Yakuza Kiwami 2 Review

Another A+ Experience!!
No Complaints!!

General Info

Release Date(s):
JP PS4: December 7, 2017
NA PS4: August 28, 2018
PC: May 9, 2019
Xbox One: July 30, 2020
Original Game Yakuza 2 Release JP PS2: December 7, 2006
Rating: M 17+
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Publisher: SEGA
Platform I Played On: PC
Platform(s) Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre(s): Action, Beat ‘Em Up
Difficultly I Played On: Normal

Synopsis

Taken from Official Site
Yakuza: Kiwami 2 | Story (sega.com)

“Kazuma Kiryu thought his Tojo Clan days were behind him. He and his young ward, Haruka Sawamura, have built a peaceful life from the ashes of conflict. All it took was a single gunshot to shatter that peace. Yukio Terada, the fifth chairman of the Tojo Clan, has been assassinated. With war on the horizon, the legendary Dragon of Dojima is pulled back into the world he wanted to leave behind. “

With the Tojo Clan weakened from the events of 2005 and on the brink of war with the Omi Alliance, Kiryu himself journeys to Kansai to broker peace. But in Sotenbori, the Dragon of Kansai, Ryuji Goda, sees an opportunity: Destroy the Tojo Clan, destroy Kiryu, and become the one true dragon.

As a power struggle begins between east and west, a tragedy buried for over 20 years boils to the surface, shaking the very foundation of both organizations.

What fate awaits Kazuma Kiryu? What dark truths will be illuminated? And when two dragons have clashed, and the ashes settle over Kamurocho, who will be left standing?

First Impressions

Beware there may be minor spoilers below depending on one’s qualification of a spoiler. There are also potential minor spoilers of the events of Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami. Read at your own risk. In my opinion, this review should not spoil any new player’s experience with the game~

Disclaimer: This is my HOBBY blog with my own opinions, please take that into consideration~

After completing Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami I took a brief hiatus from the Yakuza series. Knowing that these three games released in a similar time frame it made me think that these were best played in close proximity. So after my short month-long hiatus I decided it was time to embark with another adventure with Kazuma Kiryu at the helm.

The game starts off with Kiryu and Harada (his adoptive daughter) in a cemetery honoring the memory of fallen individuals from the events of Yakuza Kiwami. This allows a newcomer (or returnee) to watch a recap of all the important events that occurred in Kiwami. I liked that they had this feature because the events in Kiwami 2 are heavily linked to characters established in Kiwami and in some cases Yakuza 0.

After the introduction that is when the relative calm life Kiryu and Harada had been living for the past year is put on hold due to the assassination of the Tojo Clan’s fifth chairman. This essentially flips the Yakuza world upside down and Kiyru is once again involved in Yakuza affairs and is determined to help the current and dire situation.

The situation evolves into parlaying and getting involved with the Omi Alliance, the rival yakuza organization predominant in the Kansai region (Tojo clan is the Kanto region). The alliance was mentioned and featured in both previous games but they take a considerably more significant role throughout the events of Kiwami 2. To put it mildly, things do not go as planned and the Omi alliance is a major antagonist for Kiryu and his associates.

The situation is less personal to Kiryu than the story in Kiwami. While Kiryu does have people he’s close with, let’s just say that none of the major villains are not his former close childhood friend. With this lack of the situation being extremely personal for Kiryu, the story is focused on containing what would turn out to be a chaotic situation in Kamurocho. Many of the events are contingent on a past event that Kiryu was moderately privy to but not directly involved in.

I don’t want to spoil much more of the story because I think Yakuza Kiwami 2, like its predecessors has a strength in its story telling and it is best experienced with minimal spoilers. I can say that story wise I think of the three games I have played it is the second best (Yakuza 0 being first). The story has a decent pace and everything falls into place. I was fully invested in the storyline and was really tempted to plow through game just to experience the story just as I had done for the events of the previous two games.

The game takes place primarily in Kamurocho and Sotenbori. Kamurocho is of course the area where the bulk of the story occurs but there are some interesting sequences that take place in Sotenbori. Since Kiwami only took place in Kamurocho it was exciting to be able to go back to Sotenbori, where half of Yakuza 0 took place. I thought the division and tasks between the two locations was appropriate.

