TOKYO--Earlier today, during a visit to Sega's booth at the 2006 Tokyo Game Show, we had an opportunity to get our hands on a near-finished Japanese version of Yakuza 2 for the first time. That opportunity was possible only after standing in line for more than 20 minutes, of course, but on this occasion we're pleased to report that the wait was worthwhile--not only because we enjoyed our time with the game, but also because we learned a lot about it from the trailers we watched while waiting our turn.
In Yakuza 2 you'll reprise the role of Kazuma Kiryu, the disgraced former Yakuza member and hard-as-nails fighter from the first game. We're quite certain that we recognized several other characters from the first game in the aforementioned trailers as well, though since their names appeared only in Japanese, we're not able to confirm that at this time.
What we can confirm is that while you'll spend much of your time in Yakuza 2 doing the exact same things that you did in its predecessor--walking around Tokyo, getting jumped by random thugs, talking to people before beating them to a pulp, and such--there are plenty of new features to look out for. The combat in the upcoming game, for example, has been improved, and among the new moves that we noted were kicking a shotgun from an enemy's hand, banging two enemies' heads together, and counterattacking an enemy with a well-timed button press. We can also confirm that bystanders and allies will help you from time to time, either by passing you weapons or by holding enemies so that you can pummel them more easily.
Yakuza 2 will also improve upon the original's collection of minigames by adding a bunch more. In the first game, you were able to gamble in casinos and win prizes from UFO claw minigames. In the sequel, you'll also be able to go 10-pin bowling, hit golf balls on a driving range, play baseball, and pump coins into slot machines, to name but a few. One of the trailers for Yakuza 2 also appeared to show options for decorating your hideout, which on this occasion involved choosing a couch. Whether or not that's actually what was going on remains to be seen, though.
Our time with Yakuza 2 came to an end when we were beaten by a group of four guys inside a nightclub, which was kind of frustrating given that we'd clicked our way through numerous Japanese-language conversations and walked all over Tokyo (that's in-game, in case you were wondering) to get the V.I.P. pass needed to get upstairs in the club. Yakuza 2 certainly doesn't look like a game that will win you over if you weren't a fan of Yakuza, but if you enjoyed that game and you're in the market for more of the same, you should definitely keep an eye on this one. We'll bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.