Yakuza Kiwami 2 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Colin Beauchamp 23.08.2018 4

Review for Yakuza Kiwami 2 on PlayStation 4

Several years after its PS2 release, Yakuza 2 has finally made its return in the form of Yakuza Kiwami 2, which brings the beloved entry onto the Dragon Engine introduced in Yakuza 6. With new mini-games, visuals, and even more, it certainly sounds like a promising package, and hopefully a successful attempt at taking a memorable experience and elevating it further. However, is it worth your time not just as a remake, but as a game in general? After an early hands-on, Cubed3 now delivers the final verdict.

The Yakuza series has always had a basic formula of beating up bad guys while being able to explore dense districts in Japan, and the same applies to Yakuza Kiwami 2. You will fight enemies in beat 'em up combat, as you mess around with the huge number of activities present to take a break from the crime drama narrative. The protagonist is Kazuma Kiryu, who will explore the districts of Kamurocho and Sotenbori over the course of the story in an attempt to prevent chaos from springing up in the yakuza underworld.

Make no mistake, though, the gameplay here has been overhauled quite a bit since Yakuza 2, due to Yakuza Kiwami 2 running on a different engine. Being able to walk into buildings without loading times or quickly transitioning into combat is a pleasant luxury, but it's a shame that being on the Dragon Engine results in frequent frame drops, even on a PS4 Pro. This feels like even more of a blunder because of the fact that certain visual effects in some areas have actually been removed from the original, like floor reflections and a crowd of people watching an important fight. Certain cut-scene animations have also been removed - nothing incredibly important, thankfully, but it will likely be noticeable to fans of the PS2 game.

Screenshot for Yakuza Kiwami 2 on PlayStation 4

There's also the RPG-esque levelling system from Yakuza 6, allowing players to slowly increase individual stats over the course of the adventure, along with learning new abilities. The combat has been refined since the last Dragon Engine entry, reintroducing series' staples, such as storable weapons and taunts, and there's a satisfying sense of progression as more and more upgrades are unlocked, especially when learning the ridiculous Heat moves, which are executed by dealing enough damage in a fight to charge up a special meter.

One thing that the Yakuza series is known for is its vast array of mini-games, and this entry stays consistent with that. From karaoke to darts, golf, and so much more, these activities help keep things refreshing amidst all the combat. Of course, there are also dozens of sub-stories to play through that throw Kiryu into interesting (and sometimes bizarre) situations that will need to be worked through. There are a fair number of both new mini-games and new sub-stories, which is appreciated.

Another noteworthy addition is a new campaign centred round fan favourite character, Goro Majima. It's not necessarily long or even all that deep, but it is a nice distraction from the main campaign that has some great moments. It's especially a treat for fans of the series, and without going into too much detail, players will likely be satisfied with it despite its very short length.

Screenshot for Yakuza Kiwami 2 on PlayStation 4

However, despite how much Yakuza Kiwami 2 adds, there's also a shocking amount of content that's either been cut or replaced. Possibly the saddest cut is how in Yakuza 2 there was actually a third area to explore, but that part of the game is gone. Mini-games and sub-stories that were in it have been shifted around so they are still there, and luckily the area itself is notably small in comparison to the other districts, but it's still a shame to see it missing since it had such a nice charm to it, and moving all its content into another part of the story just doesn't have the same effect as experiencing it the way it was integrated into the original release. It's not a deal-breaker by any means, but it's an unfortunate situation nonetheless. While a cut such as the Club Marietta mode is acceptable since it's replaced with the return of the cabaret club hosting mode from Yakuza 0, something like the Club Adam mode has no replacement, full stop.

The soundtrack is also almost entirely overhauled, with there being a staggering number of songs cut out and replaced with totally new ones. While it's a relief to see that some of the best songs stayed in and have been done justice with catchy remixes, some of the new songs simply don't fit as well as the song they are replacing. Some songs even have a completely contrasting atmosphere and tone compared to the music that was taken out for them, which makes some scenes extremely jarring as a few of these replacements are entirely out of place in terms of what's going on with the cut-scene itself, nearly ruining some moments.

Screenshot for Yakuza Kiwami 2 on PlayStation 4

There are numerous other small changes that could be discussed, but the point is that you are getting a unique (for better or worse) experience by playing Yakuza Kiwami 2, as opposed to playing the original. It's hard to judge it as a remake because of this, since at times it feels like a whole different beast. It's even more difficult due to the fact that whereas the first Yakuza game on PS2 had a lot of major issues due to being the first entry in the series, Yakuza 2 was (and still is) a fantastic experience, so stating whether you should play that one or its remake isn't easy to do.

If anything, the best idea may even be to play through both at some point, because the amount of changes in Yakuza Kiwami 2 is just that large. Gamers are still getting a rollercoaster of a story, either way, along with memorable side-quests and extra activities, but people will be experiencing them in a vastly different way. It's hard to say to just skip the original due to it having a fair amount of content not present in its remake (it needs to be emphasised again that while some content has been replaced or substituted in some way, there's still a lot that's straight up gone with no replacement), but the same could be said for its PS4 counterpart, too, since that version also has its own benefits.

Screenshot for Yakuza Kiwami 2 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Yakuza Kiwami 2 is another enjoyable instalment in the series. Switching between Kamurocho and Sotenbori with there being so much to do means the action never gets stale, and the new content offers some variety that will spice things up even for people who know Yakuza 2 inside out. That said, the features that have been cut from the original are greatly missed, and the new songs just don't have the same impact as the old ones do, most of the time. It's still definitely worth a play-through if a fan of the series (or even if only recently getting into it), but it's difficult to call it the definitive version of Yakuza 2.






Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


I'll never forgive the lack of Kuroi Kizuato no Buruusu in Kiwami 2. Chapter 12's big moment just isn't as strong without Crazy Ken Band capturing the essence of Kiryu's arc up to that point. 

juice (guest) 24.08.2018#2

Always some hoe ass website underscoring legit good games in a market of trash just to get some clicks.

juice (guest) said:
Always some hoe ass website underscoring legit good games in a market of trash just to get some clicks.

Exactly like EDGE does...oh wait, no, they just use the full scale of 10, like we do.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

long time yakuza junkie from day 1 here.
this review is accurate and honest.

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