Remember Afrika? After extended begging for a western release, they finally shipped it, and no one cared. All that mystique that had been built up from extensive preview coverage and extensive begging instantly fizzled into nothing and everyone promptly forgot about it.
Having briefly played Afrika and completing Yakuza 2, I can personally vouch for Yakuza being a much better game that more people will actually like.
But I would still like to temper some expectations a little bit:
- Yakuza 1+2 were brawler RPGs. The setting and story was GTA, the combat was Final Fight, and the majority of the gameplay was Final Fantasy.
- Yakuza 1+2 had B-level production values. The 3D models, animation, action mechanics, menu systems were well behind the cutting edge PS2 games of the time like Jak & Daxter, God of War, Metal Gear Solid or to a lesser extent GTA or Final Fantasy. I’m expecting Yakuza 3 to have similar production values that are behind the cutting edge but with a major leap to PS3 standards (HD, order of magnitude higher poly counts and texture quality, improved menus and action mechanics, etc).
- The story reminds me of the dated John Woo movies I used to watch 10-20 years ago, which is kind of fun and kind of corny.
- There is plenty to legitimately dislike: the action isn’t as polished/balanced as other melee action games, there are tons of crude mini-games, the game is very long and progresses somewhat slowly. I liked the game, but plenty of people will not like for very valid reasons.
That said, this series has lots of unique one-off charm and I am definitely pre-ordering. I had more fun with Yakuza 2 than most other games, and getting an upgraded PS3 version of that is worth it.
You also don’t have to be a Japan-o-phile to like this. I never play JRPGs (except Demon’s Souls), I hated Valkyria Chronicles, didn’t get Ico or Okami or Zelda, Ratchet and Jak trump Mario, etc, but this was pretty good.
Written by: Darrin
- Contributing Editor