Another emotionally charged Yakuza game with great new characters and that gives you a lot to do besides combat.
The story for Yakuza 4 is incredibly deep,complex and is very emotional at times.Often things will turn out differently than they first seem but they don't turn out differently just for the sake of doing so,the story revelations and plot twists are well thought-out and creative and they suit the story very well.
The new protagonists are:-
Akiyama.He's in his early 30's and he owns a hostess bar and he has a very easygoing personality,he's a bit of a ladies man and he sometimes handles potentially violent situations in a lighthearted manner which lightens the mood up for a game in a series that is known for having a very intense story.
Saejima.He's 45 years old and he's been in prison for over 25 years because he was convicted of 18 murders and he's on death row.
Tanimura is a corrupt policemen and he can be looked at as either a good guy or as a bad guy because he abuses his police powers but he gives much of his money to orphaned children and he's spends a lot of his time investigating leads to who killed his father and why his father was killed(even when he's supposed to be on duty).
Kazuma returns again an he's a former Yakuza who's in his early 40's and he runs an orphanage and his main aim in life now is to give the kids at the orphanage a good life but occasionally he has to go and fight against corrupt politicians and yakuza members who want to destroy the orphanage so they can use the land for something else or to help people he cares about who's lives are in danger from corrupt politicians,other yakuza clans or even corrupt policemen.
There's other main characters who are not protagonists but they are working with the protagonists or who are the bad guys and some of them have a deep and complex pasts or emotional stories to reveal or they're connected with the story in a deep way.
The main story uses concepts such as murder,gang wars,methods for how gang members rise up through the ranks in their gang and police corruption in a very deep and creative way.You'll have to play the game to see what I mean.
I started to care about some of the characters and I'm not just talking about the protagonists either.For example,one of the female characters needs a lot of money very quickly and she becomes a hostess and you can see how she doesn't want to do that job but she has no choice and I felt empathy for her when she had to entertain male clients.Some of the characters who help you or who are friends of the protagonists will die or bad things will happen to them.The rival Yakuza clan members will beat up female characters who are the friends of the protagonists and it shows how ruthless the Yakuza can be.The Yakuza clans have complex internal problems and shocking revelations.The way the police corruption works in Yakuza 4 is very complex and there's a deep story to explain how and why it happens.The corrupt policemen kill innocent people as a sort of payback,so it's not just the other Yakuza clans and corrupt politicians who you'll need to worry about in Yakuza 4.
The characters can surprise you,not just the protagonist but I mean any character and believe me when I say the story for every character can be a lot more complex than what you will think it will be and not black and white so you shouldn't judge any character in the game until you learn all the facts.
The game's story also looks at things in a philisophical or spiritual way because...
one character who's wealthy gave another character 10 million yen as if it was no big deal and the character who gave the 10 million yen to the other character said 10 million yen is 1/3 the income that an average Japanese college graduate would make in their lifetime
Tanimura neglects his job as a policemen and uses his authority to intimidate people who get in his way so he can have more time to find out who killed his father.But I'm sure everyone would do the same if they were in Tanimura's position.
END OF SPOILERS
I like how Yakuza 4's story sometimes has a lighter feel to it,unlike the previous Yakuza games which were always very intese.For example Yakuza 4's story has a perverted man who breaks into women's homes and steals women's underwear and and some of the women scream when they see him and it's hilarious.
The way Akiyama deals with Yakuza who would usually intimidate other people in a very carefree and lighthearted manner is funny and enjoyable.
The hostesses you can talk to have a lot of cute and interesting things to tell you and their personalities lighten up the mood.
If you've never played a Yakuza game before,I'll quickly explain what to expect from Yakuza 4's gameplay.It's gameplay is a mixture of beat em up,sandbox style adventure with LOTS of mini games,leisure actitivies and dating sims.
When you walk around the streets you'll be randomly attacked by thugs or gangsters.Many of the enemies can be beaten with basic button mashing,but when you fight against tougher enemies and bosses,you'll need to be more strategic with your attacks and time them well and you'll need to know how to balance blocking and timing your attacks and using special moves to your advantage and how to evade enemy attacks using a sidestep or roll.You can counter enemy attacks which allows you to get behind them and attack them.
You can pick up objects in the environment around you and use them as weapons until they break.You can also use guns,swords,baseballs bats
The combat system in Yakuza 4 feels more fluid than in Yakuza 3 and the combat feels more fun and encourages you to experiment with combos so you can put together longer combos to inflict more damage as well as to experiment with different fighting techniques and special moves.
The game does well to create diverse but fun fighting styles for each character.Akiyama is a kicking expert and has some very fast and agile kicking attacks and he's able to perform long kicking combo attacks.Saejima uses brute strength because he's a big,muscular guy and he can perform a charging-knee attack that can knock down multiple enemies and inflicts a good amount of damage and he can charge straight into enemies as if he's a bull.He can also do a spinning punch attack similar to the one Zangief from the Street Fighter games uses.However Saejima's attacks are a little bit slower than the other characters which can allow enemies to hit him first sometimes.Tanimura is very good at using counter attacks and has good speed but not as much power in his attacks as the other characters.Kazuma is strong all-round in terms of strength,speed,technique and he can put together some devestating combos.