One thing I noticed is that the areas we could explore in both Kamurocho and Sotenbori were limited in comparison to the previous games. There was an area in Sotenbori we could previously access and now we were barred from going there. Kamurocho also had an area that was barred that had some stores we could access to in the previous games, I guess the story didn’t call for the luxury goods store La Marche. I was a bit sad to not be able to go down that road at all in the entirety of the game. I still praise the game for having a fully realized neighborhood to explore but it was noticeable that they had intentionally cut out areas that were previously accessible.

In this game the localization wasn’t as noticeable as the past few games. There are some moments when I think the English translation is considerably harsher in words than what’s being said in Japanese. Of course, with my rusty Japanese I only understand some things but there are instances where the English comes off much more aggressive than what is being spoken in Japanese. For example, there was one moment where a character should have stated something along the lines of “You’re the guy” and then it would say “you’re that bastard” I was thinking there was no usage of the word bastard. Now maybe I missed something in the context but in instances like this it felt like the English was much more aggressive especially with the non-yakuza affiliated characters (would they even be talking in heavy slang to strangers with the way Japanese society works, I highly doubt it).

The names are still reversed from how they are said in Japanese. I think I’ve gotten used to it by now but sometimes I still have to pause and think because what’s being said isn’t the word order on the screen. I didn’t notice any names being shortened or different sounding from the audio to translation. Thank goodness because that was frustrating in the earlier two games.

All in all, I really enjoyed this game and think the story was well crafted and it held my interest throughout the entirety of the game. I didn’t plow through it as fast as the first two because I was adamant in completing the host club and construction mini games’ story lines. I took a few days hiatus to complete all of those and then continued to plow through the story. I can honestly say that save for a few side quests and stories the main plot of the game is exciting and keeps you entertained for the entirety of the game. Once again, never a dull moment in the Yakuza series!

Side Quests & Mini Games

Numerous Fun Minigames // Host Club & Tactical Mini Games // Side Stories Average

This game had many mini games that have been present in previous games. The most memorable new mini game for me was the golfing range in Sotenbori. There were many returnees of mini games such as arcade games, the CLAW GAME, card games, karaoke, mahjong, batting range, and darts. I was saddened that we no longer had bowling as a mini game since that was a favorite of mine.

This game brought back the host club mini game that was in Yakuza 0. I loved that mini game and was happy to see a return in this game. Everything about the host club game is similar to the one in Yakuza 0. It felt like an homage to the previous host club game with the same game mechanics and a similar and nostalgic storyline attached to the host club.

The mini game that was featured in Kamurocho is connected to a construction company and how there are people clamoring for control of the project. This mini game replaces the (somewhat boring) real estate mini game featured in Yakuza 0. It is a tactical game where you control players and protect construction assets from goons of competitors. This mini game was somewhat hard and I thought I was at a point of no return in Chapter 10 and took a break from the main story and spent two nights playing this mini game. I don’t play tactical games like this too often so it was a thrill when I finally beat all the levels!~

The side stories were a mixed bag for me. Many were fun to complete and had an entertaining story. Some just felt bland and didn’t have a memorable quality to them. Let’s just say I would see what the mini story was about and if it didn’t intrigue me I wouldn’t go out of my way to complete it.

There are no friendship meters in the game but for certain characters of the side stories you can get bonusses in battle if you are in the proper location to trigger a special scene. Other than that there isn’t much additional content in the side story department. They are there for the people that want them.

The Characters

Dynamic // Appropriate // New & Returning Characters

In this game we have a few returning characters from the previous games alongside newly introduced characters. The Yakuza series features a substantial cast and Yakuza Kiwami 2 is no exception. There are characters that are prominent in the story while others are important but take more of a supporting role.

Each character has his/her own ambitions and background and Yakuza Kiwami 2 does a good job in presenting multifaceted characters. You know that these characters have a life outside of the current situation and appear to not confined or defined by the game’s story. Like the other games, I can see life continuing on after the game’s events for many of the characters.

The villains are varied in this game and in the typical Yakuza series fashion there are twists and turns along the way. The main villain is a bit simplistic in that he wants power and is unwilling to forfeit his power and control. I don’t fault this simplicity, in fact sometimes villains should be that. I think in the Yakuza series there’s much emphasis on “we are simple men; we fight our problems with fists” attitude and that is in tune with the villains in this game.

I really enjoyed some of Kiyru’s closer associates in this game. The returnee characters were fun to see and the newer characters were able to compete with the nostalgic ones. I really don’t have any complaints of the execution of any of the game’s characters.

