This is it, Yakuza 4 is my first ever Yakuza game and what a great game it is. Japanese games have very rarely caught my eye apart from the odd Final Fantasy game (VII & IX) and Lost Odyssey. Each time I look at gaming news online it seems like there’s another Yakuza game released.
You might be thinking why I’ve decided to start at Yakuza 4 and not at the very beginning of the series? Well, the honest reason is I don’t have a PS2 or the first 3 games and Yakuza 4 was free on PlayStation Plus a couple of years ago. Luckily I’ve kept my big, fat chunky PlayStation 3. I also have Yakuza 5, that too was free on PS Plus. But I think I will be sticking with Yakuza 4 for now.
First Impressions Last in Yakuza
My first impressions of Yakuza 4 is that it’s very Sega if you know what I mean. There’s a style that is very familiar from the big Sega arcade games that’s evident here too. It’s pretty cool and so is this game.
I mean yeah it’s a PS3 game so the graphics aren’t going to be on par with the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X. However, they’re very pretty for its time.
When I began playing I didn’t think I would cope with the subtitles. I’m useless with films with subtitles, but this game got me hooked. The characters and the story have grabbed me by the balls and don’t want to let go.
There’s a charm with the game whether it’s the characters or the quests you carry out. It always feels fresh.
Player Choose Your Fighter
There are four playable characters, who each bring their own unique moves and play style to the table. While the setting remains in the series mainstay Kamurocho, it has been expanded to allow players to explore the city rooftops and go underground.
The four playable characters include:
Shun Akiyama – an easygoing Loan Shark infamous for giving out ridiculous amounts of money at a zero-percent interest rate, so long as a client can pass one of his Secret Tests of Character.
Taiga Saejima – former yakuza member from the Sasai family under the Tojo Clan. He’s been on death row for twenty-five years but discovers he may have been set up and resolves to escape to find out the truth.
Masayoshi Tanimura – a young and corrupt cop who is infamously known as “The Parasite of Kamurocho”. His goal is to investigate the death of his father.
Kazuma Kiryu – the former yakuza and The Protagonist of the earlier games. He becomes involved when an old enemy informs him that the money stolen from the Tojo Clan in 2005 is somehow connected to the current crisis the Tojo Clan is facing.
With a highly involved, emotional story, the four playable characters all find that their separate paths lead to the murder of a low-ranking gangster, and further events soon thrust them into a conflict that threatens to embroil all of Tokyo in gang violence.
The story casts every major organization in Tokyo—the yakuza, the police, the government— as members of an elaborate conspiracy, tied into events that happened both in the distant past and in the first Yakuza game. The storyline has all kinds of twists and turns to keep you on your toes.
Although the story refers to various events that have happened through the Yakuza timeline. It doesn’t make the game unplayable to newcomers, I should know I’m one of them.
As with any RPG style game, there is a lot of fetch quests. But as you go about your business thugs will approach you and want to have it out with you.
The fight challenges are cool allowing you to grab all manner of objects around the fighting stage area, such as bicycles and traffic cones. Completing combos will increase your heat gauge that when full will allow you to unleash powerful moves with or without objects or weapons.
Other side challenges I have come across are chases. One was to escape the police in a rooftop chase and the other was to each a geezer to prove my worthiness.
This game is so enjoyable, the characters are badass and the story is engaging as hell. There’s enough content and variety here to keep you going for a long time.
If you are on the fence about trying a Yakuza game like I was, then I recommend that you take the plunge. You won’t be disappointed. All I need to do now is play the rest of them.