Yakuza Kiwami 2 (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 19.08.2020

Review for Yakuza Kiwami 2 on PC

With eight main-line game releases and countless spin-offs, the Yakuza series has very much transitioned from a niche Japanese export into a fully-fledged cult franchise these days. Focused around the character of Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima, this tour of Tokyo and beyond tells a tale of the trials and tribulations of the yakuza in Japan, in an action adventure beat 'em up. Originating on the PlayStation 2 back in 2006, SEGA has followed up on its plan to remake the original titles with a modern twist, with the releases of the Kiwami line of games. Kickass street combat, brutal combos, betrayal and twists galore - alongside an added dose of Japanese quirkiness - Yakuza Kiwami 2 has finally seen a release on the Windows 10 store and Xbox One, after originally coming to PC in 2019. Included on the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, it can also be bought individually on the store for £17.99.

Coming in fresh to a sprawling series like this is always a challenge. Known for a hefty cast of characters, and more betrayals and twists than the average season of Game of Thrones, Yakuza Kiwami 2 picks up directly after the events of the original. Thankfully, a helpful introductory recap covers those main plot points, and the player picks up a year after a brutal clan war engulfed Tokyo over a missing 10 billion. Now back in the service of the Tojo Clan, Kazuma is tasked with brokering peace between them and Osaka's powerful Omi Alliance with the nefarious Ryuji Goda, and his quest for authority and power standing in the way. Meanwhile of course, the police are in the background, as violence once again threatens to engulf the city.

On the face of it, it all seems rather heavy and convoluted, but one of the best things this series does is to tell a complex story in an engaging way, and this is no different. In many ways, things here are a lot more like a real smart Japanese crime noir, with characters motivations and decisions not portrayed in simple "video game logic," but explored with craft and care. Instead, developers SEGA took real care to make sure this portrayal of yakuza melodrama was as authentic as possible. In Kiwami 2 it also added to it with a separate scenario, 'The Majima Saga;' bridging the gap between an important character in the chronology.

Screenshot for Yakuza Kiwami 2 on PC

While the rivalry between Kazuma and Goda in Kiwami 2's main plot makes for a great grounding zone for the sprawling 60-hour adventure, in many ways it is the more subtle moments during the police investigations or the relationships inside the Tojo Clan that make the narrative all the more engaging. The moments when characters are talking and twists are coming. That authentic engagement is of course helped by the authentic Japanese performances of the voice cast, and general true-to-life ambiance created by the sound design. The series has long since abandoned any option for an English dub (indeed only the first title did), and frankly this is a positive, as the Japanese cast does such a stellar job in really delivering the immersion required to tell this tale in a serious way. That said, things don't have to always be serious.

One of the facets the franchise is known for is also embracing the more light-hearted aspects of Japanese city culture. The vision of Tokyo and Osaka on show here is one that delivers humour in abundance away from the gritty main plot. From finding a tissue for a sick man on the street, posing for model photo-shoots, to winning someone a prize at an arcade grabbing machine, the range of side quests Kazuma helps with is a brilliant way to switch up the pace of things, and show off some of the many mini-games in this open world. While the side quests are not voiced, nor feature action-packed cut-scenes, they do a marvellous job of bringing to life a whole range of other characters. Clearly one of the reasons for the Kiwami games was an attempt by SEGA to modernise what are now decade-old titles from multiple generations of console ago. Primarily this was through the graphics, which have now been enhanced in a whole new way.

Screenshot for Yakuza Kiwami 2 on PC

This has mostly succeeded, with the main characters looking well detailed, some very neat effects such as the way the glass shatters, alongside a rock-solid optimised PC performance. That said, in the moment to moment, this is not a game that will blow anyone away with textures or lighting. The strain of something released in 2006 originally still comes through, with detail lacking in many areas of the presentation. Grass, water, buildings - they all can seem a little rough around the edges. It is also an issue with the general UI, which is a tad out of date in the amount of menus that have to be flicked through.

Irritatingly, in order to quit to the desktop, it also requires an inexplicable amount of menus and time, with no option to do so directly from the start menu. The whole process could have been streamlined much better. Frankly, though all that said, it doesn't particularly detract from the minute to minute gameplay, and some of the best aspects of the graphics simply come in the atmosphere Yakuza Kiwami 2 manages to deliver in its representation of a bustling Japanese city-street, with tens and hundreds of pedestrians milling around and the neon-glow of signs all around.

Screenshot for Yakuza Kiwami 2 on PC

It is a city players will get to see plenty of, as they tread these interesting streets. The series has always been known for its mini-games and distractions. Included here is everything from karaoke, golf, pool, and even an in-game port of Virtua Fighter 2. These are brilliantly addictive time sinks, with the challenging golf and darts proving a particular personal highlight, and the bane of many hours of time in mastering them. They are not just mere busy-work either, instead actively aiding Kazuma on his quest by offering up all sorts of useful rewards and experience; experience which can then be piled into the significant ability tree, granting the Dragon of Dojima a buff in his powers during combat, and also passive buffs and enhancements when traversing the world.

It is right to finish on combat in a game well known for it. Coming in fresh, it can seem daunting, but Yakuza Kiwami 2 is very much the epitome of easy to learn and hard to master. With numerous combos to pull and systems to operate, beating up thugs and yakuza rivals might seem difficult, but it soon gets into its groove. The camera work and locking on to enemies is the main concern here, and the only slight criticism. Aside from that, it is immensely satisfying to use everything from bikes in the street, to Japanese katana in order to take down foes.

Screenshot for Yakuza Kiwami 2 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Yakuza Kiwami 2 delivers a slick fresh coat of paint onto this Japanese epic tale, while keeping the same engaging and complex story that fans know and love. A memorable narrative, and some excellent dialogue and delivery make this a story that is worth playing, even for new entrants to the franchise. Meanwhile, while there are a few blotches on the graphical presentation of this remake, Tokyo has never looked so authentic in a game before, and the atmosphere built is second to none. There are some niggles with the camera, and the slightly outdated UI, however, the combat and mini-games are of a high standard, and keep things incredibly enjoyable throughout this extensive adventure.

Developer

SEGA

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10 

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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