Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the follow up to the very well received Yakuza Kiwami, which is weird since the Kiwami series is nothing more than a remake of the original Yakuza 2 that was released back in the PlayStation 2 days. With a story as deep and action-packed as this has, it’s no wonder that Yakuza Kiwami 2 is nothing more than a great video game.
Game Name: Yakuza Kiwami 2
Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Developer(s): SEGA CS1
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Price: $59.99 (Gamestop US) / $99.95 (EB Games Australia)
The intro of the game starts in the early 1980s: A detective is chasing after somebody and witnesses a murder of a Korean mob boss who says in Korean that the killer was a lying dog and the Korean mob will live on even with the death of its boss. The murderer happens to be Kazuma Kiryu’s foster father, Shintaro Kazama (Fuma in the English versions). After Kazama runs off, the detective checks on the man who tells him in Japanese that his child is in danger just before he dies. The detective heads in the direction the man pointed and notices a fire. The detective finds a room where a Korean woman is alone with a baby. The woman tries to throw the baby out the window but instead leaves the baby with the detective. Time then moves to a year after Yakuza. Since then, the Tojo Clan has been falling apart and they are on the brink of war against the Osaka-based gang, the Omi Family, the gang backing Akira Nishikiyama in the first game. As a last resort, the Tojo Clan requests their former leader, Kazuma Kiryu (4th Chairman) for their help. Kazuma Kiryu and Haruka Sawamura are living a peaceful life and they visit the graves of Yumi Sawamura, Akira Nishikiyama, and Shintaro Kazama. There, the appointed Chairman, Yukio Terada, a former member of the Omi Family, asks for Kazuma Kiryu’s aide. The Omi Family quickly act and assassinate their former family member Terada and Kiryu heads out for Osaka to find a peaceful solution and prevent an all-out gang war across Japan from happening.
In order to protect the Tojo, Kiryu recruits his former comrade Daigo Dojima to replace Terada. However, Daigo decides to accompany Kiryu to Osaka during the clan’s meeting to settle a score with the Omi. While in Osaka, Kiryu meets his Kansai equivalent and new rival, Ryuji Goda, the son of the head of the Omi Family, Jin Goda. Though enemies, Ryuji seems to hold a genuine respect for Kiryu and holds him in regard as his equal, hence necessary to vanquish Kiryu as Ryuji believes there’s only room for one Dragon in Japan. In the aftermath of the meeting, Jin Goda and Daigo are kidnapped while Kiryu is arrested by the detective Kaoru Sayama who is actually trying to keep him safe as his death would trigger a war. While working with Kaoru and his old friend Makoto Date, Kiryu learns of a Korean mafia group, the Jingweon, which is responsible for kidnapping Daigo and Jin. With help of his allies, Kiryu rescues Daigo and learns more about the Jingweon.
A new scenario exclusive to Kiwami 2, “The Truth of Goro Majima”, explains how Majima came to leave the Tojo Clan (following the death of his patron, Futoshi Shimano, a year earlier) and form a legitimate enterprise, “Majima Construction”, between Yakuza and Yakuza 2. The game also features the return of Makoto Makimura, a major character of Majima’s story in Yakuza 0.
The gameplay doesn’t really break the mold when it comes to how things are done. Mostly you will spend time walking around one of the many recreated pseudo-Japanese cities and doing fetch or beat’em up quests while moving the story forward at the same time. Outside of these things you will go drinking, spend times in Hostess bars, play video games and other side quest and distraction activities. When the name of the game is kicking ass, for the most part, you don’t really need to change anything. The action system consisting of punch, kick, grapple and special moves are so simple that they are perfection. I’m not too sure what to write about Yakuza Kiwami 2‘s gameplay as it is just what you expect from the game series at this point. It doesn’t add anything new to the mix but doesn’t take anything away either, leaving it in the same sort that it needs to be in. I’m so happy that for once a company understands the approach of “If it isn’t broken, then do not fix it”.
Graphically, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is AMAZING! From the smoothness in the clothing to the great facial animation, the characters stand out so much in this game. Even my girlfriend, who like to watch games when I’m playing them, said that this game does something that no other video games seem to do right: capture the eyes. In video games, for the most part, characters look extremely real in every representation except the eyes, which usually end up looking void of life. In Yakuza Kiwami 2, the eyes of the characters look deep and have soul. They express a lot more intensity than most highly captured Western games like Detriot, which features some of the most human looking CGI captures in modern times. But here, I think we have a winner over Detroit for most expressive characters in a video game.
