Saturday, October 28, 2017

Yakuza Kiwami Review: More Modern Sensation!



If you look at their plans with their flagship semi-open-world franchise, then it seems clear what SEGA is trying to do with the Yakuza, especially after the fact that some of the previous series did not get the localization process. True, after the release of Yakuza 0 which is now positioned as the foundation of the story for Kazuma Kiryu's figure and iconic support character - Goro Majima, SEGA began re-releasing Yakuza's older series in Remake format to continue the braided story and hype. By carrying the name "Kiwami" in it, this is what is done SEGA with the first series that had released in the era of Playstation 2 first. A product that we can finally taste directly on Playstation 4.

10 years ago, the presence of the first Yakuza on the Playstation 2 did make many gamers fall in love with this Japanese gangster story. Although it does not offer a world of GTA or other western open-world games, the Shenmue-style approach makes Yakuza's attraction more inclined not only to the story and cinematic approach being carried, but also the absurd bypass mission that is ready to entertain. The fight that focused on the action of empty hands and kicks was also executed quite sweetly at that time. Now the 10-year-old experience is trying to "resell" in Yakuza Kiwami format that offers the same story, but improvements on all sides.

So, what is offered by this Kiwami Yakuza? Why do we call it a much more modern sensation? This review will answer that question for you.


Plot

Remembering Yakuza Kiwami is the first Yakuza Remake that was released in the era of Playstation 2 first, then you will get the basic content of the story is really the same. Although you will get an extra cut-scene and change the camera's point of view for cinematic sensations more clearly and better, it's still about Kazuma Kiryu who must deal with situations she never predicted before.

Being a direct sequel series of Yakuza 0, Kazuma Kiryu who has proven himself as a trusted Yakuza in the "field" starts preparing to build his own "family". But before being able to hoist his new flag, he had to deal with a complicated situation. The closest friend who has played a role in the previous conflict - Nishikiyama had to kill Dojo family boss - Sohei Dojima who tried to sexual violence Yumi, their siblings since childhood. Do not want Nishiki arrested, for the sake of protecting Yumi anyway, Kazuma also pairs the body. He directed all the murder charges against him.

Kiryu was thrown into prison. Not short, he had to serve a 10-year sentence for Nishiki's mistake. Once out, he finds that Kamurocho is now much different from what he has known all along. Business is becoming more passionate, technology is much more advanced than before it has to languish behind bars, with the shifting powers and politics of criminal organizations behind the scenes that are also constantly moving dynamically. Kiryu also found a surprising fact behind the clan that he had defended in the past.

Tojo Clan - one of the largest Yakuza clans that contains several families in it was hit by a big problem. Someone has stolen 10 billion Yen from their pockets for no apparent reason, with the suspect still inviting a lot of question marks. Not only that, there is a clear movement from the outside to destroy Tojo Clan, complete with attempts to kill Shintaro Kazama - a former boss of Kiryu.

While trying to find a common thread and answer to this great mystery, Kiryu actually met a daughter named Haruka who became the target of rival clan families. Fighting to protect him, Haruka was found to contain an essential "key" to search for and find 10 billion Yen of the Tojo clan that disappeared, just as the wind swept away.

So, what exactly is Haruka's role in this story? Can Kiryu resolve this conflict? Who is also responsible for the loss of 10 billion Yen belongs Tojo Clan this? All the answers are certainly you can get by playing Yakuza Kiwami this one.


A "Remake"

Remastered? Calling Yakuza Kiwami a Remake game seems to be a more appropriate word choice when it comes to how significant visualization and presentation changes are offered in it. We are talking of small things like Kamurocho which is now adorned with high definition textures in various corners of the city, with pictures and decorative lights that are now also supported with better visualization. But one of the most significant changes now lies in the character model that now looks much better with a more subtle modern impression.

Yakuza Kiwami himself still has not used the Dragon Engine implemented SEGA first time in Yakuza 6 and later on, Yakuza Kiwami 2. The first series Kiwami is still relying on the engine of Yakuza 0, which although a generation of "late", still able to present the proper visualization quality to thumbs up. Like Yakuza 0, the details of each character model, especially from their faces and facial expressions while talking or channeling any emotion, are evident here.

Calling it a "Remake" also feels more appropriate because the Yakuza team itself changed and replaced the Playstation 2 character model with the Yakuza version 0, especially for some characters that are related to the two series. The result? You can compare and find changes that are no longer appropriate to be simply called "Remaster". Supporting characters such as Reina-chan who continue to support the action of Kazuma Kiryu for example, looks much different than the version of his Playstation 2. For this version of Kiwami on PS4, Reina will be far more effective to make your heart melt.

The decision to call it a Remake game is also appropriate given the variety of new content offered in it, something we will discuss later. But for the presentation business, as happened with Yakuza 0, the focus of detail is more directed to characters who do have an important portion in the story. As for the NPC characters who just mudik back and forth in Kamurocho, you will still find a repetition of character models that seem not difficult to find.

