My first dive into the Yakuza series was earlier this year with my review of Yakuza 6 and I absolutely fell in love with the series. The game offered a very intricate story that felt as if you were watching a top tier television series as well as enjoying the freedom that came with the world in it. After I finished Yakuza 6, I was told to try out the older games in the series starting with Yakuza 0 upwards. I found the older games to be a testiment to how ambitious SEGA was at that time to provide gamers with a very different experience.
Go back to 2006 and you have Yakuza 2, the ambitious sequel of the successful new IP by SEGA. The game was well received for its incredibly intriguing story and proved that sequels were not always below the original. 4 sequels later and it seems as though there is plenty of steam left in the series, enough to warrant a re-release of some of the original titles. Using the recently created Dragon Engine, Yakuza 1 and 2 were rebuilt with stunning visual upgrades and a balance to the fighting and leveling system whether it was for the best or worst.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 takes place a year after the events of the first game in which Kiryu has been brought back into society and looks to further his severed ties with the Togo clan but unbeknownst to everyone, he will find himself dragged into a war once again. What I find fascinating about this series is how the basic principles of the series are always the same but the details and execution of scenes and dialogue always make each game stand out.
The fighting in this game is reminiscent of Yakuza 6 which is regarded to have an overall basic battle system. Compared to other previous titles, Kiwami 2 offers a slightly upgraded system that allows you to carry your weapons with you throughout the game, a feature that was absent in Yakuza 6. You are able to hold items that are dropped by enemies or purchased by arms dealers throughout the city making fights a little more strategic and giving you the opportunity to hold items until the going gets tough. The improvements also include a weapons inventory, charged heat actions, as well as heat actions available by interacting with the world more.
Speaking of toughest, some of these bosses are tough cookies. I found myself several times meeting the wrong end of the fist, leading Kiryu to being knocked out making me decide if I want to lose my pride by switching to easy mode. These enemies were challenging without in any way becoming frustrating roadblocks left behind by past level design although there are some cases of that in the game. For example, in sections in the game in which you must ascend or descend buildings there are often times large individuals with items whos sole job is to use a charge attack while not budging, with the only way to defeat them is to spam attacks while dodging their one attack. This type of old level design should have been taken out of the game but not at all does it ruin the flow of the game, it’s more or less a minor roadblock on a much larger road.
I found much more to do in Kamurocho this time around than I did in Yakuza 6 which surprised me as a newcomer to the series. Among the many side stories, the game includes a few more minigames as well as Virtual- On, an arcade game created back in 1995. One of the newer modes is the improved clan-creator in which you side with Goro Majima and his construction company to defend certain building sites from invaders. The mode is decent with no real standout other than the fact that it is more about defense than it is attacking other sides. To me, THE standout mode has to be the Caberet Club storyline. With it’s complete 180 in tone compared to the games main story, the Caberet Club side story revolves around you directing hosts to assigned customers, keeping them happy, and making enough money for upgrades for the hosts and it all culminates with a Grand Prix against some of the biggest Clubs.
One of the newer pieces of content from Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the new mode focusing on Goro Majima. This chapter focuses on what happened to Majima after the events of Yakuza 1 and the 10 Billion Yen Incident leading him to create Majima Construction. The addition to the package as a whole is well welcome and I have nothing bad to say about playing as one of the best characters in the series.
The visuals in the game are just as you’d expect from the Dragon Engine. Each location is brought to life with the brand new textures and lighting, giving Kamurocho and Sotenburi much more life and beauty. At one time, I found myself just looking off of the bridge into the distance wondering how a remake could look this nice, until a group of thugs came up and a few of them found themselves being thrown over said bridge.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is more of the same great story and gameplay one has come to expect from SEGA with some well welcome tweaks to the original title. Where some technical issues have not changed, there were enough improvements that it became hardly noticeable after time. The underground world of Kamurocho and Sotenburi is more rich and beautiful than ever with each character and location telling a story by just looking at them. If given the opportunity I would highly recommend playing Yakuza 1 and 0 before playing this one as it will offer more in depth lore before taking back the streets once more.
Nuke The Fridge Score: 9/10