This week we saw the release of both Final Fantasy XIII and Yakuza 3. Although most people has probably gone out and bought Final Fantasy XIII and realized that the first two hours of fighting didn’t give them any experience points, I was out swinging bicycles at street punks, swinging them into telephone poles, and smashing their faces in with a safety cone, which are just few of the many moves you can do, all while getting experience points to level up Kazuma Kiryu. So check after the jump for why I was happy to buy this Sega game over Square Enix’s game.For those that are afraid to pick this game up because they wouldn’t know the story are in luck since the game has a nice recap of what happened in Yakuza 1 and 2 to get the gamers all catch up to the story, since it helped me out. Now, to explain what the game is. The story picks up right where 2 ended and the graphical jump Yakuza went through from the PS2 to the PS3 is amazing and one will easily see it after watching the recap videos. Once again, you go through the life of Kazuma Kiryu, former 4th chairman of the Tojo Clan, who once again leaves the Yakuza business and now runs an orphanage down at Okinawa, but once again, once a Yakuza, you can never get out of the business and immediately, there is a huge story twist at the beginning and thus begins Kazuma return to the business.
Depending on the story, you will either be in Okinawa (The tropical side of Japan) or the streets of Tokyo, and one will appreciate the details put in. The story has go to one point to the other and fight a Yakuza higher up or boss. The great thing about that though is that either during or between story chapters, you can take Kazuma out in the city and explore where ever you want. You even have the options to do substories and gain experience points, money, and items that way as well. Some of the items you gain will help in building new weapons for Kazuma to use and kick ass with or items that can be equipped to help with stats.
The fighting game play is pretty simple but can get pretty deep as you level up. Also, with certain weapons brings on deferent moves and fighting style, where in one point in the game, you can start mastering certain weapon fighting style to be able to use the weapons when you go see Kamiyama, a weapon nut, will build and modify for you. Of course, at one point at the game, you will get to go in to the underground cage fighting scene where you can enter through many tournaments, single or tag, and just kick ass in an underground MMA like atmosphere.
The many things you can do outside of the story chapaters is go out on dates with girls that will eventually get you laid, which other than boss fights, you get the most experience points from. Go do some Karaoke, play some 9 Ball and darts, play some arcade games or getting toys from the UFO Catcher at the Sega Arcade, playing both Japanese and American gambling games, go golfing or go at it at the batting cage, or just fish. Some of these are only available at certain areas but you got a lot of choice and can easily spend hours doing these stuff, trust me because thats what I did. Going to restaurants help you gain experience points as well.
If there are any complaints, one can say that maybe the game can get repetitive, but then again what game isn’t. Another can be that it’s not fully voiced and some people today are a bit too lazy to read, since the game is subtitled. However, the subtitle translations are pretty funny so it may be amusing since they throw a lot of profanity in there (which kinda captures the silly dub Yakuza 1 had). One other complain can be that there is a mandatory game install of 5GB, but one should remember that game came out last February in Japan, where game installs was pretty much in all games. The one major complaint will be that Sega did take two things from the game, which are the Caberet/Hostess Club and a Japanese History Quiz, which the later I understand why they took out but Yakuza 3 was known for the silly yet awesome hostess club scenes. Instead of meeting these girls at these clubs, you meet them at the Burger place or another restaurant.
The game really does bring a nice mix of sand-box game play and RPG elements, and if you were a fan of Shenmue from the Dreamcast days, you will feel right at home with this. Some Japanophiles will appreciate the details of the city and shops that are models or based on real life Japanese stuff (or bitch about how one detail is off). For me, I can easily say this game was well worth the $60 and hopefully this review at least gets some of you interested in the game, and hey, there is a demo available on PSN which shows what Yakuza 3 can provide for you. Just a shame that Sega didn’t do much as far as advertising goes but I do thank them for bringing the game out here. If anything, give the game a try as it will be awesome for more games like this from Japan to show up outside of Japan so that we don’t pay for the high import price. Now if you can excuse me, I’m going to go back and smash peoples face into vending machine or throw a TV into someones face.
Score: 4 out of 5