Review: Yakuza Kiwami 2

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 at 5:06 PM

Serving as a remastered version of 2006’s “Yakuza 2,” originally released on the Playstation 2, “Kiwami” is an enhanced and at times overwhelming game that deserves your time as much as any of the other big releases coming this season.

“Yakuza Kiwami 2” is, thus far, the easiest game in the series to jump right into — as it provides a detailed backstory for the previous entry in the series, as well as including a host of improvements to exploration, combat and mini-games. These aspects keep the player engaged as they explore the fictional district of Kamurocho in Tokyo as Kazama Kiryu, the fourth chairman of the Tojo Clan.

A year after the dramatic conclusion of “Yakuza 1/Kiwami,” Kiryu unwillingly returns to his old stomping ground to set records straight and save the clan that he has worked so hard for. Meanwhile, a vicious new yakuza boss — the unpredictable Ryuji Goda — steps in to take over the city through any means necessary. Kiryu, and thus the player, then take to the streets, solving problems with fists and helping out the characters of the city, in order to put a stop to Goda’s plan.

“Kiwami 2” is a dichotomy. To balance out the serious, emotional storyline of revenge and distrust, there are side stories, ranging from claw machines, to running a nightclub, to mini games like pool, darts and karaoke. It generally works well, and these diversions give a level of detail to the semi-open world of Tokyo unseen in many games like this.

The decidedly over-the-top combat hits harder than ever before, with each punch, kick and swing of random objects found on the ground registering with satisfying effects. For those familiar with beat-em-ups like “Double Dragon” or “Final Fight,” many of the concepts here will be familiar. Stat boosts can be applied to Kiryu, as well through experience gained from fights and zany side stories. Completion goals help increase combo power, granting new moves and abilities (or they just make Kiryu even more of a powerful fighter).

Despite all of the positives in the game, “Kiwami 2” is an incredibly niche title that a lot of people may have missed when it first came out, because frankly, it isn’t for everyone — and the game knows that. It doesn’t explain everything and a lot of understanding comes from the player exploring on their own. This game is one filled with character and style that just won’t be found anywhere else, making it all worth it. The story is understandable and plays out like a modern crime drama — full of intrigue and betrayals — but has enough side content and minigames to keep any player interested regardless of their familiarity with Japanese culture or yakuza.

“Yakuza Kiwami 2” is available now on PS4, with a PC version likely to come within the year.

Britton Rozzelle can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: games, arcade

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