Every character is capable of use holding style moves or putting together damaging combos.There's also occasional QTE's where you'll need to press certain buttons quickly to avoid getting hurt and in some cases receiving a lot of damage to your health.The QTE's can occur when you're walking through environments and enemies will try to make heavy objects fall on you and they have some other nasty surprises installed for you.Also,during boss fights.it's important to press the correct buttons during a QTE or your character will get hit by a powerful attack and will lose a lot of health.The combat system also has the heat system which allows you to perform powerful moves on enemies who are either laying on the ground or in other certain situations and you build up your heat meter by hitting enemies with attacks but if enemies hit you it will deplete your heat meter so it encourages you not to get hit and to string together combos to build up your heat meter quicker.When the heat meter is high enough,your character will automatically go into heat mode and they'll stay in heat mode until they perform a special,powerful heat attack or until enemies manage to hit your character enough to deplete his heat meter.The combat gameplay encourages you to knock enemies to the ground,not just to disable them temporarily when you're surrounded but also so you can hit them with a heat attack.Even if you don't have enough heat in your heat meter to perform a heat attack,you can still stomp on/punch an enemy who's on the ground or use Kazuma to make them stand up while they're still dazzed and pummel them with another combo.
Much of the fun from Yakuza 4's gameplay will come from the dating sims.You can go to the hostess bars and you can choose a hostess(each hostess has a name) and you can frequently visit her and you can try to make her like you over time by buying her gifts or talking to her and saying the things she likes and eventually she will ask you out on a date and if you keep making her like you more and more,eventually she'll have sex with you(but there's no sex scene,but she will mention about it).Trying to make the hostesses like you isn't as easy as it sounds because they have different tastes in food,drinks,hobbies and saying the right thing to impress them may not be as easy as it seems.Also,saying something or doing something a hostess doesn't like will make her like you less(how much she likes you is represented by hearts)and if you do or say something she doesn't like,the heart meter will go down.The hostesses have interesting personalities and hobbies and they seem almost like real women.
Some of the mini games allow you to gamble for money or you can play golf,table tennis,darts,have baseball batting practice,get a massage at a massage parlor from an attractive Japanese woman which also involves a mini game which can make your massage more pleasurable(you'll see what I mean when you play the game)and there's also pool and bowling mini games.When you play table tennis,you're supposed to stare at the breasts of the attractive Japanese woman player who you're playing against to make your character's heat guage build up so your character can hit scoring shots and that's the only method you can use to hit scoring shots! Also,when you're getting close to defeating the cute Japanese woman player who you're playing against,her breasts will start popping out of her gown!
You can go to a strip club which unfortunately isn't as good as it sounds.When you're sitting and talking with a hostess,she might ask you to look at a certain part of her body and you can zoom in on her breasts,legs or anywhere you want to on her.
You can buy clothes,jewelry,handbags,purfume as gifts for a hostess,and there's a selection of them to choose from and she might like them or she might not like them and if she doesn't like them you'll waste a lot of money on her! You can ask a hostess to dress up in clothes and accessories that you've bought and the clothes and jewelry can make her look elegant or seductive.Because Akiyama runs his own hostess bar and trains them,he can ask some of them how to dress and what jewelry to wear and customize their make-up!
You can do many side-missions,look for locker keys that people have lost to open lockers to gain free items/money and you can look for garbage that's well hidden throughout the game if you want to try to earn a trophy.
However,it's annoying when the game sometimes doesn't tell you where to go and the fact you're in a big city and the place you need to go could be anywhere makes the game frustrating at times if you don't use a guide.
The graphics looked great most of the time,but a little bit rough in a few areas.The characters have semi-realistic skin tone and you can see the fabric patterns in their clothing and I like how the city has many colorful,lite-up store signs at night time and cute,Japanese style stores.The developers even went to the effort of adding extra detail to the city because it also slums and homeless people besides the glamour areas.You'll still see the beautiful beach area with the beautiful waves near Kazuma's orphanage.There's beautiful cutscenes of skyscrappers lite up at night and I like how the game uses hazey colors for story events that happened in the past to give them more heart felt.I love a cutscene that shows a bay with water that's lite up from the city lights at night time because it looks so beautiful.There's also epic scenes that show a huge number of Yakuza in an area to make it look like the Yakuza clans are the size of mini armies.
The music is awesome.There's new music that's used for some of the battles and it suits the atmosphere tremendously.The battle music from the previous Yakuza games is back too and still adds exciement to the battles.The music for the emotional moments has a nice delicate feel to it.I like how the voice acting is all in Japanese and the hostesses sound cute when they talk and flirt.
Overall,the game is awesome because it's story is deeper and more complex than you can imagine and it has many powerful or emotional story moments.It's gameplay is terrific because the combat is fluid and satisfying and there's a lot to do in the city and flirting with the hostesses and trying to get them to date you/sleep with you is fun and the city has great atmosphere and the game's music is awesome.