The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
If I’m to believe Yakuza 3’s depiction of Japan, a visit to the
country would consist of being constantly accosted by punks while
walking through markets, being asked out on dates by random beautiful
women in burger joints, and performing menial tasks like going from
shop to shop looking for dog toys. You’d get the occasional flash of
excitement in the form of shirtless fistfights on the rooftops, but
these would be few and far between.
For a game rooted so heavily
in a tale of organized crime, Yakuza 3 is filled to the brim with
wholly unexciting errands. In those moments where it does shift into
all-out action, the gameplay feels incredibly dated. The brawling feels
distinctly last-gen, complete with horrendous collision detection.
You’ll unlock some vicious finishing moves and techniques that provide
more wiggle room in terms of improvisation, but the combat feels
downright mechanical when put up against other action games on the market.
Leveling up your abilities is a fairly basic ordeal,
requiring you to funnel experience into one of four categories.
However, these upgrades never do much to significantly change the way
you approach combat. It’s a minimal nod to RPG conventions, but no
matter how much you’ve upgraded, you’ll still groan every time some
gangsters want to fight because they think you looked at them crooked.
An overall lack of polish is evident in many aspects of the game. Let's
say you're wielding a giant couch as a weapon and a quicktime event
occurs in the middle of a fight. The couch will magically disappear
from your hands for the duration of the QTE, then it will pop up again
as soon as you're done. If you're stumbling down the street in a
drunken stupor and some gang members attack you, you'll become
immediately lucid and fight them gracefully, only to return to your
intoxicated stumble the moment they're successfully dispatched. I'll
stop there for the sake of brevity, but rest assured you won't go 15
minutes in this game without seeing plenty more like this.
of the repetitive fights, gameplay is mostly confined to walking around
and talking to people in an effort to advance the story. When Yakuza 3
comes down to these open-world elements, it’s trounced by a title as
old as Grand Theft Auto III. Downtown Ryukyu may be heavily populated,
but the lack of any real interaction makes it feel like a ghost town.
Numerous activities are available, from surprisingly complete
recreations of golf, pool, and darts to afterthoughts like the dreadful karaoke minigame. Some of these serve as decent distractions when you
want to take a break from the main quest, but the scant XP and cash
bonuses you receive from them won’t do anything to make the core
gameplay more tolerable.
Yakuza 3 does offer an involved,
lengthy story for those with the patience to wade through the
repetition and annoyances. Fans who have followed Kazuma through the
previous installments should enjoy watching him return to mob life to
protect his orphanage. Yakuza 3 carves its own identity and characters,
making it more than just “Grand Theft Auto in Japan.” If you don’t feel
a strong connection with the story, however, the dated gameplay
mechanics and lack of polish do a fine job of sapping most of the
enjoyment you could potentially receive.
Email the author Dan Ryckert, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.