Yakuza 3 – The PS3 Attitude Review
In Yakuza 3 you play as Kazuma as he comes out of retirement and returns to Tokyo. As a former chief of the Yakuza Mafia family, he had been thoroughly enjoying life away from the criminal underworld, even finding time to set up an orphanage after growing up as an orphan himself – or so he thought.
But it isn’t long before his world turns upside down and he has to return to a world that he thought he had completely put behind him.
Yakuza 3 is a game that has taken over a year to spread its wings to the west after pressure from fans everywhere, and it isn’t a minute too soon.
It’s clear straight away that this title is one of the finest games of late to be developed from within the shores of Japan. It provides a pleasant blend of RPG, open world, and Beat ‘em up that you can sit and play for hours on end.
Obviously many people will compare this game to Grand Theft Auto as many elements of it are very familiar. The title is set in a fictional district of Tokyo, allowing you to explore it at your own pace with many activities to do outside of missions such as a round of Karaoke, Bowling, or even filming for your blog. These mini-games may not be the most exciting, but it just proves how far SEGA have gone to offer new and different experiences to keep gamers interested.
Walking down the streets, gangs and thugs will regularly meet you and try to pick a fight, naive of what Kazuma is really capable of. Surprisingly despite his age, Kaz definitely still has what it takes to be a great fighter – he certainly is no granddad!
On first impressions the combat system has a simple arcade-style to it but in reality it is very intuitive as it provides a variety of attack combinations and counter moves. Plus you can also pick up objects or use the environment such as walls to assist in toppling your opponent. By successfully completing attacks your heat metre will fill up, making your moves even more deadly and adding another dimension to the conflict.
As you progress through the game, your character’s abilities will improve as Yakuza 3 features an RPG-like level system to reward you for successfully completing challenges. This will help you even further at defeating your enemies and makes this title very gratifying and of course wonderfully addictive.
As this game has been catapulted straight from Japan with only a few changes, there is no English voicing. Instead the game is full of subtitles which will naturally put people off, but if you’re used to watching a lot of foreign films we don’t see why the title shouldn’t earn your attention.
However it would have been nice to have English speaking voicing as an option, but then we would have to wait even longer for it to release over here, which is a prospect that fans couldn’t let happen.
One of the things we notice straight away is that the cut scenes in Yakuza 3 are quite long. Of course if you’re a fan of Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid series you will be fully used to this notion, although we should point out that they don’t quite reach to the extent seen in those games – a good or bad thing we can’t decide. It’s a shame that there isn’t at least an option to pause the scenes in case of an urgent toilet calling though, as many keep on going just when you expect them to finish. Of course you can skip them once you switch on this option in the menu, but you’ll miss most of the story if you do and so it isn’t recommended.
This title is much more story driven than most games that come out of western developers. A lot of the plot is about character development and as a gamer you feel a strong bond with many of the individuals you see on the screen. This makes Yakuza 3 more than just a game that has simply been jammed with a variety of gameplay options, and is why it isn’t an experience that you can simply drop in now and again.
If you’re looking for a visually stunning game then this is it, although that’s largely thanks to the bright colourful textures used rather than any outstanding graphics. After playing games like Uncharted 2 and God of War III, you can’t help but feel that Yakuza 3 looks a little outdated, and it makes you really appreciate just how talented Santa Monica and Naughty Dog really are!
One of the few problems we have with this game is the use of in-game sequences in addition to the regular cut scenes. These sequences involve repeatedly clicking and reading through lines of text at the bottom of the screen while the characters stand there motionless. This really does slow down the pace of the game and is the most frustrating aspect of it. A few years ago in the PS2 days it probably wouldn’t be so much of an issue, but for today’s market we find it inexcusable and it sadly dampens the quality of an otherwise unforgettable game.
Now we have a feeling that many of you may have never played the previous two games. This isn’t a random inclination; we’re just basing it on the fact that unfortunately outside of Japan this franchise hasn’t had so much recognition. Therefore if after reading this review you’re interested in playing the game, but are worried you need knowledge of the previous two to make the most of it, we can put your mind to rest. Although it isn’t essential that you know about the previous titles, it does help and so that’s why the developers have included highlight footage of the first two games on the disc so you can catch right up to the series so far. However having said this, the game will still demand you to give it time so you can fully settle into the Yakuza universe.
It is fair to say that Yakuza 3 will not be to everyone’s liking. The lack of English voice acting and heavy use of text will disappoint many as it asks you to do a lot of reading, which may or may not be a problem. It’s also a game that may look daunting due to the rightful influence of Japanese culture, use of several different gameplay formats, and its deep storylines. But if none of those deter you then we think you are guaranteed to be playing it for a long time. The developers have succeeded at providing an experience that will last you many hours, providing great value for money. So if you get your hands on it, make sure your schedule is clear before sitting down in front of the TV and picking up the controller.