Yakuza 2
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega Europe
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1
Words By:

It’s been out for over 2 years in Japan now but Yakuza 2 is only now just hitting European shores. I can’t understand why it has taken so long but rest assured for fans it is definitely worth the wait.

Yakuza 2 picks up a year after the events of the original brawler with Kazuma Kiryu back in the picture after leaving his life of crime at the end of the last game. Without giving too much away, he ends up being called back to help out his old clan after a truce is broken, and in turn redeem his old ways. On paper the story is cliché but in practice it has that epic feel that so few games ever achieve. The story is written in such a way that it feels like a high-quality Japanese crime flick. The top-notch voice acting (all in its native tongue this time) and the vast array of sub-plots and story twists all make the game especially appealing if like me you’re a fan of Asian cinema. The story really is that good.

It’s a shame that new features and gaming styles to go with the new plot are absent. The game is almost identical to its predecessor, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the original was so much fun. It all boils down to lots of walking around, talking to people on the street, doing side-quests and of course kicking the crap out of the local lowlifes.

Yakuza 2’s combat is initially just down to button bashing but the RPG elements of the game allow you to gain experience and unlock new moves and abilities. Score enough hits on your enemies and you’ll enter ‘heat’ mode. Here you can grab enemies and perform powerful wall smashes or crack them over the head with the many signs and planks of wood you find. Some may say it lacks depth, but it is satisfying and progression does add challenge. It would’ve been nice if something new could have been added but in the end it all feels overly familiar. Still, it is easy to get into and for the most part you rarely get bored of smacking someone’s head on the concrete.

The majority of your time in the game will be spent running through the neon lit streets on fetch quests for the various locals. These can get tiresome, as essentially you’ll be repeating the same task over and over but there are other distractions to keep you interested. The hostess bars are back where you can indulge in a spot of dating should you choose, as well as Mahjong tables and of course the Sega Arcade where you can play the soft toy grabbing machines or fighting games. These aren’t up to Shenmue’s standard but are there should you get bored of the main story.

From a visual point of view and taking into account the hardware, Yakuza 2 is rather pretty. The garish lighting and bustling streets look impressive, but there can be moments of pop-up when things get busy and you’ll see the odd pedestrian getting stuck on bits of scenery. There are also quite a few loading screens but you can almost forgive these faults when a game is so well presented. The camera however is still as frustrating as it was in the original. Often you’ll end up running in the wrong direction when the perspective changes. This could have been rectified I feel but regardless you’ll end up working you way around such problems.

Yakuza 2 is another welcome addition to the PS2 library and despite being a little rough around the edges it still has enough to make it worthy of a purchase if you can drag yourself away from the so-called ‘next-gen’ gaming that is. Let’s hope this title doesn’t pass too many people by.

Best Bits

- Well-written story-line
- Accessible and enjoyable combat system
- Decent voice acting
Worst Bits

- Repetitive 'fetch & carry' quests
- Frequent loading screens
- Too similar to the original?

by: Pedro

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