We do have a return of Majima in this game and I really liked how they portrayed him in this game opposed to Kiwami. He seems to have mellowed out a bit while maintaining the craziness established in Kiwami. I think this was a good balance for the people that liked his character in Yakuza 0 while accepting the fact that he is crazy in Kiwami. I thought he felt less explicitly comedic relief and offered substance alongside entertainment.

Our Protagonist: Kazuma Kiryu

Classic Kiryu // A Simple Man // Always Fun to Play as Kiryu

Once again we are in sole control of Kazuma Kiryu. Kiyru at his core is the same guy he has been in the previous two games: a good-natured man who solves things via his fists. I think he does feel a bit more mature and the experiences of the last two games have shaped him as a person.

I will say part of his charm is that he’s easy going and goes with the flow while still having that element of “dumb” or portraying the common man. I don’t mean this as an insult but let’s face it, he’s no mastermind or genius. He follows his heart and instincts which matches his overall saga thus far.

All I can say is that is has been fun to play as Kiyru once again. If you have played the first two games this game should not be a disappointment in the protagonist department!

Majima Saga

Majima // Fun Short Story // Closure

This is a mini story featuring Majima that is three chapters long. This was a new addition to Kiwami 2 and not present in the original Yakuza 2. This short story features Majima and a series of events that brings some closure to questions that Yakuza 0 fans may have while giving some context to the events that occur in Kiwami 2. The chapters unlock as you progress through the game’s main story.

I really liked playing as Majima again. I have said that in Yakuza 0 his story stole the show so it was nice to have, albeit small, amount of content surrounding Majima. It was fun to experience this mini story and was fun to play as an agile fighter once again (sorry Kiryu). It was a nice throwback and homage to the events of Yakuza 0. This story was clearly meant for the people who played that game. It was nice to see closure and simply play as Majima once more time.

Gameplay

Gamepads // Fighting Controls & Weaponry // Similar Yet Different to Past Games

Options: Controller & Keyboard

Once again from the get-go the game states that “real yakuza use a gamepad” so I complied and used my controller exclusively for my playthrough. Since I listened I never had any issue with the controls of the game. The controller works!~

So, this game featured a gameplay style that felt very similar to Judgment. The battles felt less clunky than the previous two games. In this game we didn’t have the fighting styles that were previously part of the fighting mechanics. This time I would assume we only have the dragon style featured in Kiwami. I felt less slow playing as Kiryu and liked that we were able to grab objects without the worry of a specific fighting style.

I am really glad we didn’t have the Majima Everywhere component when raising our fighting techniques. While I get that it had a purpose in Kiwami for gaining fighting skills I am really glad they didn’t try to reiterate that method in this game. It was really nice to go back to the standard thugs, nouveaux rich, and challenge fights instead of Majima following you around Kamurocho.

One thing that I found hilarious is that when fighting enemies once dead they seemed to defy physics. It was really funny seeing enemies or even Kiryu turn into a ragdoll when hit. At first, I was a bit weirded out since the other games didn’t have physics defying bodies but I grew to find it really funny and it added to the kookiness and humor present in the game.

I really liked the weapon and armor inventory system in this game. We could actually grab and store weapons during battles and could equip a maximum of three weapons to utilize during battle. Each weapon had a set number of hits. Once you ran out of hits you could go and get your weapons fixed when in Kamurocho (I couldn’t find a guy to fix my weapons in Sotenbori). In this game weapons were an easy way to activate the special moves and I appreciated we could equip various weapons during and after battle.

The game features the typical health and heat bar. We can once again replenish the two with various medicines or food items throughout the game. It is similar to the health and heat bars in the previous games and Judgement’s system.

In this game we can save anytime and anywhere. This was nice and easy if you needed to quit the game quickly. I am rather sad they didn’t have an alternative like the phone booths in Kiwami. It would have brought back a bit of nostalgia.

Graphics, Artistic/Aesthetic Style, & Ambience

Love exploring Kamurocho & Sotenbori // NPCs // Detailing & Vertical Exploration!

Once again, the Yakuza series delivers wonderful aesthetics and detail via the neighborhoods of Kamurocho and Sotenbori. I think these two neighborhoods had much detail and consistency felt like we were in a vibrant city neighborhood that was alive. It was fun to see how the Sotenbori neighborhood evolved since the events of Yakuza 0. I liked being able to explore two neighborhoods that were familiar yet new.

I think this game had the best NPC variance. I never noticed one prominent NPC being reused over and over again. I think the outfits are a bit toned down so they blend in with the city. It was nice to not be immediately to pick out that one token NPC you see everywhere on the streets.

