Summary: Parents need to know that gangster life is gangster life, regardless of the setting. This game's depiction of the Tokyo criminal underworld is as violent, explicit, and morally rudderless as anything we've seen. The content is graphic and intense, showing brutality and blood, seedy sexuality, and unrestrained foul language, all with a child character looking on.
Conclusion: I have recently become slightly disillusioned about the state of plot and dialogue in video games (possibly to be covered in some future post) but Yakuza’s is at least as good as a pulp mystery novel. This makes sense and is perfectly acceptable since that’s also the type of game it is. I have heard it suffered severely through localization, and that does sound plausible.
Excerpt: Yakuza may be set in the criminal underworld, and allows you to wander the streets involving yourself in many tasks besides the captivating main storyline, but where the GTA comparisons start is exactly where they end. It’s totally unfair for such a different game to be constantly mentioned in the same breath of Rockstar’s mega popular franchise. The living city is now part of our gaming landscape, be it Grand Theft Auto or not.
Excerpt: Poor old Kazuma Kiryu hasn’t had the best luck of late. Feared by his enemies, respected by his peers and poised to start up his own Yakuza family, he took the fall for his best friend’s murder of one of Japan’s top gang bosses and was sent down for ten long years. Now, finally released from incarceration, every big- and small-time crook and thug in the Far East wants him dead, and there’s almost nowhere safe to hide.
Excerpt: In SEGA's Yakuza, you play Kazuma Kiryu - " the Dragon of the Dojima family ". He's well hard, which, you quickly realise, is just as well. The game begins in one of Tokyo's vice-fuelled suburbs on 30 September 1995. Life is good. You've quite a reputation as a bit of a nutter. You've got a lovely girlfriend, Yumi, and a mate, Nishiki, who's like a brother to you. Things are going swimmingly until one of your clan's head honchos goes and kidnaps your bird.
Excerpt: Yakuza comes to us from long time industry powerhouse SEGA, and veteran developer Amusement Vision, makers of Shining Tears for the PS2, but may be better remembered for their wacky Super Monkey Ball series on the Gamecube. Interestingly enough, they also made the Virtua Striker and Virtua NBA arcade games of mid to late 90's. Visually, this title is pretty sharp looking.
Excerpt: In this age of cynical disillusionment, the Yakuza is perhaps the only international crime organization that North Americans can still look on with any kind of nostalgia. The once mysterious tongs are now thought of as little more than drug running slave traffickers. The Mafia’s suave counterculture image replaced by balding men with fourth-grade educations clad in track suits, partially because they're too fat to wear anything else but mostly because they just don't...