Developer: SEGA/Ryu ga Gotoku Studio
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the newest remake in the Yakuza series from SEGA, bringing over the 2006 PS2 game to modern consoles. This one will be a real treat for Yakuza fans, considering it?s been long-regarded as the best game in the Yakuza series. That claim might be a little more contested with newer releases like Yakuza 0, but there?s still no denying that Yakuza 2 is a fantastic game, and this Kiwami remake only improves the overall experience.
The story for Yakuza Kiwami 2 picks up not long after the events of the first game. If for some reason this is your first entry in the series, the game provides a decent enough recap of the events prior, so it isn?t that difficult to get caught up. One thing that really stands out with Yakuza Kiwami 2 when compared to the later games in the series, is that series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu hasn?t completely given up on his Yakuza background and the Tojo Clan, which makes for a more intriguing crime story overall. The introduction of the Division Four police, Korean Mafia, and other elements make for a fun ride. Everything about the story holds up well, which I was happy to see.
There?s a whole host of new elements found in Yakuza Kiwami 2, like the use of the Dragon engine from Yakuza 6, new mini-games, side-stories, and even plot elements that help tie Yakuza 2 more into the existing games in the series. Majima has his own side-story via the Majima Construction plotline, the Host Club mini-game from Yakuza 0 shows up here, and you?ll get even more New Japan Pro wrestlers via the Clan mode that was introduced in Yakuza 6. There is a ton of side activities packed into the game, the majority of which feel worthwhile. There?s several other games to play, found in other Yakuza titles, like Mahjong, SEGA arcade titles such as Virtua Fighter 2.1, and even a, uh, urinal mini-game.
Along with the plethora of side activities, Yakuza Kiwami 2 adopts the combat and experience system of Yakuza 6. Kiryu will encounter enemies on the map highlighted by red icons that patrol the streets. If they spot Kiryu, they?ll run up to him and initiate a seamless combat transition. Defeating enemies will earn Kiryu experience, which can be even further advanced by visiting the various restaurants and consuming food to heal up and gain experience bonuses. Kiryu has access to a ton of skills, some of which are combat based, while others are designed to boost experience gains, your hunger meter, or aid in the various mini-games like the Host Club or the Majima Construction scenario.
Like other Yakuza titles, combat is essentially a beat ?em up, wherein you?ll use punches and kicks to take down enemies with varying combo attacks. The system seems basic on the surface, but as you unlock additional abilities for Kiryu, you?ll gain access to additional heat moves for disabling foes, improved dodge and parry attacks, and even team-up abilities that depend on where you are in town, allowing an NPC to join the fray if you?ve already completed his or her quest. It?s a pretty dynamic system overall, and while not new to the series, the frantic action keeps the constant encounters feel fresh and exciting.
I really, really enjoyed my time with Yakuza Kiwami 2, and as a fan of the series, I?d certainly urge you to check it out. It has very few flaws, outside of some minor animation issues and the occasional cumbersome combat sequence. It also feels like a much stronger remake than even Yakuza Kiwami, which was no slouch to begin with. It also has some solid ties to both Yakuza 0 via the new elements, and pre-existing story beats that feed into the more recent Yakuza 6. So check this one out when you get a chance, you will not be disappointed.
SEGA provided us with a Yakuza Kiwami 2 review code for review purposes.