- Yakuza is one of the very few RPGs (particularly JRPGs) that uses a modern day setting (or historical setting in the case of Kenzan) rather than the typical cliche pulp fantasy and sci-fi settings used in other RPGs. Personally, I’m more interested in this than Final Fantasy XIII.
- The game stars Japanese Super Models. Hostess bars are tons of fun.
- Yakuza delivers the experience of exploring Japanese cities. This series really oozes personality.
- The Yakuza games are *BIG*. Tons of side-quests and dialog trees and things to discover.
- Brawler combat is a nice change of pace from the traditional RPG number battles.
- The biggest problem with Yakuza 2 was the tech. Yakuza 3 isn’t perfect either, but it’s still a whole different category than 2: The crude character models, animation, physics, and even the menus and interface felt really old and junky next to B/C-list 2008-era PS3 games.
- Every other western-release PS3/360 JRPG feels like it was pumped out from some generic copy-cat game mill.
- Games like Metal Gear and Resident Evil were made in Japan by Japanese developers, but they were made with an international audience in mind, and they feel that way. Yakuza is one of the very few story-heavy full-scale games that feels like a “foreign game” made with a non-western mindset for a completely non-western audience. The western audience is starved for unique/different/novel experiences like this, but the window of opportunity won’t last much longer.
- The game is already finished. Just hire a translator, pump out some sub-titles, cut through the corporate bureaucracy, and print some new blu-ray discs!
I’m not trying to exagerate the quality of this series either. Yakuza 2 was definitely short of a great game by western tastes: lots of individual mechanics were mediocre and repetitive, some of the dialog was idiotic, and the tech was B-level even for a PS2 game. Yet the game had a ton of content, lots of charm and atmosphere, and a very unique personality to it. I haven’t played 3, but my only expectation is a rise from B-level PS2 tech to B-level PS3 tech, which is a huge improvement, particularly for this style of open-world 3D game.
If Sega doesn’t have the initiative to localize, Sony or some other publisher should step up to the plate on this one. If I could I would stake my own money that this would sell well enough to cover the localization costs and turn a profit, if they get this out in less than a year.
Written by: Darrin
- Contributing Editor