Only a Dragon Can Stay
When it comes to remakes of classic games, the ideal goal should be to improve aspects of the source material that were lacking due to technological limitations. While taking some liberties with action and structure, I still feel that Yakuza Kiwami is the best way to witness the beginning of Kiryu Kazuma's journey. It adds more content, polishes the presentation and is easily available at a discount price.
However, Yakuza 2 is often considered the absolute best entry in Kiryu's history. With a jazzy soundtrack, a gloomy atmosphere and some great side characters, tinkering with every aspect of the package would be a sacrilege for a certain number of fans. If you're hoping for a one-to-one replica of Kiryu's second outing with Kiwami 2 you'll be disappointed. However, if you let go of your yearning for the original, you will find a package that is more accomplished and polished than its inspiration.
It really depends on what you are looking for. Yakuza Kiwami 2 (PS4 [reviewed with a PS4 Pro])
Published by: Sega
Published: December 7, 201
MSRP: $ 49.99
Yakuza 2 (and thus Kiwami 2 ) occupies Year after the events of the first game. The protagonist of the series, Kiryu Kazuma, visits the grave of his father figure, Kazama Shintaro, when the fifth chairman of the Tojo clan, Terada Yukio, comes to him with a request. Terada needs Kiryu to prevent a war between the Tojo and the Omi alliance after the events of a year. Before Kiryu can actually achieve the situation, assassins and Terada come and force Kiryu's hand in this matter.
What follows is a storyline that has a tremendous amount of twists and turns and finally sees how Kiryu Goda faces Ryuji, a fan favorite villain. Goda is a man who basically wants to see the world burn and tries to find his way to the top of the ladder to be the only true dragon in Kamurocho ( Yakuza main setting). His hand in the matter is revealed much later in the story after some shocking revelations that most people will see a mile away.
The summary of the plot of Yakuza 2 is difficult mainly because of the way. New characters are introduced quite regularly to the middle and their roles in the story alternate between chapters. The policeman who arrests Kiryu, Sayama Kaoru, is very similar to Goda, as she is instrumental in getting Kiryu into action, but she is under-utilized. In fact, that could be said for a lot of Yakuza 2 story.
It tries to build Goda as a menacing villain, but he is only present for five of the 16 chapters of the game. In fact, you kick his ass in Chapter Four and he disappears for another four chapters, just to tell you that he gives you a deadline. After that, he basically went to the end and I'm completely confused about why someone is in love with him. He has an interesting background story, sure, but he does not feel like an ultimate threat to Kiryu.
Sayama also starts out wild and wild, but slowly erodes her as the game unleashes all sorts of wild developments in her direction. Towards the middle, she begins to develop feelings for Kiryu, but then she brings the information about her past back to her original self, withholding information from Kiryu just to trigger a showdown. If there was any aspect of the original game that I had hoped for Kiwami 2 so it was how bloated the main plot is.
This is not the worst story that the Yakuza series has ever told. It's not even bad, just something that feels more like a soap opera than the first game or a few others that would follow. If you can stop reading between the lines, you might even be shocked by some of the twists that happen. For me, having played all the other games in the series before, I saw all the revelations long before they happened.
How Every Fan Will Tell You But Yakuza is not just about his plot or dramatic twists. The main thrust with this series is how it knows when to shut up and be a video game that gives you ample opportunity to hit clubs or enjoy the sights and sounds of Japan. In an interesting mirror, Kiwami 2 is an improvement over Yakuza 6 similar to Yakuza 2 Aspects of the original Yakuza
Initially, the Type of swimming and base combat from Yakuza 6 in Kiwami 2 sharply tightened. Kiryu could still fool around when attacked, but his moves feel faster overall and his combos are interrupted much less than his PS4 debut. The upgrade system still lacks coherent progress, but now there are characters in the game world who teach you how to move and make your development more organic. This is not Kiryu, who happens to remember a heat reaction, but learns by watching videos, taking lessons from his teacher (a returning Komaki), or helping civilians in distress.
