Review in Progress: Yakuza 4

We share some thoughts on our time in Kamurocho in advance of the full review.

by

I've spent a few dozen hours now with Yakuza 4, running around the streets of the noisy, neon-lit pleasure district of Kamurocho. When not kicking dudes in the face and beating them bloody with everything from signs to sofas, I've been engaging in a host of pastimes both innocent and adult in nature. The full review of this latest entry in Sega's gangster saga will be up on Monday, but I wanted to share some of my experiences with you now.

First and foremost, Yakuza 4 is absolutely, completely crazy. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has played the earlier Yakuza games, but if you're new to this series, be prepared for a lot of ludicrously over-the-top fight choreography and a ton of larger-than-life characters. Perhaps the biggest thing that sets Yakuza 4 apart from its predecessors is that you now play as four such characters, rather than just one. The inscrutable Kazuma Kiryu, hero of the earlier Yakuza games, is still here, but he's joined now by three other memorable protagonists. There's Shun Akiyama, a loan shark with a very unconventional way of running his business; Taiga Seijima, a convicted murderer whose quiet exterior hides a passionate soul; and Masayoshi Tanimura, a corrupt cop who operates according to his own moral code.

Each of these four characters has his own fighting style, and his own personality. Like the earlier Yakuza games, the story here is an intricate tale, packed with betrayals and stunning revelations. The way it's told isn't always exciting--many scenes substitute dry text and canned animations for voice acting and prerendered visuals--but it's overflowing with emotion. Like a good soap opera, the heightened emotions and constant surprises make this story an engaging one. And the fact that it hops from one fascinating character to another at regular intervals keeps the story moving until the credits roll.

You have to clobber hundreds of dudes before you reach the end, though. As you run around Kamurocho, thugs constantly approach you and demand your money or just insult you, which inevitably leads to fists and feet flying. Showing these punks the error of their ways is rarely challenging, but it's fun nonetheless. The responsive controls make pulling off insane, physics-defying combos easy and enjoyable, and you frequently level up, which gives you access to new moves to expand your arsenal.

These tough guys enjoy relaxing in the company of women who are paid to talk to them.

But there's more to Yakuza 4 than just brawling. A lot more. Kamurocho is a pleasure district, after all, so it makes sense that on its streets, you find video arcades, bowling alleys, and batting cages, along with more adult forms of entertainment, like massage parlors and hostess clubs. These latter locales were removed from Yakuza 3 when it was released outside of Japan, but Yakuza 4's international release contains the full, uncompromised experience. Spending time with hostesses is a dating sim in which you give gifts, choose responses in conversation, and participate in activities like karaoke (a simple rhythm game) in the hopes of making the hostesses fall for you. Visiting a massage parlor triggers a minigame in which you try to receive as much relaxation as possible from the massage, if you know what I mean. Elements like these certainly won't appeal to everyone, but they do enhance the sense that this is a pleasure district you're hanging out in, and with the early minor exception of a brief bit of time spent in a hostess club, you can avoid these aspects of the game altogether if you prefer. You can also while away the hours (and earn money and prizes) playing poker, blackjack, darts, billiards, mahjong, and a number of other traditional Japanese games of skill and chance.

Regardless of how much or how little time you spend with these activities, Yakuza 4 delivers much more of the outrageous brawling and juicy melodrama that are staples of the series and introduces three memorable new protagonists who can each stand proudly beside the charismatic Kazuma Kiryu. Our full review on Monday will have more detail, but suffice it to say that if you're a fan of the series, or if you're open to experiencing some emotionally charged, hard-hitting action with a distinctly Japanese flavor, I think you'll enjoy your time in Kamurocho.

Discussion

35 comments
Generic_Dude
Generic_Dude

I figure since Yakuza 3 got an 8.0 and this one's very similar except with more content and less orphans, that they'll probably give this one an 8.5. While I appreciate the fact that, unlike IGN, they're actually going to play it before crapping out a review, I will say that, as is typical for Gamespot, this review is taking a long time to produce.

finalstar2007
finalstar2007

Sounds like a 9 or higher game to me, im interested

ompongjj
ompongjj

maybe they thought other people may not like it..,,

Kratos_Kills
Kratos_Kills

I didnt play Yakuza 3 yet but I didnt know those contents were removed in it. Yakuza 1 and 2 had those and they were international with PS2, why did they remove it on Yakuza 3 ?

ompongjj
ompongjj

good thing its full content now =) you can date girls here =)

KitexGamer
KitexGamer

This looks like a good game for me to start on. I've never played the others but I've always wanted to.

ompongjj
ompongjj

its here!! wee!! i have one already and its awesome =)

risako9
risako9

2nd image made me drool. XD i'm getting this next week

irishdude199210
irishdude199210

Still havent finished yakuza 3 yet haha i've played 80 hours of it and, not joking, at least 55-60 of those hours are minigames and side missions haha what a wonderful, wonderful franchise. It feels old school, yet fresh, I love it :)

Castlevania1986
Castlevania1986

Whats with the damn talk about Japanese girls all of a sudden? I think any male that thinks only Asian girls are pretty has a fetish problem. Last time I check, women in all racial groups were beautiful. You should try to do more research on that, boys.

