Review: Yakuza 0

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The Yakuza series arrives to the Playstation 4 with a blast, that’s it Yakuza 0. This is not a sequel but a prequel of the titles originally released in the Playstation 2. By the first time we have the chance to play as two known characters, the usual protagonist Kazuma Kiryu and by the first time Goro Majima from the Shimano family. The game take us back to the 80’s and will let us know the origins of these popular characters and how they came to be “The Dragon of Dojima” and “the Mad Dog of the Shimano Family”.

CABARET

Story
The game is divided in two stories, one for each of the main characters, Kazuma Kiryu and this time around also Goro Majima, without spoiling much Kiryu is framed for murder, trying to clean the name of Kazama and his own name as he tries to survive the attacks of the Dojima family. Majima is involved in an equally convoluted predicament, deciding if he must kill or save a girl to be able to go back to the family or get killed in the process. The dual story is intense and you can feel it as you progress throught the game.

Gameplay
Being a sort of brawler the combat in the game is top notch, giving you 3 different styles for each protagonist, Kiryu gets the Brawler, Rush and Beast. While Majima gets Thug, Slugger and Breakdancer. You basically get one style for balanced stats, one for speed and a third for raw power, this last one allowing you to use boxes, bicycles, and other items lying around in the streets as weapons to smash them in your opponents. The variety in fighting styles is quite good and allows the player to select that one that fits their playing style.

Evading/blocking and gaining heat to perform combos are important parts of the combat mechanics, not taking damage give you a bonus, so does performing combos for extra cash at the end of the fights and encounters. You want to get the most moolah from these fights after all.

KIRYU BATTLE

Got a bit beat up in the fights or encounters? Go to a bar or a restaurant, get drunk and enjoy some japanese cuisin to regain your HP.

Even though the game is not an open world, you have enough to explore and discover in the world of Yakuza 0, as i was running and roaming around, was hard not meet and talk with characters to unlock a substory in every turn as i was trying to progress with the main storyline. Of course is up to you to decide if you wish to continue or leave these alternate quests for a later time, but certainly adds a lot of content to the game, enhancing the gameplay, lore and more.

If substories (or side quests as i call them) are not enough for you, the game gives you a lot and i mean it, A LOT of mini games to sink time as you have fun with them (except fishing, fishing is quite boring).

Love rhythm games? Yakuza 0 got you covered, if you have played some of the Hatsume Miku games you know what to expect here. You will have karaoke bars and a nice array of songs (Accompanied by a funny video, you will love and have a good laugh watching Kiryu and Majima in these videos, believe me) and you can have a dance off in the disco, these are two of the most fun mini games.

Rhythm is not your cup of tea? You have batting boxes, Mini 4WD racing, Bowling, Cat Fights to bet money as you play paper rocks scissor games, Shogi, Mahjong, Phone clubs to get dates and more, much more.

Tired to fight goons and yakuza in the streets? Go to a SEGA Arcade and waste money with UFO Catchers or why not play some of the classics, Space Harrier and Out Run, this was an awesome surprise and a love letter to the fans of SEGA, kudos for that!

ARCADE

Fighting thugs and goons will not be your only source of income, Kiryu will be able to buy real estate and gain money by providing advice, security and more to business owners. Majima will be able to aquire cabarets and train hostesses too.

I am sure i am missing more but there is just too many activities, would be impossible to sumarize them all in here.
There is a sheer ridiculousness in the game but dont get me wrong, all in a good way, reminded me of how Saint’s Row 3 was, which really it’s a good thing, giving you many laughs several times, games that don’t take themselves so seriously are great and Yakuza 0 has a perfect balance for this

Graphics
by the most part the graphics are ok but yet feels dated, as if the game was developed for the ps3 and released in the ps4 in the last minute, man at some point i thought SEGA spent all the budget in the facial features, man you can even see the pores, look the animations as they talk, omg look the hair! While this got me impressed, because cannot be denied, the details of the expressions and facial features was top notch.

While they did a great job portraying the atmosphere of japan in the 80’s with the neon lights and the details, seem the rest of the game didnt got the same treatment as most of the main cast with the facial features, which is a real shame. If you dont pay attention to some lesser quality graphics here and there , especially the cut scenes are a joy to watch.
i am a gameplay over graphics kind of guy but some of these details was really noticeable, Including some out of place animations, bad textures, etc, it was hard to ignore.

MAJIMA BATTLE

Sound
Battle themes was intense and made your blood pump as you smash goons in the walls and streets of japan. The soundtrack for the karaoke was also good. But if i am to pick the best of the best, that must be the voice acting, with talent such as Hitoshi Ozawa as Kuze, Riki Takeuchi as Awano or Shingo Tsurumi as Sagawa just to name a few of them, this was something that made thye cutscenes memorable, awesome voice acting, especially if you are a fan of japanese tv and cinema.

Downsides
even when you have a lot of thing to do ingame, minigames, side quest and what not, you get to realize how small the world map can be, limited to one area per character. Hopefully in future releases of the saga we will get to see an open world like GTA or Saints Row. I can only imagine how awesome would be to be in a high speed car chase in the streets of Tokyo as Kiryu or Majima, maybe someday.

Voice acting was top notch, but is shame we only got that for the main cast and characters, most was just text and barely a line or two from lesser characters, like Bacchus and his engrish “Hey boy!”.

I mentioned fishing earlier in the review, among all the mini games and activities i found this to be the worst of all, the tutorial didnt explained all the mechanics properly and took me a while to find how to hook the fish, while that is indeed partially my fault. The way fish are attracted to the hook is quite a chore, this may be something they could and should improve if fishing is to make a comeback.

KIRYU

Overall
Yakuza 0 is truly a delight to play, i had a blast and I’m sure it will be the same for both, long time fans of the saga and newcomers to the world of Yakuza, especially to newcomers Yakuza 0 is an excellent point of introduction of the franchise.

Yakuza 0 offers a perfect balance between a serious and immersing storyline while substories provide an arrary of funny and comedic situations the players will enjoy to no end. No questions asked, Yakuza 0 will be among the best in the series and is worth every penny. With this said we cant wait to see what Yakuza 6 has to offer!

Giving the game an 8.5 out of 10!

Pros:
– Good Storyline
– Excellent combat mechanics
– The 80’s ambient was perfect
– tons of side quests & fun mini games

Cons:
– Graphics are a mix bag of good and bad
– Not an open world
– Lacking voice acting for some lesser characters
– Mr Shakedown hurt my feelings & stole my moolah