Yakuza Kiwami review for PS4

Platform: PS4
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA
Medium: Blu-ray
Players: 1
Online: No

For those of you introduced and hooked on SEGA’s Yakuza series with the recent release of Yakuza 0, you don’t have long to wait for the next entry. Yakuza Kiwami, a remake of the PS2 original, hits store shelves next week, and slides in some nice continuity hooks to Yakuza 0 that weren’t necessarily present in the original game. In fact, as far as remakes go, Yakuza Kiwami is a considerable step up from the original, with a number of additions, new voice dialogue, and marking the first time the original Yakuza gets an official, Japanese dub release in North America.

Visually and mechanically, Yakuza Kiwami is pretty much identical to Yakuza 0. Meaning that despite the difference in time setting, the character models look pretty similar and the streets of Kamurocho still feature a whole lot of pretty neon lights, filled with citizens, fights, and other secrets to encounter. Yakuza Kiwami also features the multiple fighting style system of Yakuza 0, giving series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu the ability to switch between light, heavy and balanced styles on the fly. Each style has its own benefits and weaknesses, along with a number of skill trees to improve with earned experience points, provided by finishing battles and story objectives.

Newer additions to Yakuza Kiwami includes the often entertaining “Majima Everywhere!” encounters, wherein friend/foe Majima Goro will challenge Kazuma at various points, often when you least expect it. These fights will generally have some sort of modifier attached, and completing these battles is the sole way to upgrade Kazuma’s “Dragon” fighting style. Along with “Majima Everywhere!”, Yakuza Kiwami features the aforementioned Japanese dub, with the series established voice actors lending their talents. This is somewhat substantial, as the first Yakuza release in North America only featured an English dub, which unfortunately wasn’t the best. Finally, Yakuza Kiwami also features a number of new mini-games to spend time with, along with additional story details and scenes that help link Kiwami to Yakuza 0.

If you enjoyed Yakuza 0, but either haven’t played Yakuza since the original release, or at all, then I think Yakuza Kiwami is a must-buy kind of game. It controls fantastically well, and the addition of the various styles found in Yakuza 0 really expands upon the brawler battle system in a meaningful way. It’s also a really solid looking game, with a lot of fun visual flair, unexpected comedic sequences, and some downright moody criminal story trappings that make for an engaging, always entertaining ride.

I think Yakuza Kiwami, and the original game in general, had one of the best Yakuza plots in the series, and that holds true even today. The sole focus on Kazuma as the protagonist makes for a more focused adventure than Yakuza 4 and 5, and it’s nice to see how Kazuma builds his reputation as the Dragon of Dojima with this game. I’m also a sucker for betrayal/revenge plots, and the original Yakuza has one of the best in all of video games. So do yourself a favor and pick up Yakuza Kiwami when it releases on August 29th, it’s certainly not a game to miss.

Grade: A

Yakuza Kiwami – PlayStation 4 Steelbook Edition (Video Game)

Manufacturer:  Sega of America
ESRB Rating: 

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