BatshtCrazy
BatshtCrazy

It deserves atleast an 8 here at GS. After reading the review of IGN for this game i am now sure that they have incompetent reviewers. Not the first time i noticed either, those guys wouldn't know how to play a game unless you gave them a guide or explained how orally. Im sure though that GS will do this game justice. Predicting 7.5-8

risako9
risako9

if Yakuza 3 got 8.0 and you say it's a blast then i'm expecting a 9.0

Nu2u
Nu2u

These games are a bloody riot! I love being pleasantly surprised by dark horses that do their own thing and fly in a good value for money completely under the radar. There's nothing else on the market quite like Y4. Great way to cleanse the palate of FPS apathy. It deserves better than some of the IGNorant reviews it launched with. I'm optimistic that Gamespot "gets it". They're better at acknowledging the underdogs, as they did with Demon's Souls.

risako9
risako9

@shalashaska88-Let's just hope that it gets a satisfying score. But even if it gets a low score doesn't mean you have to skip a great game. As long as you're happy with it,right?

shalashaska88
shalashaska88

@tomertop You got me there! :P Haha, got that one from youtube yesterday. But it doesn't make it any less true though. I hate the double standards that IGN has in their reviews. Back to Yakuza 4, playing the game right now, and I'm having a blast (I do liked the series to death though, so I may be a bit biased.) I hope GS gives it a 8. Better reviews, more gamers interested, more Yakuza games.

Hillsy_
Hillsy_

Fingerscrossed, Please do well, please do well; I've just bought it! Waiting for my delivery.

chaldoboy14
chaldoboy14

@SillySkeleton But even with the cut material, it was a beast of a game with loads of things to do. Funny how a game with many cuts from the Japan version, was still much bigger with a lot more to do then many games that release here. Also your loss for swearing the series off, Yakuza 4 is even bigger and better, it's a blast.

SillySkeleton
SillySkeleton

Nice that they're actually giving us the full game this time around. Too late, though. I already swore off the series after Sega conveniently avoided answering questions about just how much content was cut from Yakuza 3 before release.

Kleeyook
Kleeyook

Yakuza 4 is superior than Yakuza 3 imo. It has hostess club unlike the previous one where they cut off that feature from western release! :D

risako9
risako9

@Newager - The tooth you're referring to is called Yaeba, It may be not desirable in the west. But to them they find it rather cute especially for girls. :)

Newager
Newager

@risako9 yes, they are either cute or hot. But those are the ones that make it into the popular media. The rest are either old, too skinny, too geek looking or have a buck tooth (believe me a lot of them have bucktooth XD). But they're still human nevertheless with weaknesses and pros and cons. Like all of us.

risako9
risako9

Japanese women whether virtual or in real life, They are either cute or hot.

franzito
franzito

@Goyoshi12 Totally @tomertop Nice one

KaranDesai
KaranDesai

Likes--> Nice moves and effects. Dislikes --> Could use a little better motion capture/animation.

tomertop
tomertop

@shalashaska88 asking for thumbs up, are we? This is gamespot, mate. anyway, Yakuza looks like a great game. I'm a huge japanese culture (especially anime), though I'm a bit disappointed that the demo was only about the fighting part, which I didn't really like very much... guess you'll learn more combos and such later on.

Goyoshi12
Goyoshi12

IGN gave it a 6.5. :shock: GameSpot proves that it is better than IGN yet again. :D

shalashaska88
shalashaska88

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Everiez
Everiez

I wish people can stop comparing this series to GTA or sand-box game because it's not sand-box type of game.

chaldoboy14
chaldoboy14

I'm in love with this game, Yakuza 3 was innovative as hell and I put 80+ hours into it without getting really bored. I've already got 10 hrs in this one, although there's a lot of the same, there's also a lot of new stuff to do. But the older stuff has improved which is great. Also the 4 characters and fighting styles are awesome, haven't played as all of them yet but I'm definitely satisfied, makes it a refreshing experience where you're not stuck with one fighting style for the whole game. I wish we got more games like this, this is innovative and just so different then anything else we're usually offered. Well as long as Yakuza keeps releasing in the US, I'll be happy, lets just hope it sells well to keep it going.

wolfyrabbit
wolfyrabbit

i think this game is gonna get a 8.5 from Gamespot