Review by Zeltica
"Bring that ****!"
From the immediate start the first thought that comes to mind is that this is (for lack of a better description) a Japanese Grand Theft Auto, or Japan's version of the Godfather. While there are some definite noticeable similarities between Yakuza, Grand Theft Auto, and The Godfather this game tends to lead off in a different direction putting it in a whole different class, while essentially remaining in the same species. Yakuza is one of the few games I've played in these some odd months due to boredom and perhaps a maturity away from video games altogether. What I found here wasn't a game of epic proportion, or a uniquely rare gem, but I did find my money well spent and that's what I constantly strive to achieve.
Maybe I watched too many martial arts movies in my childhood, or maybe my love for everything Japan transcends even supernatural explanation, but I swear Yakuza's setting drives me wild. Being a resident bad ass roaming the streets of Japan is a much cooler concept than being a gangster or a thug in California, or any other devious role you can come up with. It's likely just cloudy judgment and bias though. As the player you get to control Kazuma, a yakuza who is cocky enough to say he'll kick your ass, your friend's ass, his friend's ass, and every other person they want to bring along for the ride and actually do it. Fighting in this game (although fun) much to my dismay is done through a loaded up type of battle sequence, where Kazuma becomes trapped behind invisible and visible barriers in order to destroy his opponents with vicious punches and kicks. Add in a wide array of weapons (just about anything can be used) and various throws and finishing maneuvers and you have yourself a better combat system than its so called forefather games. Apart from the action portion of the game you will find numerous ways to spend your time doing such activities, as gambling, hooking up with the ladies, baby sitting (joke, sort of), drinking different types of alcohol, eating, shopping, playing arcade games, and even more. This creates a deep involving environment for those who wish for more than just the meat and potatoes that the main story provides.
Never disappointed, I found myself instantly hooked by the dramatic turn of events that unfolded with each chapter, further spinning a deeper web inside my brain, that left me with a feeling that I was sitting through a thoroughly enjoyable feature at the movies. I cared about what was going on, drooling proceeding the yearning, an unquenchable thirst for the characters and the knowledge pertaining to each of their roles. Kazuma on his way out of prison after a 10 year jail sentence, he tries to integrate back into the place he disappeared from only to uncover an extreme change has occurred both in Japan's visible culture and the underground world. Deaths and disappearances of major yakuza and the matter of 10 billion yen leaving the yakuza in a state of chaos. Corruption and deceit are in full flare and Kazuma must discover the truth of what's happened in his absence.
Graphics and Sound
The most detailed and well designed part of the game is its scenery. The city is full of bright neon lights, different types of buildings and businesses, and plenty of other miscellanea. From trash to bicycles, dogs to street signs, everything is here, and most of that stuff is useable as a weapon. Everything looks gorgeous, except for the actual characters. I must say the characters are rather bland, the NPCs are repetitive (with exception), and pail in comparison to the brilliance of the city itself. As for the audio portion of the game it's easily one of the best. The music during fight scenes is adrenaline pumping and fun to listen to. Voice acting enlists some notable people such as Rachel Leigh Cook (Actress who also voices Tifa in Kingdom Hearts 2 and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) and is quite enjoyable. You won't find any annoying mute the TV characters here.
I took on this game in around 20 hours doing as many side missions as I could, but I didn't get all of them. I imagine if I had just played the actual story line of the game I could've finished it in under 15 hours or over 25 hours if I had decided to do all side quests. Replaying the game is still fun, but I wish there had been more, I was satisfied yet still hungry.
Rent or buy? I'd suggest renting first to see if you can get into the game, not to mention that it's easily beatable in the rental time span. However if you enjoy it and still wish to continue playing the game, then buying it is for you. One of the most notable things about the game that I enjoy is the ability to watch all the cut scenes back to back like a movie. Overall a decent game, but there are better.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/26/07
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