Review: Yakuza 3 (2010) (PlayStation 3)

The following is a review of Yakuza 3, for the PlayStation 3.

Around the time Yakuza 4 was being released I began hearing about the game, although after further research I do remember hearing about those who had asked actual Yakuza to play a Yakuza game (the 3rd specifically). Either way, everything I had heard about 4 suggested I would like it, especially when I heard it had a great story.

So I picked up Yakuza 4 and after less than an hour of play decided I liked what I had seen and played. Since the series is basically one big story I decided to hunt down another game in the series, which was this one, Yakuza 3.

Over the course of about a week I put almost 33 hours into the game and finished it on the normal difficulty. Having done so I promptly went out a picked up a copy of Yakuza 2 and ordered a copy of the first Yakuza. Obviously, that means I’m giving this game a high rating, and here’s why.

While I have not yet played the first two games in the series I was able to get some idea of what happened thanks to the inclusion of story overviews, presented in video format, in both the main menu as well as when the game begins. This allowed me to get some idea of what happened, despite not having as close a relationship with the characters as someone who played the previous games in the series.

The story itself is rather robust, and ties together rather nicely in the end (although I’m on the fence about how the ending worked out). The main character doesn’t always tie things together as quickly as I’d expect, but I suppose he does have to play dumb a little so the slower players can catch on. I’d argue that the story is on par with Metal Gear Solid 4 (although not so difficult to understand, especially if you didn’t play the other games in the series like I) and Lost Odyssey.

The characters within the game are all very life-like, making it extremely easy to like, or at least understand, them.

The audio is almost entirely Japanese, save when an American speaks in English, and the entire game (with the exception of bits spoken during battles) is subtitled. I like watching movies in their original language with subtitles, so I liked this presentation.

While I’ve only put 33 hours into the game I only touched upon the amount of content within. From what I can tell I did less than 40% of the optional substories and played only a handful of the games within.

The game also features a rather robust new game plus system where you can start a new game with some amount of stuff, but with substories and other completion lists reset. You can also continue playing after the game has ended to complete items beforehand, as you can create new clear saves in this extended play as well. This is actually the first game I’ve played where you can do that (normally clear saves are created only when you finish the last boss, if at all).

One might argue that combat is repetitive, but it was only near the very end of the game, when I was tracking down locker keys and unlocking secret menu items, that I started running away from fights. At least on the normal difficulty the majority of the fights are not that difficult. In fact, I had to continue more during segments that required I chase someone down or escape than during fights. You can use normal or strong attacks, block and dodge, or use a variety of special attacks, as well as use items within the environment. As you walk around you’ll be challenged by various people. One could argue that this is what gets repetitive, but, again, I had no difficulty making this enjoyable by changing up what I did to defeat these enemies. Defeating enemies also allows you level up your character’s abilities, which makes for more variety.

As already noted above Yakuza 4 is actually why I picked up this game, and I’ve purchased the first two in the series, so I’ll undoubtedly be playing this game again. For these reasons I give Yakuza 3 a 5 of 5 stars.