April 28th, 2018 by Vega Montanez
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, is the send-off title for series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. Developed and published by SEGA, the action-adventure PlayStation 4 exclusive was released on April 17, 2018. Technically the seventh main entry in the series, Yakuza 6 is an open-world adventure with a heartwarming and enchanting story to tell. As well as an incredible story to finish. Set in modern day 2016 (due to localization timing it’s actually two years behind) Yakuza 6 continues the series history of providing a look into Japanese culture and locations. Does Yakuza 6 do the series justice as a closing chapter?
Running on the all-new Dragon engine, Yakuza 6 is one of the most beautiful games of this generation. What makes the game even more beautiful is the transition away from the massive amount of loading screens in previous series entries. The fluidity of the game mixing cinematic moments and gameplay is stunning. The game takes the player to various cities throughout fictional Japan that represent the various environments that represent real Japan. The fictional city of Kamorucho is just as vibrant, commercial filled, and beautiful as the real Tokyo city. The biggest area to appreciate the graphics overall though absolutely goes toward character models. Every major character in the game looks inserted directly from real life. In some moments the facial expressions are so powerful, it was nearly impossible to resist tearing up. Even secondary characters, who obviously receive less attention, looked stellar. Nothing ever falls flat against the background, which makes the world feel truly alive and fully immersive. There may be a few games out there that look better in some areas but very few pull together all the elements in such a glorious way.
The final entry in the adventure of the Dragon of Dojima does an excellent job of bringing this narrative full circle. All the things that are loved and hated about Kazuma Kiryu appear to boost him or attempt to destroy him. His Yakuza past is just as damaging as it is protective of his family at the orphanage. Civilians, Yakuza, and the newly included Triad and Korean gangs all get a sense of the man that has been built over the past 20 years. From start to finish, this game is about how the life and choices of one man can have a larger impact on the world around him. This story shows growth, evolution, and humanity in a world shrouded in darkness. It brings hope for a greater future for everyone by testing the resolve of a man many wish they could be. His lifestyle has made it possible for him to explore things others never could as well as things others never want to. The biggest impact is Kazuma’s commitment to his own rules and regulations. He even comments on it while struggling with an insane decision. This is the type of story that needs to be adapted to other forms of media because it needs to be experienced by that many more people. If this is the final time we see Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima in action the send-off was perfect. Honestly, the story is told so perfectly that even someone who has never played a game in the series before can appreciate it.
It’s always tough to look at voice acting for Japanese voiceover games and give it a solid review because it’s a completely different language. Although the voice acting sounds great, who knows how cheesy it really sounds at home. What really gives this game a strong shine is the way the sound effects of the city pull the world together. Everything happening on screen can be heard and everything that can be heard serves a purpose. Walking past the arcade, the sound of all the games can be heard, just as walking by schoolgirls provides the annoying giggles. Menu sound effects are short and sweet. The one major issue with audio was the lack of any option to alter the levels of dialogue and sound effects. It does, however, have a really cool speaker placement control system. Making sure all the angles of sound and voices are perfect.
The Yakuza series has always been a quirky series filled with outlandish mini-games and Japanese cultural references. Although not as heavily jam-packed with mini-games as some of the later entries, in this case less is more. Batting cages and karaoke return alongside newcomers like gang building and underwater spearfishing. Contrary to the last two non-remake entries’ wide roster of playable characters, The Song of Life is strictly about Kazuma. The gameplay does an excellent job embracing that by also limiting fighting styles that older Kazuma uses to one style he’s mastered over the past two decades. This focused approach makes the game more about character building and really creates a strong relationship between player and antagonist. The quirkiness of the gameplay definitely isn’t for everyone but for those who know what to expect, the surprises are endless.
Yakuza has been a ridiculously fun game from the beginning. Yakuza 6 takes advantage of technological advancements and continues the legacy. Whether playing through the powerful main story or getting involved with a ridiculous side story like “I, Hiji,” putting the control down is hard. The only thing that’s always gotten in the way for many players is the lack of English voice acting. It becomes easy to fall out of the story when cutscenes begin and the reading part ensues. Outside of that everything else that takes place is amazing. Want to hit up an online chat room? Go for it. Want to spend the day chasing and beating up thugs around the city? Go for it. So few things are off limits that it’s really hard to not enjoy the time spent in fictional Japan. And if for whatever reason more excitement is needed, visit any of the Sega arcades and switch to a number of games. Heck, invite a friend over and beat them up in the B version of Virtual Fighter 5 right inside of Yakuza 6. Tell me where this game lacks fun again.
There are maybe a couple dozen video game series and characters that have attempted to bring the story arc to a complete close. There are even fewer spanning a length of time as long as Yakuza. And even less that have done justice to the story that was started. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is the perfect ending to a story that has been a part of the PlayStation legacy almost as long as the PlayStation itself. Yakuza 6 is fun, unforgettable, and unique. It packages the end of an era with the beginning of the next so well, it leaves nothing but awe-inspiring appreciation.
