Review by Truck_1_0_1_

Reviewed: 05/06/13 | Updated: 12/03/13

A Step Back, Though Not a Major One

As I finished the masterpiece that was Yakuza 3, I was eagerly anticipating placing Yakuza 4 in the PS3, as I was super excited to continue to incredible saga of Kiryu Kazuma. Lo and behold however, I discovered that there were now three other playable characters, each different from the last. This excited and intrigued me, while at the same time, depressing me slightly; did this mean less Kiryu, the character we all knew and loved from day one? Would the other characters be poor characters in both story and game play? Thankfully, gamers should not be disappointed, however if you were expecting an all-out Kiryu fest, you will be let down a tiny bit. Not to worry though, as the other characters add a lot to the story and are more than adequate to play as, as game play will not doubt tell you.

Game play: 10/10

Additions, additions and more additions is what Yakuza 4 has, however none hinder the game and actually make it a bit easier, even though the game play was basically perfect in Yakuza 3. While events take place in Okinawa, a jail and Kamurocho, aside from one action sequence, the game is played in only Kamurocho and the jail. While the jail is nothing but a bare-bones area, Kamurocho has been expanded and added to, with rooftop access complete with catwalks and ledges, in addition to new underground areas and a parking garage, located under Millennium Tower/Theater and between Tenkaichi and Pink streets. Levelling up is also slightly different now, with the ability to add new moves and abilities, as opposed to mere points that would unlock abilities. With all of these new additions comes three new, playable characters as well; Shun Akiyama (the cool, fan-favourite, friendly everyday Loan Shark that loves to kick and kick some more), Masayoshi Tanimura (my least favourite of all the main characters in the series; a scrawny, streetwise, partially dirty cop that can speak every Southeast Asian language known to man, while countering every punch or kick thrown at him) and Taiga Saejima (clearly my favourite and arguably the fans most favourite new member of the series; a stoic, calm, man-bear who is super tall, built like a house and stronger than an elephant {it seems}, who has a shady past that is brought to light during the game). Each character has their own unique fighting style and moves that are rather different to Kiryu's moves and fighting style. As well, each can only use certain parts of Kamurocho; Tanimura in Little Asia (or whatever its called) and Saejima on rooftops. All in all, the game plays brilliantly and even if it is slightly worse than Yakuza 3, its hard to see. The story on the other hand, could have used some work.

Story: 7/10

Shun Akiyama is the owner of Sky Finance, a Loan Sharking company with a twist; he does not charge interest or need collateral, merely he makes his prospective clients take tests before he lends them their cash. One day he is walking down Shichufuku street when he catches a glimpse of a friend of his, Kido. When he catches up, he talks to Kido and Kido's boss, Arai, a lieutenant in the Tojo Clan. When Arai must meet with Ueno Seiwa members at one of the hostess bars, things go awry and Akiyama is caught in the middle; will he save Arai or will he turn him in? Taiga Saejima is an inmate who was convicted of mass murder twenty-five years ago and he is awaiting his death sentence in a Tokyo prison. One day he is transferred to Okinawa Penitentiary 2, where he meets up with the "Porn star wannabe" from Yakuza 3, Goh Hamazaki. After carefully planning and scheming, they break out of the prison, while Saejima washes on the shore of Sunshine Orphanage. Will he reveal his true identity to Kiryu and Haruka or will he lie to save his own skin? Masayoshi Tanimura is a young cop who is always getting into trouble and misbehaving, until one day he discovers a connection to the murder of his father and the Ueno Seiwa hit twenty-five years ago, he tries to reopen and investigate the case. Will he fail and perish himself or will he succeed and get to the bottom of the shadiness? Lastly, Kiryu Kazuma is enjoying his life running the orphanage with Haruka, until Hamazaki washes up on shore. After a massive secret is exposed, Kiryu must do what he can to restore the honor of the Tojo Clan and expose the secret carefully. Should he trust Hamazaki or should he continue his humble life? These questions are all answered in-game and the plot comes to light in fine fashion. Sadly, the problem is that the game's story suffers from some ridiculousness, as well as the fact that Tanimura basically emerges as the central character, when he sure as hell should not be. Hindsight may be 20/20, however it is kind of clear in-game (particularly at the end) that Saejima is the new Tojo bigwig; the new Kiryu, and that Tanimura did not appear to be in the plans of the Yakuza canon past Yakuza 4. Yet the story line places him at a secondary (arguably, primary) position that is undeserving, not to mention Kiryu himself is basically an afterthought for the final hour or so in the game. Its unfortunate as the actual plot is fairly interesting and gripping; the characters placed in their positions merely are not suitable. Too many errors here that should not have been, though the same cannot be said of the graphics.

