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Review: Yakuza 4 - PS3

by Steven Williamson on 31 March 2011, 16:20 4.15

Tags: Sega (TYO:6460), Action/Adventure

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A spot of fishing after lunch, perhaps?

Yakuza 4 already eats away at your time as if it were an MMO, but the four new story arcs take replay value to an unprecedented level. All four stories have numerous twists and turns and all four characters, who range from a crooked cop to a former Yakuza and escaped prisoner, are cleverly linked. Though it takes some time to get there - and you do have to wade through reams of unnecessary dialogue along the way - everything comes together very nicely. And through good character building and impressive cut-scenes, the storyline proves to be a real highlight. Furthermore, each of the four characters offers something unique in terms of combat which forces you to adapt your fight style and ultimately get a bit more out of the Yakuza experience than if you were to just plough through with the familiar move-set of Yakuza's main character, Kazuma Kiryu.

Combat can get repetitive - and you may notice many of the animations from Yakuza 3 - but rarely does head-stamping, smashing objects over heads and using the environment around you to beat up folk, lack intensity or get too boring. The combination of button-mashing, QTEs and precision timing makes for some fluid and exciting fight scenes. Heat moves are back too, allowing you to fill up your gauge and then pull off some jaw-breaking manoeuvres. Though fights can take place at any moment - and it can get a little frustrating when you're off on a side-quest only to get confronted by another punk wanting a piece of you - being able to improve your character and build him up with new moves and combos, plus the visual spectacle of the fight, proves to be all the motivation you need to make it a worthwhile pursuit.







Outside of combat, there’s plenty of other stuff to throw yourself into and a variety of side-quests to appeal to every type of gamer. There’s arcade games, card games and sports games - everything ranging from the traditional to the downright bizarre, from pool and blackjack to erotic rhytmn games and even a side-scrolling shooter. Side-quests and some mini-games often serve to add more to the back-story of Yakuza 4 and you'll spend plenty of time chasing people through the city streets, trying to stop them by throwing bottles, or training up fighters to win tournaments. Largely though, side games are just here to be enjoyed should you want to indulge yourself in a spot of something random. The 'Create a No. 1 Hostess!' quest, for example (playing as Akiyama), takes you scouting for girls and allows to dress them up and train young ladies to become the number one dancer at the caberet club. Similarly bizarre is an utterly pointless massage game, with a young girl who relieves your tension when you twiddle your thumb-sticks. More traditional pursuits such as poker and bowling also make an appearance alongside Japanese past-times such as mahjong and pachinko. There's a lot to see and a lot to do; and though some of it is absolute garbage, there's plenty of enjoyable light relief to distract you from the relentless combat. Just don't expect the flirty girls at the hostess bar to give you any added extras.

Continued overleaf...