Posted in Reviews Tagged with: action, fighting, opinon, sega. review, story, yakuza, yakuza 6, yakuza kiwami
January 23rd, 2018 by Stefan Adrian "AdminMas7er" Robu
Teenage Girl Simulator 2017
Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is an episodic story-based adventure developed by Deck Nine and published by Square Enix. It is a prequel to Life Is Strange and it follows the story of a 16-year-old Chloe Price and her relationship with Rachel Amber, her newfound friend. They go onto an adventure regarding their own personal problems, which is the main focus of the game: two teenagers trying to solve teenager-ish problems which can change their lives forever. Being an episodic game, the episodes were released over time, and this review comes after Episode 3: Hell is Empty was released, which is the final episode in this game. A bonus episode is scheduled for deluxe edition owners, but is not relevant to the plot of the game. For first impressions on the game, you can check the original review here.
Graphics-wise, there are differences here and there comparing it to the original. The characters look similar, the environments are very familiar, most being brought back from the first game, with some new areas here and there. Technical-wise, the game was developed for current generation consoles, moving from Unreal Engine to Unity. The game feels a bit emptier in some parts, while livelier in others, with a change from a red-pink hue, to a more yellow aesthetic. The lightning seems a bit downgraded, and so do the shadows. But the faces and lip-sync, which was one of the bigger issues of the first game, have been improved. The game has Xbox One X Enhancement support, as well as some smaller patched-in improvements for the PS4 Pro.
The story is based around a younger Chloe Price, set 3 years before the events of the first game, in a world where she has lost her father recently, her best friend Max has left her, and she struggles with school. It’s a world where we see Chloe from another perspective, not just the one of a reckless, brash, angsty teenager, as she was in the first game. She finds a new friend in the one and only Rachel Amber, a considerably popular girl at the school. They go into an adventure known as “being a teenager”, having different types of problems, such as identity problems, family problems, existential crises, and so on. Other characters also return, where we see a different side of them. Not only that but you can get a little but more involved with your friends, including playing a tabletop RPG with your friends and running into characters who are aren’t quite finished in terms of what they become in the original game. Compared to the first game, the story shows an improvement in some areas. It feels like a more lively story, with more in-your-face moments, the drama being a little bit more “normal”, and a bit more dramatic at the same time. One minute, you’re taking part in a school play, the next moment, a soap opera-tier plot twist jumps right out at your coming from almost nowhere. The writing is also an improvement, having less forced “hip” words which were a bit annoying, but it has more awkward situations. It is good in some parts and absolutely horrible in others, one such situation is the ending, being as mistreated as the first game. Overall, the story quality depends from person to person, which is both a good, and a bad thing at the same time.
Regarding the audio, let’s start with the obvious. Chloe’s voice actor has changed due to actors’ strike at that time (the strike ended and Ashly Burch will return for the bonus episode), being replaced with Rhianna DeVries. This change is subtle in some parts, while very obvious in other situations. Otherwise, some voice actors return, while others are brand new, doing an okay job at capturing the teenager vibe. The soundtrack is composed and written by Daughter, a British indie folk band, with the music blending in with the atmosphere for the game, being closely related to Chloe’s emotions. Though some tracks tend to repeat themselves, otherwise, it’s an improvement compared to the first game. Having a more focused soundtrack really holds onto the theme of the game more, and there are several moments in the game where you can just stop and enjoy a moment of zen as music plays while you sit around.
What made the first LiS unique to other story adventure games (I’m looking at you Telltale) was the rewind mechanic, where you can return back and review your choices, or see what was the other choice. Well, Before the Storm removed this mechanic, which had no explanation at all in the first place, and implemented “Backtalk”, which makes a bit more sense, and seems more realistic. Plus it brings a bit more emphasis on the whole “your choices matter” part of the game. “Backtalk” is a mode where Chloe goes into a sort of an argument with someone, where the player has to choose his words wisely, and pay close attention to what the other person is saying. This is used as an extra option, which opens another way to solve a situation. Otherwise, it’s pretty much just like every other story-based episodic game out there. Another great addition is the collectibles, which are Graffiti in this case, where Chloe can draw different graffiti, depending on what the player wants from the options given. Overall, it’s still good and playable but without the time-traveling spin, the experience is a bit more mundane.
“Fun” in this case, is a very subjective thing. I felt that the game was pleasing enough, it had its moments, both good and bad. Replayability-wise, the only reason to replay such games is to see the other choices. Once again, unlike the original, you can’t just view all your choices and pick what you want. You’ll actually have to play the game a second time to get more branching options that may or may not pay off in the end.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a mixed bag. Nobody asked for this, yet it was welcoming enough when it was announced. It had a decent 1st episode, that left me yearning for more, the 2nd episode was focused more on character development, especially the relationship between Chloe and Rachel, which was a high point from the all episodes. And Episode 3 was a low blow, having a lot of unnecessary, but intense drama, and a disappointing ending. Otherwise, this game was pretty enjoyable. If narrative experiences are your thing, this is a decent, bite-sized adventure. It also isn’t necessary to play the original in order to enjoy this prequel.
Posted in Reviews Tagged with: before the storm, chloe price, drama, fuck your selfie, hella, high school, life is strange, narrative experience, opinon, rachel amber, review, teenage, teenagers, video games