Yakuza Kiwami 2 Review- The Happy Beatdowns Continue

Developer: Sega CS1

Publisher: Sega

Release Date: December 7, 2017 (JP), August 28, 2018 (WW)

Available on: PS4

The Yakuza series has been seeing a revival lately, with two new games (Yakuza 0, Yakuza 6: Song of Life) hitting last year and this year, along with two remasters of the first two games. The first Yakuza received the Kiwami treatment last August, and now its sequel gets an update this year. Yakuza Kiwami 2 runs on the same engine as Yakuza 6, and features some content additions, including the Majima Saga, a three chapter side story the shows us what Goro Majima had been up to since the events in the first game. Once again, the game delivers a solid, complex story along with its fun combat, complete with plenty of side activities and side stories that are often quite funny.

The story picks up a year after the events with our hero, Kazuma Kiryu. A visit to a local cemetery prompts flashbacks, if you wish, refreshing the story for veterans of the series and bringing newcomers up to speed. Kiryu is accompanied by his adopted daughter Haruka, and they encounter the new chairman for the Tojo clan, Terada. Terada is shot and killed, and the event leads Kiryu back to his yakuza life, trying to prevent a war between the Tojo clan and the Omi Alliance. The game plays out in the districts of Kamurocho, Tokyo and Sotenbori, Osaka. The story introduces a new villain in Ryuji Goda, and there are plenty of returning characters from the first game. The story is well told, at times thrilling and tender, with a few twists that you may not see coming. It’s told over 16 chapters, and can be completed under 20 hours if you focus on the main story alone.

Of course, the game does its best to distract you. There are indoor golf games to play, two Sega classic games (Virtua Fighter 2 and Virtual On, a robot mech game) in Club Sega, darts, and karaoke. You can also manage a hostess club, engaging in a competition to see who can make the most money. This is one of the meatier side activities, as you need to recruit hostesses and form partnerships with local businesses. The Clan creator from Yakuza 6 returns in a more robust form. Completing side stories gain you allies, who then can be added to your clan in engaging the enemy in tower defense style battles. The aforementioned Majima saga is unlocked as you play the main story, and is accessed from the main menu. It’s a decent diversion, and fighting as Majima is quite different from fighting as Kiryu. The three chapters are over too soon (they can be completed in under three hours), but it works in fleshing out one of the franchise’s more colorful characters.

Combat once again is solid and fun to engage in, which is a good thing, as you’ll be doing it often. Plenty of thugs, delinquents, and yakuza roam the streets itching for a fight, and it’s always satisfying to lay a beatdown on them. Weapons play a bigger role, as you can equip up to three, mapped to the direction buttons. Three pieces of gear can be equipped as well to aid in your protection. Eating plays an important role, as you gain the various experience points needed to level up and acquire new moves from food.The fighting again allows you to build up your Heat meter, allowing you to unleash a powerful attack with a simple button press. There are a couple of QTEs sprinkled throughout, but they are very few and far between. Blocking and dodging is crucial when fighting bosses, though you can pause mid-fight to take in some first aid or even food to bring your health back up. It’s a system that can be challenging on the higher difficulty levels, but it’s set up to keep things fair and fun.

The game overall is beautiful to look at, with some of the best character models out there. The voice acting, in Japanese with English subtitles, is strong, delivering well written dialogue that rival your better crime movies. The story has its share of twists and turns, is plenty violent, but also has heart and humor as well. There were only a couple of noticeable flaws. The camera angle is sometimes not your best friend, as scenery can block your view at times. It doesn’t happen often and rarely causes any real issue, but it’s there. Those who pay attention to detail may notice some minor inconsistencies. The cell phones are flip phones, common enough during the game’s time period of 2006, but are equipped with some smart phone capabilities that didn’t come along until later. Walking through the streets of Kamurocho and Sotenbori will have you bouncing off of NPCs that for some reason walk into you. Fortunately, the results are more amusing than annoying, and most streets are wide enough to avoid collisions. Your AI partners are competent enough in battle, but often will run into you for some reason.

In all, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is another strong entry for the Sega franchise, and hopefully will enable the third, fourth, and fifth games to receive the Kiwami treatment and be brought west. The story is complex and well told, with strong characters and performances. Combat is fun, and adding weapons gives another layer to dispatching enemies. There is plenty of content, with enough side stories and activities to keep you playing after the credits have rolled on the main story. The minor flaws of occasional bad camera angles and some minor inconsistent details in no way mar the overall experience. Fans will need no prodding in purchasing this, and since all of the games recap other entries, newcomers can jump in and be easily brought up to speed. Yakuza Kiwami 2 continues the strong saga of Kazama Kiryu, and is a must play for those who enjoy well done crime stories. Here’s hoping the rest follow, so the west can enjoy the full tale told over six games (seven if you count the prequel Yakuza 0).