting up with Haruka's shit. If it had more replay value then it would be a 'must buy', but instead it is 'must rent'.
Yakuza (PS2) by Last 03/21/2007, 12:53pm PDT NEW
    The game pissed me off just for the shit talking people did about Godhand. by Worm 03/21/2007, 1:45pm PDT NEW
        P.S. This review needs the clip of the main character slapping Haruka. NT by Worm 03/23/2007, 9:04am PDT NEW
    Re: Yakuza (PS2) by Last 04/18/2007, 1:23pm PDT NEW
        Re: Yakuza (PS2) by Mischief Maker 04/18/2007, 2:55pm PDT NEW
            Re: Yakuza (PS2) by Jhoh Cable o_O 04/19/2007, 3:00am PDT NEW
    I think you should turn this into a full review. NT by Jerry Whorebach 04/18/2007, 1:42pm PDT NEW
        I guess I COULD beef up the review by belaboring that 'joke' about robot Haruka NT by a little more. - Last 04/18/2007, 2:42pm PDT NEW
powered by pointy