Review: Yakuza 4 (PS3)

By Wayne Webb

I have played an earlier edition of Yakuza and to me this new version is almost the same. There’s a long story, the dialogue is obviously designed in another language, the gameplay jumps all over the show and you run around a few blocks in pseudo Tokyo streets.

There are 4 characters in this new updated version and the graphics have improved over previous outings. However on occasion they look like they belong on the PS2 despite some very nicely detailed cinematic cut scenes. The first character is a nightclub owner and loan shark. He is possibly the nicest loan shark ever (to customers) but is quite happy to eviscerate random gang members on the street when they attack.

And on that attacking in the streets, it’s fun at first but gets old, fast. Good systematic violence happens randomly as you try to progress the story. It’s like Final Fantasy and other similar games, things just happen to you and you have to fight your way out. After 20 or so of these it gets dull and repetitive, with enemies easily defeated and your increasing score helping you learn new moves. So if you enjoy that kind of game, then there is plenty here for you.

As you progress you are offered side missions, some to develop the main plot, some to develop your own wealth and skills. One of the oddest things about the game is the pimping missions where you get to play a bizarre form of dress up with your girls at a hostess bar you own. There’s loads of Sim-like detail in dresses, make up and accessories and the more you alter your girls appearance to suit your club customers, the happier she is and the more money you make. Not a sub game for the feminists among gamers I think, or kids for that matter.

There are loads of things to do and places to explore as you make your way through the game. Once past the pimping and loan sharking (where repayments are apparently optional) you jump into the next character and prison life.

Yakuza 4 is an odd game and made for the Japanese market. If those kind of games are your thing then you should enjoy it, though I’m sure that most newcomers will find it a bit odd. It’s less like a game and more like an Asian soap opera, punctuated with fights.

Pros: Game length and side missions, storyline entertainment.
Cons: Too much story, too many game styles, translated dialogue, repetitious.

2.5 Shacks out of 5