With a presentation like this, then if there is one thing that works with Yakuza Kiwami is making it a relevant "old" game. That he became the best format for gamers "newcomers" who are always curious about the Yakuza series to continue to enjoy the Kiryu saga, at least until the upcoming sixth series. A quality that deserves to be called the current generation of games.


Now More Modern

Yakuza, whatever series you have or will taste later, is always centered on the same experience base. A semi-open-world game with a dramatic epic story wrapped with a hand-held action game and a series of super-unique missions that are "really Japanese". Reflecting on the experience you got 10 years ago on Yakuza Playstation 2 and earlier this year with Yakuza 0, you seem to be able to predict approximately what kind of content you get. But for the affairs of the gameplay itself, it's hard not to admit that Yakuza 0 does affect a lot of changes made SEGA with this Kiwami Yakuza.

The simplest thing is like a fighting system, for example. Unlike the original series that only trapped in one style only, Yakuza Kiwami adopted the same system from Yakuza 0. That Kiryu now has four fighting styles, each of which has their own advantages and disadvantages. There is a fast fighting style with effective dodge capabilities named "Rush", but has little damage. But there is also, the ability to attack with great damage but with super-slow movements are vulnerable to injured enemies such as "Beast", for example.

There are several other mechanics and mini-games also injected and adapted from Yakuza 0, such as the chance to re-test Kazuma Kiryu's vocals through the karaoke room available for you jajal as well as the chance to return to play Tamiya and prove yourself as the fastest on the track. Other system implementations also center on the return of the CP system - a "currency" that you can accumulate by completing small progressions to be exchanged for permanent items or buffs. The "clown" from Yakuza 0 who is in charge of it can now be found at one of the main entrance of Yakuza Kiwami's main road itself. Additions for adult content are also included, and will be discussed in the next session.

But if you have to choose one of the most significant gameplay changes offered by SEGA in this Remake series is the presence of a new mechanism called "Majima Everywhere". As we know, in the original version of Playstation 2, the figure of Goro Majima is not significant dibiilang. At that time, he was no more than a "rival" of Kiryu who had an unstable personality and great fighting ability, but had no background story at all. But now with the presence of Yakuza 0 released before Kiwami present, where Goro Majima have a very big role in the story there and even become one of the playable characters, it would be very strange if SEGA suddenly throw the depth of this character just like that in Kiwami.

As compensation, SEGA injected Majima Everywhere system with additional basic story. Given that Kiryu has just stepped out of prison, Goro is now told quite worried that this "friend" of his arms will not be ready to compete in a Japanese criminal organization which, of course, has grown strongly and differently over the last 10 years when he was imprisoned. As a solution? Majima will now try to fight whenever you meet him in Kamurocho, either on the road or through certain special events that are not in the original Yakuza PS2 series. If you win, you will have the opportunity to open one branch of skill from your "Dragon" style. Majima will also be stronger each time defeated and serve you with a variety of fighting styles that seem to be familiar, for gamers who have tasted Yakuza 0 in the past.

Interesting, but somewhat forced, this might be the right word to explain what SEGA is trying to offer with this Majima Everywhere. For us personally, it would be more effective to fill Goro's "vacancy" in the original PS2 Yakuza story by providing extra cut-scenes or more significant roles in this Kiwami version. Include it as a random character that keeps demanding you to fight? It's interesting at the beginning. But with the absurdity of Goro's method, it is hard to disown him, he begins to erode the personality and characteristic that makes him loved at Yakuza 0. What should make Goro relevant, now feels like a double-edged sword in Kiwami.

So, are all the Yakuza Kiwami now following the formula from Yakuza 0? Fortunately, no. Unlike Yakuza 0 where money plays a very important role, where it becomes a resource not only to shop, eat, to build a variety of existing business, it also becomes a resource to strengthen Kiryu and Goro at that time. Once the importance of this one resource, until the battle against the various enemies that there will also be decorated with sheets of Yen that scattered to fly when the enemy is beaten or defeated. Instead, Yakuza Kiwami maintains the basic system of the original Yakuza PS2, where the fight will produce Exp. Switchable points to strengthen Kiryu across a range of existing skill sectors, from strengthening only health or damage, to adding movement that you can execute.

On the other hand, like the original series, money also does not play such an important role in this Kiwami Yakuza. Can be counted minimal objects or missions that require you to collect them in a very large amount. In the end, it will end up becoming an essential resource to better prepare Kiryu in the next big fight, like buying healing items or just eating to restore injured health. No more money associations with the ability to upgrade and strengthen Kiryu itself.

With a variety of additional features that he adapt from Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami feels much more modern and relevant compared to the original version of his Playstation 2. New elements such as the opportunity to choose a fighting style mean adding extra layers to the battle strategy, especially against bosses or mid-bosses in stories that if off guard, enough to make you feel frustrated.


Yakuza 0 = Double Edged Sword

However, the technology implementation of Yakuza 0 is also a double-edged sword. As we discussed earlier, on the one hand he did manage to make the experience offered by Kiwami now feel more modern. But on the other hand, he ends up making gamers who have tasted Yakuza series before 0 before willy-nilly, must continue to compare the two. Because at the current point, the two are now beginning to feel like two products are connected in one common thread. And considering the Yakuza Kiwami appeared as a sequel to the story of Yakuza 0 and released after Yakuza 0 is available in the market, it is not impossible that this comparison will end up injuring Kiwami. Why?