Both Kamurocho and Sotenbori feel much more concretized than the populated cities Yakuza 6 . Kamurocho has a fully restored Champion District, complete with additional bars and side quests, and the underground Coliseum returns to give you more ways to further improve Kiryu. If that was not enough, old mini-games make a return to some of the content presented in Yakuza 6 . There is even a playable version of Virtual-On at Club Sega, which is simply unbelievable.
I'm really impressed with how the "Clan Creator" mode of 6 got worse, but the rest of Kiwami 2 feels like that Game Yakuza 6 could have gotten more development time. Kiryu has more heat actions (the series' finishing moves), the game looks a bit smoother (on both the Pro and Base models), and the overall appearance is more like the classic Yakuza as the changes. 6 according to the formula
About the only aspect that could be said Kiwami 2 wavers the depiction of its history. Speech output is far better, but each cutscene uses the same method as the first Kiwami . Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios copied the exact camera moves and animations from the PS2 game and popped them into this new engine. If you respect the original cinematic direction, it still makes certain moments.
Then there's the change in the soundtrack, which is not as dramatic as some people think. While some cutscenes exchange the tunes in a way that even I can not defend, the majority of Kiwami 2 OST consists of remixes of Yakuza 2 . In particular, "Outlaw's Lullaby" feels a lot more extreme and the final fiery melody brings a sense of finality and attitude that was absent in the original. Perhaps this hurts the overall atmosphere of the PS2 classic, but it does not feel out of place for a Yakuza game (apart from the really awful credit song of Japanese reggae metal band SiM).
As for issues with Kiwami 2 they reflect the same problems that the original Yakuza 2 had. There are no unlockable battles, bowling and pool are absent and some of the games of chance are MIA. That was also a problem in Yakuza 2 (which did not contain karaoke!), But you'd think a remake could correct that.
If you are also a purist, then you will be incredibly angry at the removal of the "Shinseicho" region. I would not call it crucial to the experience, but it is disappointing to condense a particular district into the backyards of Sotenbori. The Yakuza series has always doubled as digital tourism and brought less exploration. At least Sotenbori is bigger than its original incarnation, but explorable roofs do not really replace the Tsutenkaku tower.
All this and I have not even mentioned the inclusion of the "Majima Saga" story. Entirely new in Kiwami 2 the players get a short story from three chapters explaining Majima's exit from the Tojo clan before the events of Yakuza 2 . With the return of Makimura Makoto from Yakuza 0 this short narrative feels for the main story of Yakuza 2 .
even worse on me much of the cheap DLC we saw in the early 360 / PS3 era. Majima lacks any development and is so overwhelmed that all encounters simply go into button-mashing. While you can still take mini-games to earn money, you'll always fall over items during the events of this distraction. All the side activities feel senseless and mostly as something that could have been explained during the main game in a single cutscene.
At least, Majima's chapters are not interspersed with the main campaign. You unlock next to your progress to play in your spare time, so it does not bother the river. You can even ignore what I almost did before writing this review. Although it's nice to see new content, this is one aspect of Kiwami 2 that feels crowded.
Overall, I think that my feelings are held back on Kiwami 2 by the play Yakuza 2 . Maybe I've done a disservice by playing all later posts first, but Yakuza 2 feels like a relic from a bygone era. Rebuilding it on an engine that is not fully exploited does not make the best remake. However, if you can look past some flaws, you'll find a yakuza experience that fans will surely love.
For my money, the best way to experience this particular story is to improve enough of the game to sink for a great time. Perhaps certain aspects may have been optimized to stay more faithful to the source material, but the worst thing that could happen is that you end up wanting to play the original to see the changes first-hand. That's not such a terrible result.
[ This review is based on a publisher-supplied game version.]
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Yakuza Kiwami 2 reviewed by Peter Glagowski
Solid and definitely has an audience. There might be some hard to ignore mistakes, but the experience is fun.
How we score: The destructoid experience reports