Graphics: 8/10

Basically, Yakuza 4 looks the same as Yakuza 3, if not a tad worse (filters and the like in terms of the objects on-screen; they simply do not mesh as well as the filters in Yakuza 3). The new additions to Kamurocho fit right in and look highly realistic, be it from a view from the top of a building to looking down the other end of the underground, it has a very realistic tone in terms of look and depth. The characters themselves look great and highly unique, each sporting their own color theme (Akiyama is red, Saejima is green, Tanimura is blue and Kiryu is silver, as we all know). The animation is brilliantly done as well, which I neglected to mention in my Yakuza 3 review; the characters mouth and body movements are completely natural and highly realistic, much more so than many games currently. Sadly, it misses a perfect score due to just not being a large jump from Yakuza 3; again, it arguably looks worse than the prequel. Sounds is another area where Yakuza 4 takes a step back.

Sounds: 9/10

Yet another phenomenal soundtrack, though it is not as phenomenal as Yakuza 3, which shone from beginning to end. It was in Yakuza 4 where Hidenori Shoji began to compose less and less of the soundtrack and it shows, as while there are many superb tunes, few are as hard-hitting and memorable as the tunes in Yakuza or Yakuza 3. However, he composed the theme track to the game, "For Faith," which, like with "Fly," from Yakuza 3, is one of the classic tunes in the Yakuza world. The smashes and crashes return, along with some yet again brilliant voice acting (another area where Tanimura is lacking however, as he sounds like a teen that is tired of his parents not comprehending his rebellion...) that is a staple in the Yakuza series. Everything is ship shape with sounds, the same can be said about replay.

Replay ability: 8/10

Another area where Yakuza 4 slips from its prequel is replay. There are forty less sub-missions, less game play (even though there are sixteen chapters, the cut-scenes have been seriously lengthened which cuts down on game time) and there are multiple points in the game where half of Kamurocho is inaccessible. As well, I was able to complete this in seven hours less time than Yakuza 3, which also is surprising. All of the cut content in Yakuza 3 returns however, which adds some replay value, as well as mastering each character's fighting style, which will eat up a fair amount of time. Still though, steps should have been taken to improve the replay value...

Buy or rent?

Buy it; its a long game, hard to find to rent and easy to find to purchase (albeit expensive).

I am not going to flat-out say that I was disappointed in Yakuza 4, because I simply was not disappointed; I merely felt that there were many issues with the game that not only could not have existed, but should not have existed, as these issues made certain events in the story and game play, simply feel tedious or unnecessary (how can Kiryu seriously be passed over in the story by a little ****head who will never return in a single game in this series? Its baffling). Still, the game is a solid title, worthy of your time and worthy of the name, "Yakuza." "Which one of you ***** just said "what's one more?" Huh!? Was it you?! You?! You sit there chantin' "Kill, kill, kill!" But how many of you ever killed a man before? Lemme fill you ****in' hyenas in on something. Killin' a man is like... Its like... Its ****ing terrifying!!! I still get nightmares of that day. Every ****in' night I see those eighteen guys. My fists bashin' their heads. Sound of crushing bones, screams. The fear on their dead faces... Its like it happened yesterday. ****, I know I scarred their families for life. I feel awful. But that... The remorse is nothin' compared to the real horror! Once you kill someone, you can never escape the horror of what you done! I gotta relive that bloodbath everyday. You have any idea what that's like?!"

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Yakuza 4 (US, 03/15/11)

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