Because regardless of what SEGA is trying to do with Kiwami, it retains a strong identity that it is a re-created "old" game. With no significant content changes being offered SEGA in it, this means you are dealing with the first series of a 10 year old franchise that offers an initial storyline. While on the other hand, the real Yakuza 0 appears as a "prequel" series and released long after the Playstation 2 Yakuza certainly adopted a variety of essential elements to make its content more diverse and rich, with a more complex story. This problem is what Yakuza Kiwami must face.

If you look at the Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami will indeed seem like a "half-hearted" series. Indeed he offers a continuation of the story of the saga Kiryu, but in terms of content, Kiwami is not as crowded as what is offered by Yakuza 0. You can only use Kiryu here (without Goro), you can only play in one city, namely Kamurocho (temporary You can explore Osaka in Yakuza 0 as Goro), you will not meet meta-games like taking care of real-estate business or cabaret clubs like the previous series, until there's no super complex story that will trap you in so many interests vary. The result? It is not impossible that new gamers who are familiar with the Yakuza series from the Yakuza series 0 earlier this year will be confused and disappointed with the content offered by Yakuza Kiwami, especially if he does not know that this is a Remake game from a 10 year old PS2 game.

The good news? For those of you who had tasted the first Yakuza series on PS2 and understood the status of the Yakuza 0 release as a new prequel appeared much later, this deficiency becomes something that can be tolerated. Moreover SEGA itself decided to offer this Yakuza Kiwami with a fairly affordable price for an AAA game as a compensation so far, indeed qualified.

"Naughty" Content is More Restricted

The bad news? The limitations of this content also "attack" the rogue content that has been seemingly, has become an integral part of the Yakuza series. Although getting a pretty solid addition compared with the original version of his PS2, but when compared with Yakuza 0, you will get content that in quantity, is more minimal. No more dating booths featuring super-sensual female character models with bikinis or just a DVD shop that allows you to enjoy live video chats of JAV actresses. Yakuza Kiwami has only a few "interesting" things in this one element.

One interesting thing is the opportunity to visit adult movie DVD shop - Beam is now back in Kiwami. If in the era of Playstation 2 ago, you can see the cover of the DVD actress JAV comes with a low texture and difficult to recognize, you now get a high definition texture cover that clearly shows the faces of the existing actress. SEGA goes back to working with SOD (Soft on Demand) studio for this one thing, until you can recognize some pretty famous JAV actress faces like Marina Shiraishi on one of the covers. Unfortunately, there is no opportunity to rent or enjoy the content. Kiryu can also visit a sensual dance club which, unfortunately, has no content to talk about.

One of the significant changes offered is a different hostess system than the original series. Character models that are now being replaced by real JAV actresses with voice act directly from them, the dating process at this club was composed to add a certain depth. There is a ranking system that will now affect their reactions to you on each visit. Each hostess for each of these clubs will throw a myriad of questions for you at each visit, which if you answer correctly, will add to their liking to you. Doing it to the limit, then you will get the ending "deserved". A video lasts a few minutes of each JAV actress who becomes an existing character model, albeit without explicit nudity.

Borrowing what is offered at Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami also injects a "sensual" game called MesuKing that can be accessed via arcade places there. Narrated as a Pokemon-style monster fight game for kids, MesuKing loads of female characters in super-skimpy outfits wrestling with each other using a paper-stone scissor system. An actual concept already exists in Yakuza 0, but re-made under the name and background of a different story.

With all this limited contents, the "adult" content offered by Yakuza Kiwami is to be recognized, much weaker than what SEGA injected at Yakuza 0. But if it only reflects on content comparisons with the original version of Playstation 2, content and quality are much better.

Conclusion

Yakuza Kiwami is an amazing remake game. Significant visual enhancement compared to the original version released 10 years ago is just a surface appeal. If you dive in further, you can see SEGA's endeavor to make this older series feel more relevant and modern for the current generation platform. From injecting a Yakuza 0-fighting system, changing the hostess system now has its own depth, to add new cut-scenes and camera point of view to make your story experience cinematic. For gamers who had tasted Yakuza series 0 at the beginning of the year, this would be a continuation of the story that they do not want to miss.

Nevertheless, this game is not exactly have no shortage. At some point, especially if you are a gamer who departed from Yakuza series 0 first, you will be dealing with a series of "sequels" which is quite disappointing. More minimal than the content, weaker than the story, and no more mad than the content of absurd side missions available. For gamers who do not understand the link between Kiwami status as a game Yakuza and Yakuza 0, this can certainly lead to a product that is disappointing count.

But beyond that deficiency, Kiwami keeps showing his point. Becoming an excuse is increasingly clarify and reinforce why many gamers out there, including us, fell in love with this SEGA open-world game on this one. Moreover SEGA itself offers it at an affordable price for a new product.

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