Yakuza 4 Remastered Review- Beatdowns, Times Four

Posted January 13, 2020 by Thomas James Juretus in Video Games

Developer: Ryu Ga Gotaku Studio

Publisher: SEGA

Release date: October 29, 2019

Available on: PS4

Story has always been the strong suit for developer Ryu ga Gotaku Studio’s Yakuza series, and Yakuza 4 is no exception. What makes this game stand out in the series is that this time you play as four different characters- money lender and owner of Sky Finance, Akiyama, the yakuza hitman Taiga Saejma, cop Tanimura, and of course, series stalwart Kiryu Kazama. Now in remastered form as part of the Yakuza Remastered Collection, the game is available to PS4 owners, and while some things are showing their age, it does hold up fairly well.

The story centers around a series of Tojo Clan murders, and soon spins off into police corruption, private prisons, and callbacks to the first game of the series. Bracketed by a prologue and a finale, the game is split into four parts with four chapters each, with each part focusing on one of the four main characters. It’s a neat way to tell the story and get each character’s perspective before bringing them all together for the finale. Gameplay is standard fare for Yakuza fans, with missions, exploration, and, of course, combat. Focusing on the main story can take 20-25 hours, with more added on should you do side missions and participate in the various activities available in and around Kamuracho.

Leveling the characters is identical to the system used in Yakuza 3, and the combat, while still competent and at times fun, does feel a little off. Hit boxes feel unbalanced in favor of the AI enemies, even on the easiest difficulty setting. That could also be that Yakuza 4 does nothing new in this department, and while the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach can work with some things, in this it begins to reveal itself to be more repetitive in nature. Knowing the moves is still a good idea, as button mashing will only get you so far. But the Kiwami touch used in the first two games is missed here.

Saving is still using both phone booths and hideouts, and that too shows its age, as you can’t do two things at once, like moving things to the item box and saving your progress. Each step requires going back into the system. While this is a minor gripe, it would have been nice had this been streamlined for the remastered version. The map can be problematic as well, as it often feels unhelpful in finding your way, especially during a sequence where you need to avoid police detection. It’s somewhat serviceable, but again, it could have used an upgrade.

While the main story line is very well done, Yakuza 4 does suffer from some pacing issues, especially with the first three parts (Kiryu’s section, thankfully, isn’t burdened by this). Akiyama’s section gets things slowed down by grooming a client for his hostess club. Saejima has to engage in hide and seek with the cops by using both the rooftops and underground areas. And Tanimura needs to complete a fetch quest involving searching cars in a large underground parking lot. Each of these does play a part in the story, but each feels like it goes on way too long, and slows things down just as the story is getting interesting. Thankfully the main story is compelling enough to keep pulling you forward, and it does come to a satisfying conclusion in an after credits cut scene.

There are other modes of game play available besides the main campaign, as you can play the side activities like bowling or the videogames in the Sega building solo or against a friend. Completing the main story on any difficulty unlocks three new modes of play. New Game + lets you replay the story carrying over all upgrades, money , and items. Premium Adventure opens up, allowing you to explore without following the story line. And for those looking for a challenge, Ultimate Match opens up. It’s a high difficulty mode where battles contain certain conditions for victory. As with all the games in the series, Yakuza 4 does give you plenty of content for your money.

In all, Yakuza 4 is another great entry in the series, though it’s not without its flaws. Some systems could have used the Kiwami upgrade, such as saving and combat. But both are still serviceable. Pacing issues do crop up in the first three parts, but a strong main story does pull you through until the credits roll. It’s a nice touch to get to play as four different characters, each with their own style of fighting and getting four perspectives on the story, and this feature definitely makes this game worth your time.

8.5/10 stars

About the Author

Thomas James Juretus