A little summary from the_peoples_champ (yeah I changed my username but it is still the same account not new).
Around this time last year I just completed Yakuza 3. I had mixed feelings about the ending but it did not stop me from enjoying the game. It was my favourite PS3 game I have played since owning a PS3; the game was very surprising in terms of content, it was my favourite game of last year. The Yakuza series became my favourite series this gen, I ended up putting over 100 hours (including Ultimate Skill) in Yakuza 3. The game had its moments throughout the entire story whether it was emotional or a plain predictable case.
When I heard about Yakuza 4 being released I was excited. I was ready to pre-order at any time but thought ‘why not wait’. The Yakuza 3 localisation was bad to some people; personally it didn’t bother me due to me buying Yakuza 3 at a cheap price. At the start of this year Europe and Australia got the steelbook editions. As soon as I heard it, I pre-ordered straight away. I have two copies of Yakuza 4 (thanks Sega for the Ichiban Box I love it!).
The Yakuza games are known as Ryu Ga Gotoku in Japan which means ‘Like A Dragon’, I sometimes be referring to that name in the review.
Now to review the game.
Yakuza 4 (Ryu Ga Gotoku 4) was released in Japan last year when we received Yakuza 3. Sega has done a tremendous job in localising Yakuza 4, everything that was missing in Yakuza 3 (hostess bars) is back in Yakuza 4. The only thing cut from Yakuza 4 is the AnswerxAnswer quiz mini game based mostly on Japanese culture and the Japanese Intro with the song called 'Butterfly City' (licence).
In Yakuza 4 you play as four main characters, 3 new characters along with the 'Dragon of Dojima' Kiryu Kazuma. Shun Akiyama, the 'Lifeline of Kamurocho' who is a money-lender/loan shark. Taiga Saejima, a fugitive on death row who killed 18 men back in '85. And Masayoshi Tanimura the 'Parasite of Kamurocho', who is a cop that delivers his own brand of 'Justice'. Each character has a different fighting style, Akiyama is fast, Saejima is a powerhouse but slow, Tanimura relies on parries and technique and Kiryu is balanced.
The story is the most important aspect of the Yakuza games. I won’t go into the story in this review. The story is much more darker and grittier than the Yakuza 3 storyline. If you did not like the Orphanage part of Yakuza 3 (it was alright in the first playthrough for me) then you will probably like the starting in Yakuza 4 (although it is confusing). The storyline will probably take you around 25 hours or more to complete depending on if you are doing the mini games and sub-stories.
The fighting gameplay is back better than ever, with more manly violence (especially with Taiga Saejima). The battles feel fresh with the three new characters, I do prefer Kiryu (due to his counter moves) but using Tanimura’s parry and Akiyama’s fast lighting speed kicks it is really fun and refreshing. The only bad thing is the lock on system; it is the same as Yakuza 3. Wrestling games from the N64 had better lock on system than Yakuza 3 and 4.
The levelling system has changed and is different compared to Yakuza 3. When your character levels up, the health and heat meter automatically upgrades but you get ability points, which you can spend on learning new moves for your character. The highest/maximum level for every character is level 20. Revelations are back in Yakuza 4,
The mini games are back and better than ever. You can get easily distracted from the story by playing the mini games in Yakuza 4. You can play pool, bowling, table tennis (new), golf, gamble, fishing and more. There is online leaderboards for this game, you can check what rank you are with each mini game (I'm not sure if it's region or worldwide ranks). You can create your own hostess with Akiyama, train a rookie fighter with Saejima (Hideo Kojima reference), stop and resolve problems with the police scanner with Tanimura, or take on gang members with Kiryu.
The sounds in the game are the same as Yakuza 3 with the jingles from the stores and environments around you. The main soundtrack is great as in the battle themes and chase themes. The soundtrack has a variety of genres ranging from Acid Jazz (Whiskey & Rhapsody sounds like a Jamiroquai track) to Rock (Massive Fire is Saejima’s battle theme which suits his brutal nature in battle).
The only issues I have with this game are the text dialogue, graphics and the map. The dialogue can annoy you if you just want to get on with the story (non playable characters mostly interrupt). The graphics have slightly been upgraded (not many jaggies as Yakuza 3), but you get the same annoying graphical issues that were in Yakuza 3. Kamurocho is the main setting in each Yakuza game. In Yakuza 4, Kamurocho is the only setting (no Okinawa from Yakuza 3) but you get a underground mall, sewers, parking lot, docks and rooftops. I just knew most of Kamurocho from the back of my hand (because I played Yakuza 3 a lot).
Get this game if you are into Japanese games, especially if you are into RPGs. You get a good story, likable/ dislikeable characters and mini games plus sub-stories to distract you. The game is worth the money as you can probably put in around 100 hours into getting 100% overall.
Please feel free to discuss anything regarding the game or review, I will be happy to discuss anything about it.