Yakuza Preview - The Next Level

Game Profile

PlayStation 2
Release date:
September 5, 2006
Amusement Vision


Now updated with some hands-on impressions.

Preview by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
May 11th 2006

Finally got some hands on time with Sega's much anticipated crime action saga. The E3 demo revealed a living city, lost in the haze of neon and violence. The milling crowds and detailed surroundings are shown off in fixed camera angles, while bumping and shoving your way through might trigger a small sub-plot, such as a woman who claims assault, and draws her accomplices to extort some yen. Pay up and they'll walk away, but tell them to shut up and you might end up with some cash yourself...if you take them down first. Combat is similar to Urban Reign, but here you can actually block and unleash your heat attacks, built up on pummeling some guy's face in. The combat is very satisfying, with a real sense of weight and energy that just could be the best random encounters ever seen in an RPG.

The story also carries a lot of weight, with a sense of drama and character lacking in the videogame genre. I found myself getting comfortable with these characters, making me wish I could experience all this with the lights low on a quiet night, instead of under the blare of E3. I guess I'll just have to wait for September for that.

Last Updated: 5/05/2006

··· Aaron Drewniak

Is this is a movie or a videogame? The recently released English language trailer of Sega's underworld action epic succeeds in blurring that line with all the thrills and style that you'd expect from one of Hong Kong cinema's finest. This is a compelling story of loyalty and betrayal, trust and revenge, among the hidden hierarchy of the deadly Yakuza. This is also a rumble. Men in black suits slamming fists with flowing grace, streetwise heavies decked in dragon tattoos with baseball bats and bad attitudes, and leaps into the air amid the smoke of slow-motion gunfire. The fact that you'll actually get to play it is just icing on the cake.

You can see it all here (see link below). Though it's going to make it a very long wait until September.

Media Download:
Yakuza Trailer (48.80MB, Quicktime format)

Last Updated: 3/15/2006

··· Aaron Drewniak

The Basics: Honor. Respect. Loyalty. Stylish tattoos. These are the principles of Japan's most feared criminal organization: the Yakuza. Kiryu Kazuma was once a trusted brother, only to get caught up in a plot amounting to a missing $100 million, and ending up serving a ten year prison term for murder. Now he's out, but hardly free when he finds himself drawn back into the criminal underworld, and forced to bring his mind and his fists to bear on the truth about his past, which all seems connected to a mysterious girl known as Haruka.

"Yakuza is a game like none other as it delves into one of the most mysterious and iconic aspects of Japanese culture," says Scott A. Steinberg, Vice President of Marketing, SEGA of America, Inc. "Players will have the opportunity to take on the world's most notorious and sophisticated underground organizations as they embark on a series of dangerous missions set in the gritty and seedy underbelly of Tokyo."

Sway. Smash. Grab. If you want to defend the Yakuza's turf, you're going to have to master the game's stylish fighting system, where you need to dodge the attacks of multiple enemies with the grace of a heavyweight boxer before laying into them with hard-hitting attack combos and nasty assortment of weaponry. Or make full use of the environment to smash thugs against walls, crash them through tables, and send them straight to the hospital with a bone-breaking Heat Gauge attack. The better you fight, the stronger you become, with the ability to increase strength, stamina, and other skills by delivering some hard lessons in respect and honor.

Neon is your sun and the sparkle of jewelry are the only stars that can be seen, while the sky above is a solid black, drowned out by the glare of the sprawl that's your playground, this hidden Mecca of Tokyo's decadent nightlife. Your free-roaming territory even includes real world shops that were licensed to authentically recreate the feel of stumbling into a Japanese quickie mart after a bender. There's plenty of places to explore through the bustling crowds, and numerous side missions to follow, from shaking down informants to spending some time idly smashing home runs in a batting cage. Amidst all of this, the mystery behind Kazuma's life is slowly unwoven to reveal the secrets of the traditions of the notorious Yakuza.

What do we think? It's been put together by Toshihiro Nagoshi and his ex-Smilebit brothers before their team was lost in some of Sega's inner gang warfare, taking everything about Shenmue and transforming it into a true tough guy brawler with a main character that isn't looking for sailors. You have a story crafted by an award-winning novelist Seishu Hase, instead of something written on the back of a cocktail napkin like what passes for tales in most games. While people who have played the Japanese version have said that it's not only one of Sega's best titles to date, but one of the best games of all time.

I think it's going to be something else.

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