Yakuza 3 (Also known as Ryū ga Gotoku 3) is the third game in the series released by Sega on the Playstation 2 and 3 consoles. The name suggests the overall fundamental of the storyline however to put it simply, it is possibly what Grand Theft Auto would look like if it was a bit less about violence and was placed in Japanese cities. Considering that I havent played Yakuza 1 or 2, does this game still have an intriguing storyline and a gameplay that keeps me hooked? Read more after the jump!
Kazuma and Harka have departed Kamurocho to seek a new life in Okinawa. Away from the mainland, the two are now managing an orphanage for kids struggling with various hardships.
Unfortunately, this idyllic lifestyle is interrupted when their facility is taken over by a sudden real-estate pact. The national defense force and tourism conglomerates make an aggressive move to acquire property within Okinawa, and Kazuma becomes another victim as he and the children lose their facility.
The local community, including Kazuma fight back, triggering an incident that soon involves Kazuma’s old yakuza ties, the Tojo Clan, and threatens to become a major political issue on a national scale.
Two shooting incidents occur simultaneously in Tokyo and Okinawa, both benefiting the real-estate deal. Having two people who he trusted involved in the case, Kazuma immediately returns to Kamurocho to deal with the situation.
Thankfully, there is the option on the main menu to get a video recap of the first two games. I personally haven’t watched it since I first picked up the game month ago, but I believe that it goes for well over half an hour, therefore fully explaining every concept required. Of course, nothing would beat actually playing the games but it is a good alternative if you, like myself, cannot.
The storyline of this game crosses between the two timeframes, January 2007 and March 2009, making a new viewer potentially confused, however it soon settles into its proper timeline, with the evident game-given spoilers making you wonder when it happened. The storyline doesn’t start out how you would expect, with the Yakuza title being on the game name, you might have expected some big brawls and all that stuff, well no, instead you are forced into an Okinawan orphanage looking after 8 kids and their childish needs, which is a bit wishy-washy until they finally get into the actual darker storyline which ends up much more interesting. I wouldn’t consider it a perfect storyline, there is a significant amount of filler content and storyline components that would be fine missed, but it builds up the hours and at least it gives you a reason to fight. There are also 100 sub-quests to play through during the course of the game which have small storylines that add a bit of variety to the game.
As stated above, the main cast for the first few chapters of the game seems to be comprised mostly of children who have their personalities and histories investigated through various events within the game. However, this can be investigated whilst playing since the main characters of the game remain adults, primarily located in Okinawa. The main character is Kazuma, an ex-Yakuza who was the primary character of the first two games. He retains an overall serious personality, however it is easily broken by a more compassionate side. Despite this, he is still a hard man to beat and retains an overall seriousness in battle. He is also joined by Haruka, a girl who he rescued during the events of Yakuza 1 and is a daughter somewhat to him, Rikiya who is the secondary fighter in the game and follows Kazuma’s orders, despite his attempts to leave him behind as well as several other characters both storyline related and well, date related.
There is a diversity of characters however, so many that they offer a character map to show how each of the characters are related to each other and an up-to-date biography on each of the characters in comparison to the storyline, therefore reducing the need to think who or where that character is from.
To start off with, the designs of all the towns and the area the orphanage on is really well detailed, with lots of Japanese text coming at you from every spare corner, and authentic looking stores that don’t look like they were mass produced by the graphics department and pasted into the game. It is also good to see that the areas are never ghost towns and littered with people as would be expected from the districts shown in the game. The only problem is, sometimes when you are in a rush, you get distracted by the lights and end up getting attacked. That being said, the graphics quality is just above average, however this game was released a few years ago in Japan, and I expect Yakuza 4 to be even better in regards to overall quality.
The character designs in this game are of a decent quality. All the characters appearances suit their personalities and the type of environment the game wants to set them in, both environment wise (City based individuals will look more modern whilst Okinawa based individuals will look more casual to suit the environments) as well as career wise (Politician, Yakuza member, Club Owner). All the storyline characters do have the uniqueness in appearances however general battle enemies seem to have a limited number of designs usable, however I have grown to be expecting of this. Three of the characters, Kazuma, Haruka and Rikia have alternate clothing during the game which can be altered at the end of the game at will, however some of the clothing, such as Kazuma’s Okinawa shirt doesnt seem as detailed as the others. There are also DLC costumes which you got upon purchase of the game, some of which were creepy at best.
The pre-rendered cinematics within the game were of very good quality and were used constantly during the game, even in mid-conversation. They were used effectively and the only real problem was you couldn’t skip past them if you had already heard that speech, although a minor fault at best.
The music within the game generally consists of instrumental tracks of the badass styles that one would expect from a game like this. Very enjoyable overall and suits the mood of both the battles and the cinematics. For those that want some lyrical music, then you can take the female characters within the game to karaoke where you can, as you would expect, sing with them. An example above is of one of the songs selectable where each girl has one song they will sing in a variety of genres. Kazuma also has a song which you may sing after the female sings. It overall does well to retain the Japanese system by replacing the script with the corresponding Romaji. A draw or a hinderance to some is the retention of the Japanese dub with no english dub, to me it was not annoying in any way and it did keep the authenticity of the game, since after all, it is set in Japan, so for realism, it should remain this way.
The battle system used in the game generally involves the use of fists and weapons to brawl against several opponents, usually in a 1 versus many scenario. Generally, I found myself using fists to battle most of the time, since weapons usually had a very limited number of hits before they became useless. What I did like however was the fact that every sign, bike or stick lying on the ground became a potential weapon for you, so if you wanted an epic killing blow, you could pick up a heavy sign and smash them over the head with it, showing the creative potential of this game. Still, as I said before, half the time you will be attacking with your fists.
The other main draw is that there is not just the battle system and storyline carrying this game through. You are also able to take part in several games such as darts, bowling, karaoke, mahjong and several card games just to name a few. These mostly have trophies attached to them however are a good way to get hard to find items and for general fun. They are significantly harder then your normal Wii-Sports games however so be wary, that 270 points in bowling might seem easy in Wii-Bowling, but much harder in this game. With the DLC content provided, you can also play 2-player versions of these games. Also on offer is a Colosseum system, hitman hunt, golf, fishing and several other activities to enjoy at your leisure.
This game does provide ample amount of replayability through multiplayer games DLC, multiple difficulty modes, several activities to enjoy and 100 sub-quests for you to enjoy. This could easily take 100+ hours to complete overall.
Personally, this game was a lot of fun and it was well worth the time spent on it. The immersive and unique storyline alongside several other gameplay options mean’t that the game did not get boring fast. It is a shame that a few things were cut from this version in comparison to the Japanese version, but with Yakuza 4 coming out early next year, it is evident that it has been received well and that it is a series that shall not end here.
+ Overall unique and interesting storyline.
+ Sub-quests to provide a number of different mini-stories.
+ Open-ended world.
– Storyline starts off slow
– Filler content evident.
+ A diverse number of characters.
+ A relationship chart which is actively updated during gameplay.
+ All characters have their storyline covered in either this game or a prior game, no pointless characters.
– Lots of children in the first parts of the story.
+ Creatively decorated world.
+ Character designs are overall good.
+ Pre-rendered cutscenes of appropriate quality.
– A few clothing designs could have been done better.
Music/Voice Acting: 8
+ Nice instrumental music.
+/- Japanese dubbing only.
+ Battle system works well for the game.
+ Large number of weapon options.
+ Good collection of mini-games from bowling to golf.
– Weapons have a very limited number of hits before broken.
Personal Opinion: 9
Overall Score: 8