Then there are the areas around you. Yakuza Kiwami 2, just like most of the modern Yakuza games, manages to make an amazing recreation of a somewhat different Japan. This is done on purpose as getting the Japanese Government to sign off on a company to use the actual maps and areas of places like Akiba and Tokyo are hard to obtain, and since this is a game about gangsters, while the city is a representation of different locations in Japan. However, when it comes to portraying that lively look and electric buzz that some of these areas represent is simply phenomenal. From dank dark side streets and alleyways to the bright and inviting exteriors of flashy hotels and restaurants, Yakuza Kiwami 2 just makes everything look alive. A big help to that look of the city areas feeling alive is that there are people EVERYWHERE. Sometimes there are upwards of 40+ people in one area and the game does not slow down or graphically chug at any rate. This is a testament to SEGA CS1’s programming skills and the Dragon Engine. Yes, the very same game engine that powered Yakuza 6. It’s a technological masterpiece to say the least.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is as Japanese as it comes. Thankfully SEGA outright refuses to allow an English voice track in this game and I think that if they added one, it would kill off the overall vibe that the game gives. Walking around the cities listening to people call out to you to come to see a shop (Though mostly it’s through silent text boxes, though sometimes generic phrases can be heard) or just the grumbles of other gangs of people before they attack you is just great to hear. Otherwise, you are left with the sounds of the street, the clinking of bottles, the metallic ping of bikes getting knocked over, to generic sounds of video games or pachinko machines being played in clubs around you just add to the whole feel that these cities are alive with people at all times.
When you enter some places, you might hear traditional greetings of “Welcome!” from a Hostess or Barman, but there is no real soundtrack for things unless it’s in an action sequence or a cutscene. While most people would see this as a bad thing, I’m someone who prefers this method of letting the streets ambiance be the soundtrack over having some fun sounding city theme or something playing under your adventures. When the soundtrack does kick in, it makes the fights you are apart of so much more kick ass, making things seem much more like a scene from a movie or something. Again, Yakuza Kiwami 2 finds a way to make the normal and make it amazing.
It’s not often that I would find myself spending time with side quests or little distraction pieces in a video game. Personally, I find them to be annoying and an artificial way to extend the time you spend playing the game. In Yakuza Kiwami 2, I’ve found that those distractions are just as much fun as walking around the streets beating the shit out of small groups of people. For example, you have A mini-game in a bathroom of all places that are basically Sumo Wrestling but with piss streams instead of using your bodies. This mini-game requires a lot of management for your resource (aka, your urine) and when to use it in a hard and fast stream or a slow and steady stream; masterful work for something that no one would think about doing for hours. But of course this is nothing to the full-blown recreations of classic SEGA games; this time around the games are Virtual Fighter 2.1 & Virtua-On, the second of which was one of my favorite arcade games to play in the 90s.
Now while these versions don’t really capture the feel of the arcade versions since you’re using a controller and all, but they are great additions to this game and a welcome distraction. I’d also recommend spending some time with Darts and the crane games too as they are just as much about skill as they are in real life. My only annoyance is that with such a rich arcade history that SEGA only allowed 2 full games in Yakuza Kiwami 2 while other games have about 3-4 games in them to choose from.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a testament to good programming mixing extremely well with great storytelling. This series of games continues to bring the best that SEGA has to offer and honestly, I cannot wait for the remake of Yakuza 3 to hit eventually… We all know it’s coming. With luck, we might be able to play all of the Yakuza series on the PlayStation 4.
Review Disclosure Statement: Yakuza Kiwami 2 was provided to us by SEGA for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Kick ass all the time!
Yakuza kiwami 2 shows exactly what happens when a good story meets good gameplay… Perfection. You’ll spend hours of your life playing the main game, then another half of your life just doing the exciting and awesome side missions and distraction events. Any game that makes taking a piss into an action filled experience deserves the highest of praise.
- Gameplay that remains unchanged because it doesn’t need to be changed.
- Side distractions that are not only fun, but challenging.
- Some of the best cities with a live population in a video game ever.
- Limited vocal work in cities.
- Early game has a huge difficulty spike.
- Needs more than 2 retro SEGA games.
- Loading times can be excessive at times.