Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: Action
Release Date: 09/05/06
The criminal underworld is certainly a subject that we’ve become accustomed to on the PS2, the latest manifestation of note being Godfather: The Game. Sega feels that US audiences are now ready for their take on the Japanese mafia, known as the Yakuza. To keep it obvious, the game is named Yakuza.
The basic plot behind Yakuza won’t seem that interesting at first if you’ve played any one of the numerous criminally based games over the past four years or so. Players take on the role of Kiryu Kazuma. Once a part of the Japanese mafia, he’s just been released after serving a ten year prison sentence. Unsurprisingly, the player will need to help regain respect and power within the Yakuza. It’s not going to be easy since Kiryu has been out of the game for so long.
The plot may just turn out to be a driving feature of Yakuza however. It is written by Hase Seishu, a well known Japanese author. Yakuza’s story will give way to plenty of drama and twists which will be revealed largely through cutscenes. Sega acquired some top Japanese actors for the voice work for the Japanese production, and they hope to get some good Hollywood actors for the US release as well.
If you’re thinking that this sounds like a GTA clone, you’re a bit off. Yakuza focuses on 3rd-person combat and RPG elements. As you roam the streets of Tokyo, you’ll encounter various enemies that will attack you. When you engage in combat, the game camera switches to a special perspective to give you a good view of the action. At first, you’ll start out with some standard kicking, punching, and grappling moves, but you’ll be able to learn several new moves by exploring the city and finding martial arts trainers. You’ll also be able to take advantage of the environment and use all kinds of objects like sandwich signs, bats, or whatever else you find lying around to bash your opponents. Kiryu will accumulate experience points that the player can use to upgrade and customize his abilities.
There won’t be any driving, but there will be several mini-games and side missions. You’ll be able to shop, gamble, and even try your hand at the batting cages among other things.
Sega is going for a very authentic feel with crowded city streets and even signage from real Japanese brands. Hopefully Yakuza will be a different take on the increasingly crowded criminal/urban sub-genre of gaming. It looks that way so far. Yakuza releases later this year, so it won’t be too long before we can find out how it turns out.