The saga continues…
Yakuza. The name brings fear into the hearts of many. One of the longest running games in history is the center piece of the game with the same title (feels like this has been done before). Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the latest remade title in the franchise serving as a remake of the sequel originally on PS2. Released worldwide on December 7th, 2017, the remake carries a lot of updated visuals and a few updated gaming mechanics. Published by SEGA and developed on the dragon engine, Yakuza Kiwami 2 continues the adventure of Kazuma Kiryu.
One of the most powerful components of Yakuza when it originally released on PS2 was its graphical fidelity. It looked more stunning than 90% of the games on the market. Yakuza Kiwami 2 keeps the long running series history of incredible graphics very much alive. As an official remake it is exciting that the development team used the same engine as the most recent release. Everything in the background pops with just enough vibrancy to coexist with the forefront objects. Emotions can truly be seen in the faces of every character including the useless NPC’s on the streets. Cutscenes transition to gameplay incredibly smoothly.
The game picks up immediately after the events of first. It continues to build the relationships established in the first game with little room for new comers. Without spoiling the events of either game, Yakuza Kiwami 2’s story really starts to flesh out who Kazuma Kiryu really is. It also gives the player a lot of back story to some of the major antagonist who were involved in the first piece of the story. From start to finish the experience is emotionally captivating.
As an American gamer with interest in Japanese storytelling, the lack of American voice-overs is still a bit of a disappointment. The subtitle translation is still nearly flawless. The sound of the city is slightly lacking and in many points can feel lacking and hollow. When the ambiance gets it right though, it gets it perfect. The chatting of people on the street corners about the fight that just took place really fills in the liveliness of the world. It’s pretty clear the development team has mastered the art of carrying assets.
One thing that has to be addressed is that most Japanese game developers have an obsession with trying to fit in every possible gameplay mechanic in one. Yakuza as a series is no exception. Kiwami took the original and packed it with all the flavor from the newer games. While Kiwami 2 took the first remake and swapped out the story line. The over abundance of mini games still exist. The dynamic fighting styles are even more exciting with new over the top finishers. Kiwami 2 does feel a little bit faster paced in between the action, but that could be very subjective. Either way, It’s a remake that delivers on all its promises.
Yakuza games, by non-fans, have always been treated like the Japanese version of Grand Theft Auto. This comparison is a bit deceiving though. With a slew of different gameplay styles, the complexity of the game may be discouraging to many. Those who find themselves deeply ingrained in the story will enjoy exploring everything it has to offer. The fun factor in this particular series comes from the amount of depth to the Japanese culture that can be explored. As a pick up and play for a few minutes probably not the best option as it is hard to really get anything out of that. However, the game is fun enough to make the 3-4 hours of gameplay per sitting to get anything done is more than worth it.
Yakuza Kiwami set the standard extremely high for the remake world. Updated visuals put a brand new spark into the entry of an amazing series. Well balanced gameplay and outrageous unique elements keep the game exciting and fun during every session. The most powerful element of the game however is absolutely the story it tells. Loyalty, conviction, self development, and growth are all just a few of the topics that the narrative covers. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is proudly more of the same.