By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on September 11, 2017
Now, I know some of you probably think it is most awesome to be a badass and to have your name whispered in fear by people you pass on the streets. And if you say it like this, it does indeed sound awesome! But, what if you're name is tied to a gruesome murder and you wind up in jail for the better part of ten years? If this isn't bad enough, everything you have worked for so far is going down the drain really fast and your best friend is now your worst enemy. So, do you still think being the badass is awesome?
Well, to be honest, when playing Yakuza Kiwami, it actually is! Luckily, we're still talking about a videogame here, so the ten years in jail amounts to a montage of a few minutes, so it isn't too bad. And after that, we go straight back to taking names and kicking ass! Some things might change in ten years, but the thirst for revenge always seems to stay the same...
A big part of playing any Yakuza game is fighting. And, to my delight, the fighting system of Yakuza Kiwami works perfectly! There are four basic styles to choose from; Brawler is a standard fighting style, combining elements of the other three styles and is the most balanced of the four. Beast style relies on slow but extremely powerful attacks. Rush style is comprised of a number of lightning fast attacks, but doesn't do as much damage per attack as Brawler or Beast style. Lastly, there is the Dragon style, which is Kiryu's personal style. Due to his time in prison, he has "forgotten" most of the moves of this style and cannot use it right away. But don't worry, there is a way to reclaim that what has been forgotten.
Ten years later, Kiryu is released and tries to get his life back on track. Pretty soon, he is back on the streets doing what he does best; being a badass. During the time he spent in jail, the Tojo clan, of which Kiryu was a member, has changed and his friend has turned into a power-mad version of his former self. To make matters worse, Kiryu's childhood friend, Yumi has gone missing and someone managed to steal ten billion yen from the clan. What ensues is an all out turf war, with Kiryu caught in the middle. During his quest to restore order, Kiryu comes across a young girl named Haruka. Every clan seems to be intent on finding her, so it's up to Kiryu to protect her.
Moves from the Dragon style can be unlocked by fighting one of your old adversaries, Goro Majima. Majima will appear randomly throughout the story, always ready to fight you. If you manage to beat him, you will rank up in "Majima everywhere", a new mechanic that allows you to unlock Dragon style moves as you rank up, so always be ready to fight this impertinent loudmouth and beat him numerous times.
Visually, Yakuza Kiwami looks awesome! The developers have completely redone the resolution, textures and frame rate of the models and the animations in the game, giving the game the appearance it always deserved. The controls are much more responsive than in the original game and additional content has even been added. Basically, the core of the game has stayed the same, but the developers managed to clarify some of the plot points by adding this new content which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Also, these additions link the story to the events of the 2015 prequel, Yakuza 0.
So, all in all, I really liked playing Yakuza Kiwami. It is great to play a classic game once more, especially one as treasured as Yakuza. The new additions give the game more depth, while preserving the basic premise. I can only surmise that the developers have always wanted to make the game like this and now, finally, they could. I can heartily recommend Yakuza Kiwami to everyone that loves the Yakuza series, as well as to everyone who loves a good action rpg game. Yakuza Kiwami is a really strong title; one which I'm certain I'm going to play more than a few times over! So, if you'd excuse me, I'm going to hit the streets again and kick some more ass!