Monday, August 21, 2017

"Yakuza Kiwami" Review

Hot on the heels of the 1980s-set "Yakuza 0" comes yet another prequel to Sega's somber gangland saga, which melds open world combat missions with social and leisure activities. The new game, set in 1995, tracking the next stage of the career of Kazuma Kiryu, the protagonist in "Yakuza 0," in his continued rise to prominence.

This time out, you are tasked to protect an orphan while tracking down $10 billion yen in missing cash. The game amounts to a remake of the little-played original "Yakuza," gussied up with an HD makeover, with new plot elements sprinkled among a bushel of previously unreleased content.

As you traverse the city, you advance your skills by racking up experience points by completing various activities. There are also standard minigames, such as parlor arcade diversions and the ever-popular rhythm-based karaoke minigame you can use to seep into the culture and blow off steam in between missions.

Although some of the old seams in the structure of the decades-old game continue to show. "Yakuza: Kiwami" feels like a fresh enough experience to justify the rerelease. Although the games that followed were fuller-featured explorations into the mythos, there's something refreshing about exploring the series' roots in a package blessed with the smooth trappings of modern systems, including short load times, graphical polish and technical polish.

Firmly entrenched as an eclectic niche attraction, "Yakuza" games refuse to fade into the background. This has been an impressive year for the franchise, which shows no sign of slowing. The new release is more than enough to whet the appetite for the next full-blown sequel.

Publisher provided review code.

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