I think of the three games this one had the most immersive experience in part that we now have more vertical exploration in comparison to the previous two games. This is a big addition to the overall construction of the neighborhoods. Like the street level facades each vertical building hosts unique store fronts, signage, architecture, and clutter. I liked being able to nonsensically walk up four flights of stairs simply because I could. Vertical exploration is one of the reasons I enjoyed the game Judgment so much and it was nice to see one of the main Yakuza games host this feature.

As always, I enjoyed the level of detailing in the game’s scenery. Every building gave the impression that there were different stores or companies. There were no repeats in facades and gave the illusion that every store had different clientele. I really liked that once again we saw the evolution within the yearlong time gap in the story and how there were some staple areas in tandem with new buildings and shops. It just adds to the feel of a living, breathing, and vibrant city.

Would I Recommend?

After playing the previous two instalments of the game I can say that Kiwami 2 kept the same pace and tone previously established in the other two games. I have really enjoyed playing the first three chronological games in the series. Every game, including Kiwami 2, you don’t know what twist and turns the game will give you and that is part of its charm and why it stands out in its storytelling. You enjoy the story in the moment and are ever wondering what can possibly come next.

The areas that really stood out in this game consisted of some of the following: the combat was smoother, the inventory management was vastly improved, the ability to save anywhere, and the addition of vertical exploration. These made the game stand out in comparison to its predecessors. These minor yet impactful improvements made for a smooth playthrough and made the game feel more streamlined.

I really thought the story was interesting in this game. I liked it a bit better than Kiwami which by simply judging from the synapsis I was a bit skeptical of how they would thrust Kiyru back into the Yakuza world. I think the fact that he simply wants to prevent things from going sour while also taking responsibility of the current situation is admirable. I thought the story and the various characters we met were appropriate and memorable.

I grappled with giving this game the same score as Yakuza 0, which was a 9.5/10. After some consideration I decided that while I thought many things were improved upon from the previous two games there was something about Yakuza 0 that felt special. I fully realized this when I played the Majima Saga in this game and clearly I was still more invested in the events that took place in Yakuza 0. I thought the closure we got in the three short chapters was well executed and it made me realize how impactful the story in Yakuza 0 was in comparison to both Kiwami and Kiwami 2.

It was fun exploring Kamurocho and Sotenbori once again and observe how the buildings changed over the course of three games. I have always loved the details the Yakuza series and Judgment brought and executed in their construction of their neighborhoods such as Kamurocho. It’s highly immersive and continues to prove that sometimes confined non-open world maps are perfectly acceptable and a game does not need to be an open world game in order to feel like an expansive, living, breathing, world.

I really enjoyed the variety of characters we got in this game. From the returnees to the new characters all of them felt like they belonged to the story and never felt out of place. This is one of the series strengths in how they connect various characters to the overarching story, whether it’s a major or minor influence to said story.

I wouldn’t recommend this game if you don’t like beat ‘em up games or didn’t like the first two games in the series. While this story isn’t directly related to the first two games there are references to events and characters in Kiwami. Honestly, if you played through two games and hated them don’t bother spending money on a third game that offers a similar experience

I would recommend this game if you enjoyed the first two games, want an epic and intricate story, and simply want a game based in Japan in the early 2000s. If you aren’t playing this as a continuation of the first two games I would say if you can, play the other two first. If not, there is a summary in the beginning of the game so you would know the absolute basics of what went down in Kiwami. However, I think I enjoyed this game considerably more after playing the first two games. By the time you get to Kiwami 2 there is a feeling of familiarity with the series and you are simply there for the ride. I really enjoyed playing this game and anyone who is considering playing this game or its predecessors should do so immediately! You shan’t be disappointed!~

An Indefinite End of My Yakuza Journey

After completing this game, I really liked how everything ended. I have looked into the next few games and I’m not sure if I want to dive into those games at the moment. I know a lot of people enjoy all the games but sometimes I think a story can run its course and knowing some spoilers of what’s to come I’m unsure how to feel about them. I want to keep the current feelings and memories of the first three chronological games of the series.

For all those out there who love all eight games I am glad that you do. I just really enjoyed these three and the spinoff series Judgement. Who knows, perhaps after a few years I’ll get the urge to play the next games in the series. For now, I am content with my experience of Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, and Yakuza Kiwami 2.

Haven’t Played the Previous Game?

Interested in the Spinoff Game of the Yakuza series?

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