TGS 2008: Yakuza 3 Impressions

The Japanese mafia moves onto the PlayStation 3 with the latest in the Yakuza series.

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TOKYO--We in the West may just be getting our fix of Yakuza 2 on the PlayStation 2, but Sega is already hard at work at bringing out the next game in the violent gangster series for the PlayStation 3. Sega didn't have playable versions of the game--titled Ryu ga Gotoku 3 in Japan--on the 2008 Tokyo Game Show floor, but they did have a small theatre setup where TGS-goers could check out an extended video presentation showcasing Yakuza 3's storyline and gameplay.

Get your gangster on with Yakuza 3.
Get your gangster on with Yakuza 3.

The first half of the video was all about the game's story, which, unfortunately, was entirely in Japanese. From what we could pick up (and bear in mind these could be wildly inaccurate until we get better confirmation on plot), Yakuza 3 will put you in the middle of a expanding gang war which sees you taking on the various bosses of a crime syndicate. The main character is again Kiryu Kazuma, the main protagonist from the first two Yakuza games.

After the confusing story details (confusing for a non-Japanese speaker anyway), the presentation moved onto gameplay, and we must say it looked expansive to say the least. The game will have your character move around the streets of the fictional Kamuto-cho, with Yakuza 3's attention to detail to the city at this preview stage looking like it could rival Grand Theft Auto IV in terms of realism. The city scenes we saw looked extremely detailed, from real-life stores that you'd expect to see in Tokyo streets (such as a Club Sega arcade) to ads for real Japanese brands (like Suntory). The buildings, footpaths, pedestrians, and neon signs looked very realistic, and we can't wait to see it close-up when we get our hands on the game itself.

Combat was the major part of the previous Yakuza games, with Yakuza 3 looking like it's not going to skimp on either action or brutality. The brief scenes of combat we saw featured some impressive armed and unarmed combat with Kazuma. As well as fighting with fists and feet, we saw Kazuma take on mobs of gangsters with nunchakus, poles, and even a bicycle. The violence was also quite extreme--in one fight, Kazuma literally stomped on a downed opponents face with both feet, sending blood spurting dramatically.

It seems like Kazuma will also be able to learn new moves as the game progresses. In one example, Kazuma witnessed a woman being groped by some passing pervert. The woman promptly elbowed her attacker to the face and sent him packing. Kazuma can apparently record such scenes on his in-game mobile phone, learning them in the process and being able to use them in the next fight.

But what was even more impressive was the amount of nonfighting content the game looks set to have. Just like GTAIV again, Yakuza 3 seems to let you take a break from all the ultra-violence once in a while thanks to the inclusion of minigames. The ones featured in the video presentation included billiards, bowling, mahjong, baseball, poker, and even skill-tester claw machines. Romancing various young ladies also seems to have some sort of minigame element, as well as some customisation as the video showed players being able to adjust the makeup of their chosen female companion.

From the presentation, Yakuza 3 not only exhibits good graphics, but looks to have the potential to be a top action game for 2009. We'll bring you more updates on this title in the coming months, so keep checking GameSpot for more details.

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