Those of you that have been slow to upgrade to the next generation of consoles or were smart enough to hold onto your old PlayStation 3 are in luck because Yakuza 5 is now available in an English version for the first time. After much anticipation the Western release of Sega’s immensely popular Yakuza series has come stateside nearly three years to the day after its original release in Japan and it’s the best game in the series yet, at least on Western shores. This is the most that PlayStation 3 owners have had to be happy about in quite some time and the game supplies some rare bragging rights for a console generation that is now largely overshadowed by its new brothers in the marketplace. Thankfully, despite its age the game holds up well thanks to its innovative gameplay and impeccable attention to detail.
For those unfamiliar with the Yakuza series the game has been described as a spiritual successor to the cult-favorite game, Shenmue mixed with a slathering of Grand Theft Auto and a healthy portion of beat ’em up classics like Final Fight and Streets of Rage. The end result is an incredible gaming experience like no other that puts players right smack in the middle of Japan and actually lets them explore the sights, sounds, and tastes of the country. Players are able to eat, drink, visit the infamous hostess clubs and even play arcade games all within the Yakuza world.
Yakuza 5 is by far the biggest game in the series and expands itself by covering five immaculately detailed locations in Japan and five different playable protagonists, including series mainstay Kazuma Kiryu and, for the first time as a playable character, hopeful pop idol Haruka Sawamura. All the main characters are richly developed and are well explained so that even newcomers to the long-running series will be able to jump right in with little difficulty.
The game also features a variety of shops and stalls that your character can visit including restaurants, food stalls, arcades and casinos. The arcade features fully playable versions of real arcade games such as Virtua Fighter 2 and Taiko Drum Master as well as Japanese pachinko machines (which are like a cross between slots and pinball). The gaming is so realistic in Yakuza 5 that they even have an online social casino that you can access on your in-game phone that offers an experience reminiscent of this online gaming platform with a variety of games for players to try out. The pains the game has gone through to present this level of realism is astounding with many touting the game’s realistic approach as one of the best examples of “virtual tourism” and the closest you’ll get to a trip to Japan without buying a plane ticket.
There’s also a slew of even more mini-games lurking within this expansive title including a super fun and exciting car racing mode where you street race your taxi against thugs, a ramen challenge where you have to serve noodles to dozens upon dozens of customers during rush hour and even rhythm-based dancing games. With so much diversity in the mini-games Yakuza 5 literally has something for everyone to enjoy, not unlike real life. Dozens upon dozens of hours of gameplay and no end of side-quests and missions in addition to the rich and engrossing gangster story make this title one of the best to hit the PS3 in quite a while. For once, you may just wind up ignoring your PS4 for another virtual trip to Japan.
Yakuza 5 is currently available for download through the PlayStation Network and the prequel, Yakuza 0, is also receieving a stateside release in 2016 with Yakuza 6 hot on its heels.
*Article provided by guest writer.