By Steve Baltimore / October 1st, 2018
|Title||Yakuza Kiwami 2|
|Release Date||August 28th, 2018|
I recently played Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. This was my first dive into the series and while I regretted having to start at the end, I totally fell in love with the game. I couldn’t wait to go back and try other entries in the series. I still haven’t had time to check out Yakuza 0 or the first Kiwami game, but a chance to review Yakuza Kiwami 2 came along and I decided to jump on it. Did this remake further my love for the series? Let’s find out!
Kiryu thought his days of being in the Tojo Clan were behind him. The peaceful days have allowed him to build a life for him and Haruka, but all this will soon change. Yukio Terada, the fifth chairman of the Tojo Clan, has been assassinated. War with the Omi Alliance is on the horizon, so Kiryu travels to Kansai in order to preserve the peace. Things do not go as planned however when he meets the Dragon of Kansai, Ryuji Goda. He wants to destroy the Tojo Clan and Kiryu to become the one true dragon. The looming battle will not only affect those in the present, but will uncover mysteries 20 years in the making.
The story is fantastic. There are so many plot twists and turns that it should make your head spin, but it doesn’t. This is because the writing is so well crafted. All of the characters here are enjoyable, you immediately get sucked into this world and actually care about what happens to these people. On top of all the greatness of the main story, there is a whole new side story with our favorite crazy yakuza, Majima. This story may only last a few hours, but it still has all the care and attention to detail like the main story. I was honestly really impressed at how good it was given that it was just a bonus add-on to a story that was already amazing.
This remake of Yakuza 2 is done entirely in the new Dragon Engine and the quality shows. The character models are all nicely detailed and city environments have never looked better. The animation during the fight scenes is great. Pulling off Heat Moves and seeing your foes’ faces being mashed in and contorted with pain is just satisfying. Some of the Heat Moves that use weapons are especially great. I mean, who doesn’t wanna see a guy get his face beat in with a slow cooker? The game runs at a great frame rate all the time and I noticed very little screen tearing.
I think this game may have one of my favorite soundtrack’s of all time. Not only are all the tracks in the karaoke mini game amazing, the overall presentation of music in the game is outstanding. These tracks have all been remixed from the original Yakuza 2 and I think they are even better than those in the original game. “A Scattered Moment” may be my favorite boss theme of all time. This fight had no malice, no hate, it was just for honor and a way of life. This song really brought this out and made an outstanding boss fight even better. The voice acting crew did an amazing job as always. All the emotion comes through perfectly and there are some really goofy scenes as well and I don’t know how they kept from dying laughing while recording them.
The gameplay here is much like what you find in other games in the series. It’s open world and you can wander around doing side missions or main quests at your leisure. There is a ton of stuff to take in here as well. The classic activities such as golfing range, darts, karaoke, shogi, tons of card games and more are all back. You can even hit up an arcade for some UFO catching fun or to play some Virtual On or Virtua Fighter 2. Though I think the most insane mini games are the bathroom ones. I laughed till I almost cried as Kiyru peed in a toilet to blow off a girl’s clothes. They really have these in Japan and one day I’d love to see just how this works! There are tons of things I didn’t mention here to see and do in the game because if I listed everything off this would be a very long review.
I think what makes this game really shine above a lot of other open world games is the side missions are just as interesting as the main story. If you’ve played other entries in the series, you will run into some recurring characters and it’s always nice to see how a familiar face is doing. There are also some pretty outlandish ones like Kiryu getting rooked into recording voice lines for a BL visual novel. I kept choosing the wrong thing on purpose which made this even funnier. There is even a quest the pokes fun at The Ring. These quests, along with the main quests, make one amazing world for you to experience here and I had a great time enjoying every minute in it.
There are actually more moves found in combat here as opposed to Yakuza 6. It’s not really more complicated, but there are a lot more Heat Moves. There are not only a ton of counters you can learn, but also the ability to use new weapons. You can even get some help from the locals you’ve helped out along the way. You learn some of these moves through side missions and others through watching video tapes. I bet you thought Kiyru would only find porn tapes!
The other big change in combat here is you can hold up to 3 weapons for use in combat. Each one can only be used a certain amount of times, but you can always trade it out in the menu once it’s used up. This made combat much more interesting as some of these weapons are just odd. I’m talking things like stun guns, cursed swords and even a pair of pliers. All I’m gonna say is Kiryu would be a poor dentist. I thought this added a lot to the combat here and I can see now why some were hard on Yakuza 6 for having simpler combat.
The way you gain exp and learn new moves hasn’t changed here. You earn EXP through doing things like completing missions, eating food, combat and more. Once you’ve gained enough in each category, you can purchase the move or upgrade. This never felt grindy at all since the activities in this game are a ton of fun to do, which is always a good thing when you have an RPG type system like this.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a pure joy on every level. This game excels in every area that I feel like Western gaming completely fails. It balances amazing gameplay and storytelling seamlessly. This is why it’s so damn good. If you’ve never played a Yakuza game before, you can jump right in at this one with no problem. There is a huge optional story recap at the front of the game that will catch you up to speed. I spent about 30 hours with this one and there is still a ton of stuff to see and do. The bonus content here is crazy, from the Majima side story to the ability to play the 2-player arcade games straight from the main menus. That’s right folks, you and a friend can play Virtual On or Virtua Fighter 2 right from the main menu. This game is worth every penny of the $49.99 price tag and I would recommend this to anyone that loves a good story or open world games. If I could give this bad boy 6 out of 5 stars, I would!
Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Open worldSegaYakuzaYakuza Kiwami 2