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Not So MMO: Not So MMO: Yakuza Kiwami PC Review

By David Holmes on February 13, 2019 | Columns | Comments

Not So MMO: Yakuza Kiwami PC Review

Sega has brought the next chapter in the Yakuza series to PC with the remake of the first Yakuza game in Yakuza Kiwami. Although chronologically Yakuza Zero happens before this, the first game came out before it on PlayStation 2 in 2006. Kiwami means Extreme, and that is what Sega tries to bring its fans with retelling Yakuza. Does it succeed on PC? This is our Yakuza Kiwami PC review.

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Yakuza Kiwami isn’t just a simple “let’s slap on some HD graphics and call it a new version” sort of port. The gameplay was reconfigured, the fighting style introduced in Yakuza Zero was used, cutscenes were redone, audio was rerecorded with the original voice actors and more nightlife spots were added to make this the most “Extreme” remaster it could be. The new version for the PC has been optimized with 4k resolution, uncapped framerates, customizable controls, and ultra-widescreen support. While this means you truly get the “best” version of the game, PC controls don’t feel as responsive for this version. They are passable but it’s clear that fighting (which is a big part of the game) works better with a controller more often than not. The rest of the features work out well on PC and bring out all the shiny and seedy elements of the underbelly of the Yakuza world in the game.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Yakuza Kiwami focuses on the main protagonist Kazuma Kiryu;  a hard yet honorable member of the Yakuza often referred to as the Dragon of Dojima. There isn’t a problem around that he can’t fix with a few well-placed words after he’s given them a good beat down. It’s said he can even cure drunkenness with his fists. At first, you start in 1995 when the unthinkable happens, the main boss for your Yakuza family is murdered and you Kazuma Kiryu takes the fall. Fast forward 10 years and everything you know has changed. Kiryu is a free man, but he burns with a passion to set things right and help those he cares for find justice. The main story of Yakuza Kiwami is full of drama, backstabbing and love. The story is powerful enough on it’s own that it could probably make for a serious tv soap opera drama. But there is more to the game and the series as a while than just the main story.

It takes a good 3-4 hours to get through the very beginning of the game, learning its system and getting the backstory filled in, after that the rest of the game opens up. There are various random side stories you may come across that are optional. Ranging from things like a young punk demanding you pay a toll to cross the street. Do you pay him, or teach him a lesson with your fists? Or a more serious story of a woman trapped and how far Kiryu will go to make things “right”. All of these pop up randomly as you run around the town and help a sometimes comedic distraction from the main story.

While there is a great deal of story to be told in Yakuza Kiwami, there is also a great deal to do. There are batting cages, video game arcades, pocket car racing, bars to see bikini-clad women dance, hostess clubs, various restaurants, mini marts, bowling, karaoke and more. It’s a long list of mini-games added to the main dish of the game. These can be fun and worthwhile for the prizes they can bring as well as the stories that can be attached to them. But they are a side dish to what you’ll be doing most of the time; talking, with your fists.

Yakuza Kiwami brings the fighting styles from Yakuza Zero to make for a better version of an older game. At its core, it’s a beat em up with four different styles of fighting that each feels different enough on their own. You can use the middle of the road Brawler which does a little of everything or the frantic fast-paced Rush style which has you weavi0ng in and out delivering multiple hits or perhaps going full Beast mode is more your style; dishing out slow but powerful attacks as you use various objects around you to pummel your foes into submission. The fourth style is the Dragon style that Kiryu is best known for, but after all those years in prison; the moves are all but lost to you. Don’t worry though, your good “friend” Majima is more than happy to help you relearn it. By sneaking out of the shadows to attack you again and again until you are the best Kiryu you can be before he can fight you to the death for real. It’s easy enough to switch styles while fighting depending on who you’re fighting. With all the styles though you have a Heat meter which grows as you continue to do well in a fight, unlocking powerful finishers (like spinning someone around and smashing them head first into the ground). You’ll be doing plenty of fighting throughout the game and thankfully it stays fresh and can be leveled up the more fights you win or with eating food or completing side stories which reward you with XP.

While you play as the stoic and hard ex-yakuza Kazama Kiryu, there are a host of other characters you’ll come across. The most “unique” and possibly one of the series most favorite characters next to Kiryu is Goro Majima. This eyepatch no shirt snakeskin jacket wearing Yakuza should not be taken lightly. He comes across as a crazy psychotic chaotic person, and he is. He’s taken a liking to Kiryu and ultimately wants to put his “friend” to the test by beating him to a pulp. Once you meet Majima it’s hard to forget him, he’s special in his way, but it seems deep down he gives a damn about Kiryu, or maybe he just flipped a coin and said, “Today I will not try to kill Kiryu, maybe.” But soon you’ll come to smile every time you hear Kiryu-chan! Majima may be one of the more colorful characters, and he isn’t the only side character. There is a host of them that are all fleshed out with their own stories that help to enrich the game as a whole.

Overall Yakuza Kiwami expands on what Sega has done starting with Zero and going forward. Yakuza Kiwami is complete remaster of the original game bringing it to new audiences on PC for the first time and breathing fresh life into an older series. The controls are superior with the controller over keyboard though, so that may be an issue for some. There is a fair amount of content in the game, but because part of that is the side stories and mini-games, this first Yakuza game may feel smaller than entries that come after it. At $20 on Steam, it’s well worth your time and money to give it a whirl and explore the tale of the Dragon of Dojima for yourself.


Score: 8.5


Pros

  • A powerful main story that pulls you in
  • Fun and varied fighting system
  • Fleshed out main character and multiple side characters

Cons

  • Mouse and keyboard don’t work as well as they could
  • Main story may feel short without side activities

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