Review: Yakuza 4 (2011) (PlayStation 3)

The following is a review of Yakuza 4 for the PlayStation 3.

A masterpiece

I picked up Yakuza 4 without having played any of the previous iterations of the game. After looking at reviews online I thought it might have a pretty good story, and provide a good amount of entertainment.

After playing a little under an hour of the game I was quite impressed what I had seen. Used copies of Yakuza 3 were available locally, at a pretty decent price, so I decided to pick up a copy of Yakuza 3 and play that first (since Yakuza 1 and 2 were a little harder to find, and more importantly on the PlayStation 2).

You can find my review of Yakuza 3 elsewhere, but I’ll save you the effort - I found it to be one of the best games I’ve played.

So when I started Yakuza 4 back up I had high expectations for this.

Instead of sticking with one character in this game, like you do in the others of the series, you play through the stories of 4 different characters who then combine forces for a final act. Each characters has their own distinctive style which can honestly be a little frustrating at first (especially with the second character, when you get thrust in a very difficult battle early on). However, their styles match their character, and by the time you finish their distinct acts you’ll be in complete control of their style. Otherwise combat hasn’t changed much. For newcomers, it’s mostly short range attacks. You can get away with button ‘mashing’ for many of the average battles, but bosses may require actual planning and thought. With a few exceptions, I found combat to be easier in this iteration than in Yakuza 3.

The game mostly takes place in one area, but instead of being restricted to the streets like last time you can now travel on the roofs and in underground areas. For the most part, however, you’ll find yourself on the streets and use the others for either main or sub-story activities. Chase segments have also decreased, and I believe become easier. There was one of these that kicked my butt in Yakuza 3, but this time my three losses were from one particuarly difficult battle (already mentioned above).

The story is the best part of the game, and one might argue it surpasses the story of Yakuza 3. As the story goes on each of the four characters acts through certain events, with each coming to the realization at the end that their paths are tied together.

A number of characters from previous iterations make an appearance, but even if you haven’t played the previous games you’ll still have an understanding of what’s going on (you just might not feel the full impact).

With combat being what it is, and the story a masterpiece the game already has 5 of 5 stars from me. However, for the U.S. release of Yakuza 4 they kept in many of the mini-games that were in the original release. While the virtual fighter makes an appearance again, and is a pain in the butt this time, I found the other mini-games (that I played) to be rather fun.

By the time I finished the main story, and finishing almost all the sub-stories I could, as well as all the fighter trainings (optional) and one of the hostess trainings (optional) I was at 59 hours and 43 minutes, with 51.13% completion. While playing Yakuza 3 I had decided that I liked the game and story so much that I would pick up the first two in the series. Once I’ve finished some of the other games in my catalog I’ll definitely be going through Yakuza 1 and 2, and then re-playing 3 and 4.

For a near-perfect story and all-around great experience, I give Yakuza 4 5 of 5 stars.