The lights are on
Yakuza 3 is the next installment of the hardly regarded Yakuza series. Does the Dragon of Dojima strike with deadly efficiency or does he lose his way and get beat down by the gangs?
Yakuza 3 has an interesting play style to it. It is an action game at heart but feels like a small open world RPG. By small I mean the two different cities are very small areas compared to a GTA or RDR but they still have a ton of stuff to do and places to go.
The RPG side is fairly basic, you fight and gain experience. Once you gain enough you can level up one for four categories that will increase health, heat, and different attacks and finishes. Also you can craft weapons and armor with a rather extensive item system. Everything works well in these areas, you always have enough money for items and you find enough fights to gain experience.
The action side is what you see most the game. The fighting is a recall of the old beat'em ups of yesteryear which is good. You can use a lock-on to focus on one enemy or just wing it and line up your shots instead. I preferred to stay away from lock-on because it shifts to the closest enemy and can confuse you but it works well against bosses or solo enemies. You can block, counter, throw and do nasty looking finishing attacks right along with punches, kicks and strong attacks. The battle system is easy to use and hard to completely master. Luckily you don't need to master it to beat the game.
In general the game plays very well. The camera is a little shifty at times but nothing you can't overcome. The RPG elements aren't even noticeable until you level up so they aren't something to worry over. However the game isn't perfect.
The battles, outside of quest or boss ones, are random. You will be walking around either one of the cities and suddenly some guy comes up to you and says, "Hey let's fight..." basically. You fight, win and get items and a little experience, not a bad deal. However these battles literally happen every 15 to 20 seconds. I would run down streets that should only take a few seconds to travel and I would end up in three different battles on the way. It got annoying to the point I would look for the guy that would start the battle and run around him. Later on the experience doesn't help much anyway.
The enemies seem to block a little too much. Not a major issue but it prolongs battles a bit too much sometimes, more of an annoyance than anything else.
The item system is a nice addition but it is something that could have been left out or made better in some way. The weapon shop owner should sell all the basic modification items and some items cost way to mush for their worth. In battle weapons can be picked up from enemies and I didn't notice the armor making a huge difference.
Overall the game plays very well. The problems are more annoying than real problems. The item system could have been done a little better but it's hardly a bad thing.
The story links with the last two installments of the series. Don't worry if you haven't played them Yakuza 3 has summary videos for you of the first two games. How accurate they are is beyond me but I watched them and knew what was going on in a general sense, meaning I never played the first two.
The story is pretty strong in this game. Land disputes turn into a struggle to protect what matters most. They spew out a lot of "don't give ups" and things along those lines, gets a little cheesy but they fit the story and characters.
If you are a fan of the series you will notice a lot of the faces in the game and the names that are tossed around. Yakuza 3 also tosses in plenty of new faces to get to know and learn about and you'll spend a lot of time getting to know them.
All the voicing was kept in Japanese with English sub-titles. I think this was the better option and the voicing was excellent. The writing was solid for the most part with only a few questionable lines here and there. The cast of characters is also very good but I feel that there are so many that some get forgotten after they are introduced until they are need in the story. Others are right there with you the whole game and seem to have great development.
I feel if you liked the other games you'll enjoy this one too. If you are like me and have never played a Yakuza this is a good one to start with. The story is solid but not one that will surprise you too much.
Neither of these are strong points in Yakuza 3. The sound of punches and kicks sound a bit to comical and the guns sound more like pop guns than real guns. Weapons do make swishing noises but swords and tonfa sound the same going through the air. The sounds aren't bad but they could have diversified how things sound.
The music is slightly better. The fighting music kicks in during battles and it gives you a little fire when you hear it. Likewise with the boss music but neither are that memorable. The music adds little to the overall feel of the story and the game but never really feels out of place.
The cut scenes look incredible. the facial animation is top notch, the bodies look wonderful and the coloration of everything is just awesome. If the whole game was like this it would easily be one of the best looking console games on the market.
In game is a different story. The game looks fairly average in game with NPCs having little detail and many that look like twins or triplets. Bosses all look different but their cronies all look the same or have two or three different looks.
Amazing cut scenes with average looking in game, it's a shame that you see a ton of in game and not as much cut scenes.
I beat the main story of the game in 25 hours during which I did some of the extra quest. I say this because after 25 hours I had only 13% of the total completion rate done. The game has a ton of continuing play value after you beat it and it even has some replay for the hard difficulties. I hate talking multiplayer but it is required because of how the industry is going, this game has none but it doesn't take away anything at all.
If you like the Yakuza series this is a nice addition. If you want to start the series this game will get you into it. It is massive and a time sink but it is worth it if you like the game.
(My review is not an average of my numbers but what I feel the game as a whole should get. the numbers under each category are based on what I think those categories are in general when compared to most games on the market today.)
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