Yakuza Kiwami 2 Review
The Dragon of Dojima Returns
Published on August 27, 2018
Yakuza Kiwami 2
Release Date: August 28th, 2018
Platform: Sony Playstation 4
Review copy provided by SEGA
With the Tojo Clan left in shambles from the happenings in Kamurocho that took place in Yakuza 1, the Dragon of Dojima Kiryu Kazuma only wanted to retire and give Haruka the life he never had. Unfortunately for Kiryu, signs of weakness have a tendency to inspire greater ambitions from numerous players throughout the world of Yakuza, thrusting him back into the heart of the criminal world.
First making its debut with Yakuza 6: Song of Life, Kiwami 2 makes use of the Ryū ga Gotoku Studio’s Dragon Engine. The streets of Kamurocho and Sotenbori look simply stunning with the superb lighting effects offered by the engine, making it incredibly enjoyable to walk around and take in the scenery of the various walkways and alleyways. It seems silly, but the inclusion of the ability for Kiryu to snap selfies of himself throughout is a good way for the player to have a bit of fun, while at the same time gives them more reason to admire the cities that the developers crafted. Playing on a standard PS4, there were very few slowdowns and load times were fairly short. Unlike in the sixth installment, NPCs seemed to appear much less stiff and robotic in their movements during dialogue interactions, making it much less awkward to observe. The pre-rendered cutscenes the series is known for are scattered throughout the story, offering gratuitous levels of detail for each character’s clothes and face.
Combat remains by and large unchanged, offering brutal bouts of hand-to-hand brawling combat intertwined with a number of conventional and improvised weapons. For this outing, Kiryu only has one fighting style, which while being somewhat of an amalgamation of the styles he had in Zero and Kiwami 1, still feels very limiting when determining the best approach for the various encounters of the game. Despite that, every punch and kick has an incredible sense of impact, often sending weaker thugs ragdolling or put in a position to initiate one of many Heat Actions, which act as context-sensitive moves that make use of the environment or the equipped item to do large amounts of damage. Using experience points gained through battle, eating food, and story activities, Kiryu’s stats and repertoire of combat moves can be increased, further improving his signature brand of street justice. The overall combat system maintains a good flow, making up somewhat for the lack of other fighting styles by tightening up combat so that it feels smoother.
Another staple of the series, Kiwami 2 presents a crime-world that is seeped in drama. Goda Ryuji, the Dragon of Kansai, aspires to defeat the Dragon of Dojima, assimilate the Tojo into the Omi Alliance, and secure his place at the top as Chairman. As could be expected, things are never so black and white as police become involved, historical cover-ups are revealed, and other external forces enter the picture. Dispersed throughout the melodrama, the game allows a moment to wind down and enjoy some heartfelt moments with familiar faces. Typically, the tone is fairly straight-brow, but there are also moments where any semblance of reality is thrown out the window. Kiryu punching a tiger is absurd, but it acts somewhat as an acknowledgment that this is still a video game. The story invokes a large amount of “one more scene” syndrome with next to no dull moments as each character offers new interactions and revelations.
Running between main story scenes to progress, the true challenge is revealed as copious amounts of side content constantly beckon along each street corner. Substories offer interactions with random townspeople, usually having humorous connotations and being fairly short, although some do have dedicated cutscenes that are a treat to watch. Yakuza has become notorious for the number of minigames offered, including the batting cages, golf, various arcade games, gambling parlors, and the return of the much-beloved Cabaret Club Grand Prix, to name a few possibilities. Also included is the brand new Majima Construction, an RTS wave defense game where the player is helping Majima amass the resources needed to build his dream development, Kamurocho Hills. The minigames work great in both short or long doses, offering a good break from the action while helping the overall city feel more interactive.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 does a superb job remaking a classic of the series. The presentation and delivery of the whole experience shows an incredible amount of dedication from the development team to make sure the momentum obtained from Zero and Kiwami could continue for the series, perhaps driven even further as it has been confirmed this will be the last true remake for the series with 3 and 4 being released as HD remasters. In a world with room for only one dragon, the Dragon of Dojima soars.