Posted by: insanemouse | February 28, 2008

Yakuza – PS2 – First Impressions

Stop the presses! My copy of Yakuza for the PS2 is finally in hand and I have first impressions (on a 2 year old game)! I have to admit, I got the idea for playing this game from the 1Up Yours guys. They seemed to have some good things to say about it, so $15 later at my local Gamestop, I am able to see if they are full of it.

The game looks like a basic brawler, but it’s really not. It’s more of an action RPG than anything else. You walk the street and people will sometimes confront you to start some trouble and the screen fades out and then back into a battle mode, similar to a Final Fantasy or something. There’s a short win sequence and then you move on back into “quest” mode.

First of all, lets be clear, it’s a PS2 game so out of the box it looks a little long in the tooth. The graphics, I was say are better than, say, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas or something, but not as good as God of War. They are good, though, and do a good job of representing their characters. The environments are really cool, too, because as the 1Up guys stated, they do a good job of recreating the Kabuki-cho area of Shinjuku (in Tokyo). The neon lights, the store fronts, the sounds, etc are really spot on.

The story opens with a bit of a bang in that a young, well respected member of a crime family takes the rap for his friend shooting one of the Yakuza bosses. You follow the short events leading up to that and then the story really starts to take place. I won’t spoil anything else as it’s mildly engaging and every chapter leaves you hanging on what could happen next.

The combat system in the game is a little broken in that, it’s easy to pick up and run with, but it’s missing one fundamental thing…a clear-cut targeting system. All of my combat thus far has been hand to hand, but I spend a lot of time punching the air because I don’t always square up in front of the enemy. That’s a bit frustrating, but I haven’t found too many instances where it places me at a big enough disadvantage, as I’ve not gotten my butt kicked yet. One interesting thing is that the PS2 adequately handles upwards of 6 or 8 enemies on screen without a hiccup…I felt like this was a good testament to one of my all time favorite systems.

The RPG elements of the game consist of gaining experience as you fight characters, visit shops, etc. and can be spent in a Devil May Cry or God of War type of way to gain new abilities, extend your life bar and such.   It has a bit of a Dead Rising feel to it because in fights, you can pick up items from the environment as limited use weapons.

I will say one thing, though…the dialogue in the game is borderline offensive.  I know it’s a gangster story and it’s feasible to think that gangsters use lots of foul language, but I’ve heard the “F” word more times in this game that I do on a typical day in New York City (or the lab at work, hehe).  The use of curse words in this game is so excessive that it becomes a bit comical and I think loses its edge in portraying the dark world of organized crime.  Look past that, though, as stated you’ve got a decent story.

I’m in the 4th Chapter of the game right now and haven’t played it since I went on vacation, but I’ll be sure report back with further impressions as I resume my quest.  If you’ve been curious at all about the game, I say go ahead and pick it up.  I got it for $15 at GameStop (teh devil!) so it’s a pretty cheap buy in for a neat game.



  1. F You Insanemouse! Signed, The lab

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