Yakuza 4 Review
- Posted March 29th, 2011 at 13:43 EDT by Steven Williamson
- PSU Review Score
- Avg. user review score:
You must be logged in to rate a game
Yakuza 4 is the thinking man's brawler. Grab a drink, preferably in a very large glass, settle down and immerse yourself in the violent neon-lit streets of Kamurocho. Give it a chance and you'll find it hard to put down.
- The engrossing storyline and brilliant character building
- The chance to play as four different characters, which adds combat variety and replay value
- The immersive game world that charms with its odd side-quests, mini-games and brutal combat.
- The familiar backdrop of Kamurocho is starting to look a little stale
- Lots of combat animations taken straight from Yakuza 3
(continued from previous page) ...with it though, and these scenes serve well to really build up the backstory and familiarize you with these new characters.
Alongside the familiar face of series staple Kazuma Kiryu is Masayoshi Tanimura, a corrupt police officer and heavy gambler; hostess club owner and loan shark, Shun Akiyam; and former Yakuza and escaped prisoner, Taiga Saejima. And, while Kazuma’s storyline provides the most entertainment – perhaps because we’re so familiar already with his past - the three new additions are all charismatic folk that bring their own unique character to the game, and add even more depth and twists to the engrossing tale of death, honour, betrayal and lots more death. Furthermore, each of the four playable characters offer a different combat style, which adds some variety to a game that features a hell of a lot of fight sequences.
Combat is enjoyably brutal and fluid. Though many of the animations stem from Yakuza 3, rarely does head-stamping, smashing objects over heads and using the environment around you to beat up folk, get boring. Heat moves are back too, allowing you to fill up your gauge and then pull off some jaw-breaking manoeuvres. There’s a lot of fighting in Yakuza 4, and it can get annoying when you’re just trying to explore an area, or just want to head to the shops when another punk challenges you to a fight. However, the lure of being able to improve your character, as well as the satisfaction of cracking some skulls in the cinematic fight scenes proves to be enough motivation to make it all worthwhile.
With the EXP earned through these fights and side quests, you get to build up your character with skill points. There are tons of new active and passive abilities that give you access to crazier combos and heat moves, so there’s a lot more to fighting than just button-mashing. The new characters also take a bit of getting used to and provide a new challenge away from Kazuma’s familiar move set. The larger frame of Tanimara, for example, means that he can pick up heavier objects and has strong parrying skills and a heck of a punch, but can’t move as fast as the agile Akiyiama, who can down an opponent with a swift flurry of punches and kicks. Though we’ve seen the way that Sega blends brawling with QTEs and cinematic finishing moves all before in Yakuza 3, there’s still a lot of satisfaction to be had out of Yakuza 4’s brutal fights - and having the option of these different fight styles gives you choice.
Outside of combat and some tough duel challenges - where you face the game’s bosses - there’s plenty more to get embroiled in. Chase missions, where you might have to run through the streets after someone throwing bottles at them, or race to a finishing point, often prove to be quite frustrating if you miss the button-prompts, but there’s a variety of side-quests to appeal to every type of gamer. There’s arcade games, card games, sports games, everything ranging from the traditional to the downright bizarre. The 'Create a No. 1 Hostess!' quest, for example (playing as Akiyama), takes you scouting for girls and allows to dress them up and train young ladies to become the number one dancer at the caberet club. Similarly bizarre is an utterly pointless massage game, with a young (very young-looking) girl who relieves your tension in return for you twiddling your analog sticks. More traditional pursuits such as poker, bowling and fishing also make an appearance alongside Japanese past-times such as mahjong, pachinko, and visiting hostess bars, where you pay women to simply flirt with you - Japanese men really do need to get out more.
Nonetheless, there's an extensive list of things you can get up to in Yakuza 4 and like the previous games it's an immersive game world that is either going to frustrate you, or totally engross you for many hours. Playing the mini-games alone, you could idle away the days and totally forget what your last objective was, but if you did you'd miss out on the enjoyable storyline, the interesting characters that you meet along the way and some funny interactions with the crazy folk of Kamurochô. Nonetheless, we are ... (continued on next page)