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Yakuza Series – A review halfway through the series

Content of the article: "Yakuza Series – A review halfway through the series"

So let me preface this by saying that I went into the Yakuza series in Mid-2018, not knowing too much about it. I bought Yakuza Zero on PS4 when it got a few glowing reviews and was at a good price, so I just said "Why not?" The story seems serious at first and the first scene in the game seems to reflect that. It's almost cheesy how stoic and guarded our protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu, seems when interacting with his world. Then again, this is what being in the Yakuza does to someone, it seems. However, a little bit into the game, you realize that this serious tone is cut through like a knife by the game's humor. Oh boy, what a contrast it is to the incredibly engrossing and dramatic main story! When the game gets to its most serious, suddenly a really wacky situation will appear that will just make you bust out laughing. Kiryu plays the perfect straight man (in comedy) and finds himself in a really weird and downright funny situation most of the time. Now, Yakuza Zero is so full of activities that I almost paused the story at certain points just to play mini-games, including the Karaoke which is just so over the top.

By the time I finished the main story, including most if not all the substories, I just had to play Kiwami 1, which was overall more of the same great game in Zero, albeit shorter (about half the length of Zero). Same great story and humor from the previous entry.

Kiwami 2 again followed and was great. Now, this was the point where I realized that 3, 4 and 5 were not yet available for PS4 (I don't have a PS3 or PS Now), so I just decided to wait (for over a year -_-). Crazy part is I had bought Yakuza 6 right after Zero, but once I realized I wanted to follow the story in order, I had to shelf it.

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In late 2019, Yakuza Remastered Collection came out and I was super excited to play it. Now, having played Zero (new game in series) and Kiwami 1 and 2 (remakes of PS2 games), Yakuza 3 as "only a remaster" of a PS3 game felt a little different. The combat in Zero through Kiwami 2 was absolutely fine, but nothing to write home about. However, this aspect in Yakuza 3 felt a lot clunkier than I was used to. Couple that with the fact that Yakuza 3's story takes a while to pick up and I had to almost force myself to get through one part. I also had to skip a lot of the sub-stories in Yakuza 3 because they meant more fighting and time that I wasn't as crazy to put in as before and also I may have gotten spoiled by the ones in the other 3 previous titles. I finally plowed through Yakuza 3's story yesterday and it reminded me why I fell in love with the series in the first place. The story really makes you feel, and even the cheesiness of some parts is part of the charm.

Overall, I highly recommend the series to anyone. I was really skeptical at first, but I found that Yakuza and it's developers really know who they are and what they're trying to achieve, which helps a lot in making you feel invested in the story and lost in the world of Kamurocho (and a couple other places).


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