Review: Yakuza Kiwami 2

Yakuza Kiwami 2 takes place 1 year after the explosive events of Yakuza Kiwami. Kiryu has settled into civilian life with Haruka, who he has more or less adopted at this point, and wants to live the quiet life away from the Yakuza. Major events draw him back into action to face one of his greatest, and one of the series best, antagonists Ryuji Goda who threatens not only the Tojo Clan but the entire city of Kumurucho.

With the popularity of the Yakuza series increasing in the west, after introducing it to newcomers through the releases of Yakuza 0 and Kiwami, it only makes sense to follow up the release of Yakuza Kiwami with Kiwami 2.

For the uninitiated, it will seem like I’ve just made a lot of names up. Yakuza is, obviously, set in Japan and imparts in detail it’s world upon you – particularly if you’ve played the previous games. Each one a time-consuming monster, it’s hard not to feel immersed. The benefits of remastering and re-releasing the classic Yakuza games not only gives the opportunity to flex graphical muscles but also encapsulate an entirely new audience.

Kiryu’s hometown of Kamurocho now exhibits a more teal-like tint once dusk falls. It all looks familiar but you’ll notice a lot more happening within your neon-lit surroundings as you mildly jog from stop to stop than in previous games. Subtle environmental tweaks ads to the atmosphere, with puddles and text pop-ups, which signify passers-by engaging in conversation and can afford you additional narrative clues in the process. Certain markers may lead to small pearls of wisdom along the way and overall you get a feeling of actually being part of a bustling society.

That is apart from when you start roundhouse kicking everyone in the face. Yakuza is well known for its combat and Kiwami 2 does not disappoint. A simplified system split by light and heavy attacks with different commands for dodge and block is enhanced by a deep combo system which means you’ll rarely run out of ways to mess people up. A levelling system replaces cumbersome skill trees from previous games which may annoy some but I prefer a simpler XP/levelling system personally.

The Yakuza series is also well known for its zany oddness, and it’s side-missions. There is no shortage of that here. Some are very simple such as defending a citizen from a bully. But some, well, it ranges from being part of a ‘macho’ photo shoot to being tricked by an old lady, to playing golf, darts or even old SEGA arcade classics. Maybe you want to forgo everything and concentrate on running your hostess bar, wondering what the hostesses should wear to impress customers and keep the pace of all their demands. Don’t forget to recruit new hostesses! By now, most people will have heard of the ‘adult baby fight’. Googling this isn’t even spoiling it as every time I think about it I can’t quite believe it. Very, very weird.

As a remake of Yakuza 2, it is superb and one of the better remakes available, with the new Dragon Engine first seen in Yakuza 6 adding plenty of physics. This can result in enemies flying across the road through a shop window which never ceases to be fist-pumpingly satisfying.

Along with the main story, there’s also the 3 chapter mini story for Majima (Yakuza’s resident madman) which takes place between Yakuza Kiwami 1 and 2 and sets the scene leading up to Kiwami 2s story. It’s very brief, lasts up to 3 hours at the most, but is incredibly entertaining. There are no substories or levelling up, it’s essentially story missions and fighting street bosses, but it is a nice detour from the main story thread.

One thing that remains consistent with the series is how good the voice acting and performances are from the cast, with even side characters turning in strong performances. Admittedly it’s all in Japanese but none sound out of place.

Yakuza fans won’t be disappointed by Kiwami 2. From the main story (lasting around 20 hours or so) to the massive variety of side quests and optional missions, there’s a lot to get into. Rather than summarise whether you should invest, it’s best off closing my review with one of my favourite moments which may help you decide if it is for you. From the moment you load into Osaka, you are practically invited to check out the Sega amusement arcade across the street, where a gentleman invites you to play a new game called “Toylets”. You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that this game is about how to wee properly. If nothing else, going to the real-life toilet just got a bit more interesting.

Reviewed on PS4

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