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Yakuza Kiwami 2 Is Coming To The West, And We Got To Play It

by Jeff Cork on Mar 17, 2018 at 07:30 PM

Sega hosted an art exhibit at a Los Angeles gallery today, celebrating the art, including the designs created by tattoo artist Horitomo, for Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, That game is still a month away from release, but Sega isn't about to let the franchise lose any momentum. As part of the event, the publisher revealed it is bringing the Yakuza 2 remake Yakuza Kiwami 2 to the West. The update includes visual updates, additional minigames, and an all-new three-chapter campaign starring Goro Majima.

The game follows in the footsteps of last year's Yakuza Kiwami, which was a remake of the first game in the series. Kiwami 2 includes new minigames, including golf bingo; arcade games Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Fighter 2.1, and Virtua On; and the cabaret minigame from Yakuza 0. Majima can build his own clan, too, similar to the new mode introduced in Yakuza 6. Audio has been rerecorded for the update, and the localization team has revisited the original script to ensure that it's as faithful to the Japanese original as possible.

"There’s a lot of different stuff that originally was in Kiwami that they rebuilt in the Dragon Engine now as well," says localization producer Scott Strichart. "All the stuff that got left out at the back end of Kamurocho is back in, the champion district and all that stuff. So Kamurocho is a little bigger than it was in 6, actually. And then in addition there’s a whole other city, Sotenbori, like 0. It’s not quite as big as it was in 0, because it’s based off the original version of Yakuza 2."

That all sounds great, but how does it play? I was fortunate enough to sneak in a gameplay session before the announcement, and I felt right at home. I was dropped into the story right when Kiryu meets up again with his friend/rival Majima, who is now running a construction site from his base of operations in the underground base, Purgatory. Majima is delighted to see Kiryu-chan and decides – for whatever reason – that Kiryu should enter a quick combat tournament to see if the Dragon of Dojima still has what it takes. 

I started off against a chump in black briefs, a furry vest, and an axe. I wasn't able to customize my moves, but my bread-and-butter combos were available, and ol' vesty was down for the count in short order. After that, I faced off against Purgatory's old champ, Gary Buster Holmes. Holmes seemed to be cheating a little, wielding a pair of steel spiked maces on his fists. No worries. I used my heat-action moves to counter his attacks, and ended up victorious.

The final battle was a little more interesting. Majima entered the cage writhing and gyrating, accompanied by his own pyro show. He was significantly quicker than the other two opponents, and I nearly lost. Fortunately, I was able to built up my heat gauge enough to unleash my Feel the Heat move – which originally popped up later in the series – mashing the square button to load up a massive attack, which I unleashed by smashing the triangle. Down, but far from broken, Majima recovers saying he and Kiryu should hash it out over a beer.

My demo ended with a quick look at the Majima Construction minigame, which is similar to the Clan Kiryu mode from Yakuza 6. The big difference here is that it's more defense oriented. Rather than focus on sending out waves of disposable foot soldiers reinforced by higher-quality recruits, in Kiwami 2 the focus is on protecting the construction site and its assets with those recruits. You can level them up with in-game cash, and it seems much more open and has a more strategic bent than what we saw in Yakuza 6. 

It was a short demo, but it did what it was supposed to do: leave me wanting more. Fortunately, I won't have to wait long. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 on August 28, and it's priced at $49.99. You can get a quick look at the game in action below.