Yakuza 3 Remastered Review (PS4)
Following on the trails of its recent Yakuza Kiwami series reboots coming to PS4 and selling well, it was later confirmed that Sega would indeed not only be remastering the 3rd and 4th Yakuza titles, but for the first time ever, bringing Yakuza 5 to western shores. All 3 of these games come together in one very nice and rewarding bundle. So, how does the first of the 3 aforementioned Yakuza games play after a lot of years worth of technological advancements and a whole new console generation has come and gone? Very surprisingly well, as a matter of fact. Despite the fact that this version is basically a beefed up version of the original PS3 title, it has managed to hold it's own rather well against the tests of time. While it may be true that were Sega & Ryu-Go-Gotaka Studios had put as much time and resources into truly remaking this 3rd entry in the same ways as they did Kimami 1 & 2, this would have scored even higher and more than likely be a treat to experience. Even so, the fact that the base game is still this good all these years later shows the hard work the developers put into during its initial debut on the PS3.
This time around, Kiryu Kazama-san has left Kamurocho with Haruka to run the Morning Glory Orphanage in Okinawa which he is where he himself spent his childhood. After a brief visit to Kamurocho in the early stages in the game, the setting shifts to the beautiful beachside Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa is a new city in the Yakuza series, meaning there are PLENTY of sights to see, side quests to uncover, and hilarious and bizarre locals to commute with. Kiryu also has a run-in with another yakuza family that pretty much runs things in Okinawa similar to how the Tojo do in Kamurocho. Okinawa is bursting with interesting places to discover and spend all your time at. Among the new additions this 3rd entry introduces is a whole golf course to test your skills at, a bar that has a Billiards (Pool) Table where you can practice your trickshots, a whole new Cabaret Club where you can manage and recruit hostesses, and among many other neat and fresh additions. Kamurocho remains mostly the same as it always has been so the new city with a completely different culture and sights to see is always a plus in a long running series such as Yakuza. On top of the streets of Okinawa are the actual Orphanage Grounds which consist of a private beach where Kiryu and his children of Morning Glory can fish and play at. Kiryu does have to spend a good chunk of the game at the Morning Glory site tending to the children who he must continue to support and feed, as well as fight for the land title after he discovers that the government is looking to buy out the property rights that the Morning Glory property sits on. The kids of Morning Glory all each have their own little personality quirks and tropes and truly make players feel invested in supporting & raising them in a protective manner. Okinawa in a nutshell is a blast, and it isn't until late in the game where players are given the option to traverse freely between Kamurocho & Okinawa, meaning that each time you visit either city, you might wanna get as much exploration as you are allowed to get the most out of the events unfolding at that particular point in each respective city.
The game does tend to make some of the minigames feel way too outdated & behind the times while playing on a PS4. For example, the Batting Cages & Dart Board Mini Games are complete blast to play on Kiwami 2, whereas here, the design almost feels cheap and inaccurate in comparison, due to the fact that this area of the game wasn't improved upon from the original versions. Another aspect of the side tasks that is ridiculously hard and lame and could have been so much better with an update is the Cabaret Club Management side quest. Not only is this system that the minigame uses ancient but it is also not very clear and helpful as to what you as the player are even supposed to be doing. For instance, you walk around the club listening to customers discussing what kind of girl they would like the hostesses to be, and after you have made your monotonous walk around the club you are then tasked with returning to the locker room where you then are asked to dress up/buy outfits/makeup/accessories for your girls to wear in the club. Ok, that much is simple to understand but the actual process of implementing this knowledge is whole different animal. I had several instances where even though I had tons of yen (money) on me, I could not properly invest in buying outfits and hairstyles etc. to match up with what the customers were requesting to see. So, every time I would not be allowed to invest my money on the right items and would have to waltz the hostess right back out there with the same looks as before and then having to repeat this process many times again to be able to finish this attempt. All in all, this whole minigame needed to be rebuilt from the ground up to match the thrilling and challenging events that Kiwami 1 & 2 incorporated, And these weren't the only tasks that were still rough around the edges either, but all in all there is more to like than there is to dislike.
So, to sum things up, Yakuza 3 does a pretty great job of earning its keep among the stellar series that many including myself have come to spend many hours invested in. The combat is simple, yet deep, and the story is predictable but fun & creative. There are many returning characters from the previous games that long time fans will appreciate as well as easter eggs hinting at events and people from the previous titles scattered throughout as well. I did not go deep into some of the events & characters that Kiryu meets due to not wanting to spoil anybody's adventure for the first time, but know this. If you are Yakuza fan, then this 3rd title is very well worth the money and time you will spend engulfed in its big city streets. There is TONS of stuff to do besides the linear path as always with Yakuza games, and with the newly announced Yakuza 7 in the works as we speak, I can think of no better time to get yourself reacquainted with the tales of the Dragon Of Dojima than right now!! Enjoy, this is a classic that has stood the test of time & prevailed triumphantly!!!