Review: Yakuza 5
Well folks it’s finally here! Yakuza 5 finally makes its way over the states and folks it makes a big splash. Despite the fact that it’s been out in Japan for quite some time, I did not listen to the countless people who told me “we weren’t getting it;” and managed not to spoil it for myself. As a result, I went into the game completely unaware of what to expect. But fear not, because all expectations of what makes a game great, will be filled in Sega’s Yakuza 5!
At the risk of not filling you with spoilers, I will somehow keep the complex story of this game to a bare minimum. The game starts with the Tojo Clan’s leader Daigo Dojima in a car with the leader of the Omi clan. The two go on about the war between the clans and how important the meeting they are headed to is. Basically, they are trying to squash the beef and form an alliance.
That all seems good and eventually Daigo gets out of the car and makes his way to a cab. The cab driver insisted he not get in and should have stayed more persistent about it. You see the cabbie is none other than legendary 4th chair, our favorite hero Kiryu Kazama. Once Daigo gets the ride he wants he goes on and on about the issue, yakuza war, alliances, etc. Daigo doesn’t give the cabbie Kiriyu a destination and promptly leaves his cab which causes the domino effect of ruining Kiryu’s new life.
You see Kiryu has moved to a new city and assumed a new identity (for reasons I’m not going to spoil) as a simple taxi driver just going through the motions of the day. In the days to follow, two of the Tojo Clans members confront Kiryu. As his luck would have it Daigo disappears without a trace, and his last known sighting was in Kiryu’s cab. This causes the Tojo clan to spirals into a state of panic and although Kiryu tries to stay out, once Yakuza, always Yakuza. And slowly but surely he finds himself being sucked back into the dark underworld.
If you get bored while playing this game, then can assure you it is not the game it’s you. This game has so much in it, it has multiple forms of gameplay in it ranging from beat ‘em up, to mini-games, to 3rd person shooting.
The game is broken up into parts and in each part, players will use a different character for five chapters. The leveling up system in the game is different depending on the story as well. The player can level and buy their skills with soul points. Now you can take the traditional route and bash enemies’ skulls in or the player can do a variety of side quests that don’t require any combat at all to get EXP. Players can get more than just EXP off these side quests, they can get money as well. The mini-games are fun and challenging. For example, Kiryu’s taxi missions where you have to drive as if it were in real life and not just GTA your way to the destination. And Taiga’s game features hunting which turns the game into a third-person shooter.
The characters that engage in combat, all have different fighting styles. There are a variety of weapons players can buy or just pick up to fight with which will level up the weapon skills. All can perform heats. There’s also a new meter above the health bar when filled the player can use the “Essence of Heat ” and if all button actions are pressed correctly can deal a huge amount of damage. To fill health and heat, the play can eat at restaurants; buy food, or healing drinks. But the last style of gameplay and my all-time favorite is the Pop Idol story of Haruka. Instead of pounding thugs’ faces into the pavement, her game features a variety of mini-games to level her up and her main mini-game is a performance. The gameplay there is similar to Project Diva.
Now that was a long read right there wasn’t it? Because you know what’s longer than that read? The cut scenes in this game that’s what! Folks this is Yakuza, and they are known for these types of things. On the game cut-scene tier, they’re right below Metal Gear. The characters all speak Japanese there is no English voice option. So expect to be sitting there reading unless your Japanese is good enough. You can skip the CG cut-scenes and mash x through some of the in-game ones. However, you will get lost story-wise and miss all the explosions and headshot action.
Like I said earlier if you are getting bored playing this game, it is because it’s just not your cup of tea. This game is flawless. This is how games with big budgets should be made. No flashy DLC asking you for more money, no augmented preorders, no season passes. None of the colorful tactics we see all the industry hit us with all the time, just perfection. A game with tons of things to keep the player interested trying to get that 100% cleared on everything. It reminds you of the good old days of gaming. Cut-scenes may be long but the heavy content balances this out and for that Yakuza 5 walks away with a 5/5. This is how it’s done people now go get your copy ASAP!