Summary: What a great idea: take the gangsters you know and love from the Yakuza series and put them up against zombies, quarantining them in Tokyo's red-light district. Oh, and give them guns. Lots of guns with unlimited ammo. We've seen zombie sandbox games before, but this is the only one where you can take a break to sing karaoke and drink with sexy (non-undead) girls of the night. But is that good enough to make you want to play another zombie game?
Excerpt: Yakuza: Dead Souls is stupid. I spent a huge amount of time running around, pumping bullets into an endless stream of zombies, stopping only because I’d run out of ammunition. After I got bored of shooting waves of undead I went to an encircled spa where I could have a bath and play table tennis against a young prostitute.
Conclusion: There are times when the game does come together and you’ll have zombie-slaying fun. Whenever you’re outside in the open with a good weapon, the gameplay picks up. Outside, you can maneuver easily and the camera is workable. However, it’s just not enough to make this game good. Tedious gameplay, a frustrating camera, and cumbersome aiming are the three main negative factors.
Conclusion: Zombies have been a big hit with video game developers in the last few years, but I doubt that the Yakuza series really needed them to spice things up. I suspect that everyone treated the Dead Souls spin-off as a project to cash in on a trend while the core of the team worked on the soon-to-arrive fifth full game in the series.
Excerpt: With four games under its belt, Sega has taken a new approach to its beloved Yakuza series and added zombies and lots and lots of guns. Yakuza: Dead Souls is far more spin-off than typical Yakuza game. It’s an awkward transition that’s peppered with great fan service, but its obtuse control setup aims to hook longtime fans and fans of zombie action games and ultimately pleases neither. While it falls short of expectations, it’s still a game with some charm.
Pros: Playing main characters from previous Yakuza games, The entertaining side missions, Modding and upgrading weapons
Cons: The slow and frustrating auto aim and camera, Timing those Heat Snipes, Those tight interior areas
Excerpt: Japan’s game developers seem to be heading down a strange path in 2012. Several beloved game franchise sequels coming from the Land Of The Rising Sun this year have not only turned out to be disappointing, but disappointing in a way that defies conventional explanation. Ninja Gaiden 3 is one example, a title that had everything that made the series famous stripped from it and replaced with “features” so bizarre and confusing it made you wonder what was going on during...
Excerpt: Yakuza: Dead Souls has two demographics of gamers lined up in its cross-hairs: fans of the previous Yakuza games and fans of zombie games. Unfortunately, Yakuza: Dead Souls is neither a good Yakuza game nor a good zombie game so the vast majority of both fan-bases are going to be left hungry.
Pros: It’s here, but only the Yakuza fanboys will find it. It’s buried deep under layers of frustration and repetition.
Cons: Third person shooting derails one of the most creative and enjoyable franchises of this generation.
Excerpt: Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima and one of the most respected and feared men in Tokyo, receives a phone call that his stepdaughter Haruka has been kidnapped. This is the sort of story that's supposed to get your blood boiling, your anger to overwhelm your entire being, and next thing you know you're one man standing against many. This is how Yakuza: Dead Souls starts off and, really, if that was the entire plot it'd be a very short game.
Conclusion: Going into Yakuza: Dead Souls I had some reservations, but after playing it, I'm happy to say that this works surprisingly well. There are still some baffling choices on the design front, why make me drive a forklift around when the driving controls are worse than those in combat, but for the most part it's a polished experience.
Excerpt: Zombies are the new World War II. A few years ago every game was set in World War II. Then there was a period of no war stories left to be told. Variety was common (yes, that sounds like a paradox), until the arrival of zombies. Every game had to have a zombie mode while some developers released entire zombie expansion packs!