Yakuza 0 | SEGA
YAKUZA 0: THE GAME I NEVER KNEW I WANTED
Welcome to the family.
by Felipe Parada
I was always a fan of the Yakuza Series even though I never got the chance to play any of the games in the series. The game had a certain charm about it that always separated it from other larger franchises. I was always a bit hesitant on playing the series because the the Yakuza story was already on its 5th game and I didn't want to start a series knowing very little backstory. A series that was predominantly based overseas, I didn't think that SEGA bringing it to the west was ever in the cards.
Here we are 10 years later and SEGA announced the 10th Anniversary Project; it's still a little unclear on what exactly that is but with the release of Yakuza 0 and subsequent re-masters of Yakuza Kiwami 1 & 2, it seems like SEGA is doubling down on the Yakuza franchise. 2018 is already looking to be eventful with the release Yakuza 6: Song of Life and Yakuza Heroes. It seems like there is no better time than now, to jump into the Yakuza series.
Although I was recommended to start with Yakuza Kiwami, which is the remaster of the original Yakuza, I went with the origin story of Yakuza 0. If I was going to dive in, I was going to start from the very beginning. I am glad I made that decision because I knew almost nothing about the setting or the characters so I was able to experience it with a fresh set of eyes.
There is no shortage of boss battles in Yakuza 0. The family bosses want to kindly remind you who is in charge.
Yakuza 0 | SEGA
From the start I was presented with a story of brotherhood, murder, sex and betrayal. SEGA made sure all the boxes were checked when they made this game. It was a bit slow burn at the start and I was not aware that the cut-scenes were at the level of Metal Gear Solid 4 but the story more than makes up for it. The cut-scenes aren't an issue because of how well they are made. The voice work and facial animations are some of the most impressive of the current generation of consoles. It is scary how real these characters look and the flow of the dialog mixed with the camera work show that the Yakuza series has not lost its step. Even though there is quite a bit of reading I really didn't mind because I was sucked into the story from the start. I think that the lack of English dub actually helps Yakuza's case to keep its authenticity. I wanted to know the story of the main characters and how they would end up developing a rivalry that will span 6 series.
You play as Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima, two rivals in series with their own reasons why they decide to stay in the Yakuza. Each one of them very unique playstyles but the central story leads both of them to look for one person who is in possession of an important plot of land. This is there the battle for power begins as every single family under the sun does whatever it takes to secure the "empty lot". As each chapter passes your list of fiends that you can trust gets shorter and shorter.
The story is well told and the world is meticulously constructed. Although one of the smaller open in video games today, the world feels so vibrant and alive. The hustle and bustle of 80's Japan is oozing out of this game. The flashing lights of the cabarets to the pachinko machines blaring in the background you cant help but stop and admire the detail that SEGA has put fourth. The world of Karumocho and Sotenbori aren't just there to look at, they are there to experienced. There is plenty to do to both cities; running a cabaret, running real estate ventures, playing pool and visiting an arcade with SEGA classics are just some of the activities you can take part in. Each one of these side activities can suck up hours upon hours of gameplay.
SEGA wants to make sure that you don't miss out on some classic gaming.
If you are not playing arcade games or getting to know the locals you are out on the streets brutally beating up thugs that stand in your way. Yakuza 0 has some of the most brutal combat out there and it is very refreshing. At first the combat may feel a bit outdated because we are all used to the Arkham-style fighting system that was introduced back in 2009 but once you get used to the mechanics you really begin to appreciate its brutality. Each character has 3 unique fighting styles each with upgrade-able skill tree to help create a truly unstoppable fighting machine in the end. Whether you go out of your way looking for a fight or are just soaking up the view as you walk down the street, there will always be some young thug looking for a fight. Anything can be used as a weapon and I do mean anything: car doors, guard rails, bicycles, teapots you name it and it it just lying around for you to help punish your enemies.
Even after completion of the game I wanted to go back and keep tackling the side activities and keep curb stomping some Yakuza thugs. I never knew I wanted to play a game like this THIS badly. Trying to get high scores in on some SEGA classics has sucked up some major game-time but that is what's part of Yakuza's charm. If you were hesitant on jumping in on the Yakuza series now would be a great time to start. This game is a definite MUST-PLAY for those looking to experience something unique and different. The west is getting a great influx of Yakuza content and it doesn't look like it will slow down any time soon. There is no time greater than now to be a Yakuza fan.
Considering the fact that I never played a Yakuza game previously, this game is a MUST PLAY for anyone looking for a reason to get involved in the Yakuza lifestyle.
Did you get a chance to play Yakuza? Let us know what you think in the comments below.