Yakuza Kiwami - Attack on Dragon (Classic Game Review)
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku
Platform: PS4, PC, XB1
Genre: Action RPG
Original Release Date: August 29th 2017
Sega is known for a lot of things, making various arcade games being one that is the publisher's bedrock. From making games on the original Xbox to hitting the waves of PC releases. Things have shifted quite a bit and one so surprisingly for the Yakuza series. Which was heralded as the PS exclusive series that is now going full multi plat.
Yakuza Kiwami is a seminal remake of the original PS2 classic. Not only does it recreate the entire game, it is a modernized update with more added content and extended storylines for the main and supported characters arcs. With also chalk full of side activites to get lost into.
Yakuza series is a great reminder of how far Sega as a company has come within the gaming sphere.
Straight out of Kamurocho, Kiryu Kazuma is a Yakuza officer working for the Dojima family. Until tragedy struck one day and he gets sent to prison for 10 years. Now after his timely release, he roams the street as an outcast while stumbling onto someone who is related to the people of his past and catch up to the changes he sees after his imprisonment.
Yakuza is more of a serial drama but about bad ass Mafiosos at each other's throats. Adding up conspiracies, assassinations, vigilantism, betrayals, social unrest and you have Kamurocho. A district part of Tokyo that is known to be the only area in the entire series. Most of the time the game's a personal story between several characters around Kiryu.
There's one character that stands out the most among them and that is Goro Majima. He's everywhere, invasively entering your situation just for the laughs and comradery. He's your enemy, he's your pal, he's your trainer, he's the guy who constantly butts in everywhere including Kiryu's personal hobbies. No matter how many times he shows up, his maniacal personality mostly steals the spotlight even if he takes it by force.
Yakuza also isn't one to shy away from allegories about social issues, crime, and discrimination based on class and ethnicity. More of it is explored through sidequest activities that keep you busy more times than the main-game itself.
The story fleshes itself out with gripping narrative and casual Japanese humor thrown in, creating different undertones each scene after another. But the one aspect that takes most of the cake are the side characters you get along with, so many side quests that connects to the overarching narrative complements and expands upon the riveting journey. Even ending few of these with ridiculous plot twists.
But the main plot is gripping, tells a strong story with a lot of high stakes and haunting revelations. Yakuza Kiwami is where all the story that Yakuza fans are fond of started its inception and from the end, concluded itself on a high note.
Kiwami is a brawler game first and foremost. There's very little downtime and you're mostly fighting in the streets if not in main story. Important aspect is to focus on dishing damage while learn to dodge and counter attacks. You have 4 fighting styles: Rush, Brawler, Brute and Dragon style. While the first 3 differentiates in terms of sheer strength and speed, Dragon is Kiryu's ultimate fighting style which is brawler but delivered with great precision.
Most of the mechanics is surrounded around the face buttons prompts, with 3 different kinds of attacks and dodge. You can lock on enemy and block attacks. But it gets more interesting as you can mix a variation of all of them, like tilting the analogue upwards with a basic attack elbows enemy from behind which takes practice getting used to. Other one being counter attacks being even if you get hit, you can hit back harder in Brawler style. You can even grab enemies, punch them or throw them. But the most important part is, Heat Actions. When you fill up the blue bar, it glows like a glowing stick waiting to be utilized in different situations. Different styles have you use different heat actions with the same button configuration. Some heat actions cannot be used unless you have at least one climax heat bar. Taking hits will lower your heat, requiring that you dish some heats to get it back.
You can use items either for replenishing health or heat bar, while some items like sport beverages can do for both. Equipping certain trinkets give you bonus attributes or passive, useful against various scenarios, and weapons which makes the fight easier by pummeling or shooting foes.
Of course with all of these abilities, you'd be unstoppable force. But you need to work your way there by playing the game and earning experience points. Most easily gain by fighting hooligans, finishing chapters or just beating the crap out of Majima-san. Yes, he's also a core essential part of the game where he arrives in random places and challenges you to fight. Each battle fought, you learn dragon abilities and it increases your Majima Everywhere rank. Higher ranks earn you far better abilities to use. The ability trees are difficult to navigate however thanks to the Chinese checker design.
The streets of Kamurocho is sprawling with stores, restaurants, arcades, etc. Eateries you go to replenish health which earns you CP(completion points) per every new delicacy you've tried out. Stores and Pawn shop sell you items for use in battle. You can go to night club and dance. My main point is this is Japanese GTA without hijacking and driving cars.
Besides the main game, there's the side content. Being side quests and activities(mini-games). You meet up or bump into various people around the streets, helping them out on their plight while navigating through their own story. These are there to help you understand the district and the people that occupies it. As for the activities, you have underground casinos to gamble in, you play pocket circuit races, fight in cage matches for money and show, play with claw cranes, and so on. Most of these activities earn you CP, which you spend on a backdoor dealer dressed as a clown giving you various unique items and attributes.
There's just a lot to do, not as much as the other Yakuza games which offer so much more after the fact. Kiwami takes around 20hrs to finish the main game, while it took me 33hrs cause I was too busy trying to beat PC Fighter. But if you really want to master this game, it'll take nearly twice the time.
Yakuza Kiwami is a Sega game through and through. Honestly something that stands on its own aside from the rest of action RPGs in this and the early eras.
This is by far the best looking game when it comes to realistic portrayal of these characters. Even their clothes are well accentuated with the kind of detail that is eye watering. Even if rendered using their own engine which has reached its peak back in 2016 with Y6.
I don't know what else to say about the sound and music, it is a Japanese game. Borrows certain characteristics from both Japanese serial drama and TV shows but keeping it high tier. It's good, but nothing exceptional about.
Running this with Game Pass, it's clear that while this runs just as fine as any port should. It still has a few issues. Namely it is terrible to play with KB n M. Which is why they recommend playing it with controller from the start. I rarely had performance hiccups and bugs to speak off. So it is technically proficient.
It's a gem to be behold upon, while not perfect since the repetition of its glory do catch up, you'll still want to sink your teeth in it. Yakuza offers so much with a gripping story, a great city with fantastic characters and some MesuKing bikini girls.
If you're really into this kind of game, play Yakuza 0 first. Which is a prequel to the remake and sets the stage for the benchmark storytelling and gameplay that the series delivers. This is a perfect time to get into a Yakuza game especially considering the 7th installment is finally releasing this year.