It has been two years since we last saw Kazuma Kiryu in Yakuza 2. Having left his 4th chairman position in the Tojo clan, Kazuma spent time in Okinawa running the Sunset Orphanage. Trouble, as it seems, follows Kazuma wherever he may go. In Yakuza 3, Kazuma’s orphanage is at risk to being demolished to have a resort built in its place. When the Yakuza boss that promised nothing would happen to the orphanage is shot, it is Kazuma who must save his orphanage and find out who’s really behind the deal.
In Yakuza 3, you control Kazuma Kiryu as he saves those in need, beats the shit out of bad guys, and plays a mindless amount of mini-games. The area of Okinawa the game takes place in is based on the real-life city of Naha and is open for you to explore. Throughout the city are a series of missions dealing with the storyline and plenty of side missions. If you don’t know what to do, at anytime you can just hit select and Kazuma will let you know.
Being that Kazuma is a Yakuza badass, prepare to lay down ass-whoopings on a regular basis. His attacks make use of a combination of weak and strong attacks liked with throwing people around. Kazuma has a heat gauge will increase as you fight and deal damage. When the gauge lights up, it means Kazuma can unleashes a brutal Heat attack using walls, weapons, and even other enemies to inflict a massive amount of pain on foes. Speaking of weapons, Kazuma can use plenty of them, including swords, guns, bats, signs, baskets, and so on. QTEs will pop up during various fights, mainly during the bosses, so always keep aware of that.
Defeating enemies, completing missions, and eating food will give Kazama XP. With the XP you earn, you can use it to level up stats in four categories: mind, mastery, technique, and body. Each one you level up will add new move to Kazama’s arsenal, improve stats like HP, or simply make him more of an effective fighter by making him more resistant to being knocked down or allowing him to getting up faster.
As for mini-games, there are tons to choose from. Some are a part of the new revelations system that will allow Kazuma to earn a new move after a certain spectacle is seen and then a quick QTE. Other activities include karaoke (which plays like a rhythm game), basketball, host clubs (MORE) and side missions on top of that. This makes for an amazing amount of content, and that’s not including the stuff Sega took out because they thought it was too Japanese for U.S. gamers.
Regarding the look of Yakuza 3, it’s kind of a mixed bag. Cutscenes are incredible looking; every character looks realistic, showing off a lot of emotion on their faces. The problem is that the in-game graphics don’t look nearly as pretty. Although they are above average for a PS3 game, the cutscenes are the only visuals truly worth making note of.
Music and voice acting are a strong part of the game, that is, if you don’t mind that it’s in Japanese. Like the previous game, the Japanese voice actors provide an incredible performance. The dialogue flows between the characters and is filled with honest emotion. It goes to show that while English voice actors have made tremendous strides as of late, Japanese voice acting tends to perform better, perhaps because it is taken more seriously in Japan.
The soundtrack is split into two forms: there is a great score that adds dramatic effect to scenes and a variety of J-pop that is heard in some of the mini-games. One thing I wasn’t a fan of that I’m seeing more in Japanese games, are the quick voice clips that play when you talk to people. You’ll hear these one or two word clips while the text is displayed. The annoyance factor comes when having to hear the same character’s sound clip over and over and over again when reading through the dialogue text.
Replay value with the Yakuza series has always been pretty high as there is so much to do, and so much that you get rewarded for. The main game alone takes a good 20 hours to beat, but all the sidequests, mini-games and items to collect adds an incredible amount of playtime to the game. There is no question that you will get your money’s worth with Yakuza 3.
To me, the Yakuza series represents what is great with Japanese games. It has the right balance of powerful story and characters along with solid gameplay and just a touch of lightheartedness. Yes, you’ll have to be open-minded to the strangeness (to us anyway) of Japanese culture, but once you dive in, you’re in for a treat.
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