Following the prequel entry, Yakuza 0, the popular series is going back to its roots once again with Yakuza Kiwami, a full remake of the original Yakuza title from PlayStation 2.
In the 10 years that have passed since the events of Yakuza 0, much has changed. Kazuma Kiryu has returned to the streets to discover that his city has gone to hell. To top it all off, Goro Majima has seemingly gone off the deep end and is hunting him down, popping out where you least expect him. I encountered Majima twice in my time with Kiwami; he jumped out of a manhole one time, while he snuck up on me in a crowded street another. Majima is the master of multiple fighting styles, so both battles with him were drastically different.
Yakuza Kiwami brings the debut entry of the game to the current generation of consoles using the Yakuza 0 engine. That means that not only are the visuals more modern than the original, but it also plays better. The visuals are nearly indistinguishable from Yakuza 0, which released in North America earlier this year. Players will also notice new side activities to participate in.
Despite these upgrades, Kiwami doesn't neglect its PlayStation 2 roots. While I didn't see it during my time, the team tells me that strange moments that players remember from the PS2 version, such as a cinematic where a character's neck moves in an unnatural way, have been preserved to make it as authentic an experience as possible.
As someone who has always wanted to get into the Yakuza series, but has been afraid to jump into the middle of the saga, 2017 has been a blessing. Not only did I get the great Yakuza 0 (which I'm still working through), but I'm also getting a remake of the original Yakuza game that is the next chronological title in the storyline.
I'm looking forward to playing Yakuza Kiwami when it launches on PlayStation 4 on August 29.