The latest remake in Segas epic saga of the Japanese mafia has the best graphics the franchise has ever seen, thanks to the new PC version.
When Sega first announced it was remaking Yakuza for the PlayStation 4 and PC it was hard to get all that excited. The first game has had numerous remasters before, and it seemed inevitable that it would be another one-off that was ultimately fairly pointless if you had to keep jumping formats to continue the story. But after prequel Yakuza 0 the series has seen an unexpected surge in popularity in the West and now its looking like we might actually see remakes of all the games.
We should make it clear that thats a hope rather than a promise, as Sega hasnt announced anymore remakes at the moment, as theyve currently got spin-off Judgment coming out in the West later this year and a brand-new Yakuza entry with a new protagonist sometime after that. But we hope theyll find some time for more remakes afterwards because this one is a lot of fun – even though paradoxically the original is one of the worst in the franchise.
Yakuza 2 was first released in 2006 on the PlayStation 2, just a year after the original. It had obviously been rushed into production after the unexpected success of the first game and takes place in largely the same locations but with a plot stuffed full of villains and convoluted plots that seem to be there only to hide the fact that nothing much else has changed. Except it has… for the remake at least.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 (kiwami means extreme) has you once again playing as legendary yakuza Kazuma Kiryu, who starts off the story in retirement, acting as a father figure for Haruka from the first game. You dont necessarily need to have played the first game to understand whats going on, as the basics are all well-known tropes and before you know it theres an all-out gang war going on and Kiryu has been dragged back in to sort everything out.
Although the games portrayal of the yakuza seems very authentic, Kazuma still appears far too nice a guy to be mixed up in such unpleasantness. But then Sega has always taken a very different approach to its crime dramas and, unlike in Grand Theft Auto, clearly feels a likeable lead is important.
Where Yakuza also differs from Grand Theft Auto is that the action focus is on fisticuffs, not carjacking or gunplay. The heart of the series has always been what is essentially the modern(-ish) day equivalent of a beat em-up, with simple moves and combos augmented by the ability to pick up anything that isnt tied down to pummel your opponents with.
A simplistic role-playing system is used to reward successful fights, unlocking new moves and increasing health and special attack bars, but this cant negate the fact that you can get through almost the entire game with just the same two or three combos. The sequel attempts to involve more opponents than before, and theres more room to manoeuvre when a brawl breaks out, but the overall experience has changed little. The remake even seems to acknowledge this by importing the clan creator from Yakuza 6 into the game, along with all its (Japanese) wrestling star cameos.
What has changed though is the graphics. Kiwami 1 was based on the same engine used for Yakuza 5 on the PlayStation 3, while Kiwami 2 is based on the tech used for PlayStation 4 game Yakuza 6 – the most recent mainline entry. The difference this makes on the PC is immediately obvious with much more flamboyantly realistic visuals, as the neon-hued streets of Kabukicho light up like never before. There are more pedestrians around too, creating a much more convincing sense that youre exploring the nightlife of a major city.
There are lots of other small improvements too, including much faster load times – which helps both when exploring and in faster transitions into fights. Theres also a much-improved map that makes tracking down side quests a lot easier. The only noticeable technical flaw is the simplistic ragdoll physics during combat, but were not sure whether thats just an oversight or an attempt to maintain the feel of the original game.
Kiwami 2 also adds a new prequel scenario featuring fan favourite character Goro Majima and Makoto MakRead More – Source