Depending on how you came into the Yakuza series from Sega, you either love this series for all of its seriousness and dumb antics, or you think its alright but overrated. To be fair, both a pretty accurate, depending on which game you’re talking about. The latest addition to the series, which serves as the final chapter, is Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, which in many ways has a feeling of closure even though a betting man wouldn’t take dibs on the idea that this series is finished. We explored the game s Sega sent us a copy well in advance of the April release date to check out.
The plot of the game follows around Kazuma Kiryu, who is recovering from all the insanity that happened to him in the last game when he is arrested and spends three years in jail. Upon release, he’s basically thrown back into the crime world again after he discovers his niece Haruka is in a come from a hit-and-run and leaving a newborn son to be taken care of by Kiryu as he tracks down who did it. This is the kind of plotline you’d expect from a bad Bruce Willis film, as he now has to take care of the baby while also putting himself and the child in frequent danger.
While I would love to praise the game for the mechanics, we basically get a Street Fighter version of GTA: Tokyo. You go around and beat everyone up like a kung-fu flick until the people you beat up talk, then you go around and do it to more people, then a cutscene, then more fighting, then baby in danger, then a cameo from someone from a previous game, then more fighting, then rinse and repeat. You basically are invincible as the fighting system is so fluid that no one can touch you. If they do, it simply means you suck at pressing buttons, because I gave this game to a 12-year-old for a few minutes to do the fighting and they never lost.
That being said, this is the easiest game to get around in as there are no more major cutscenes for battles or other interactions, making it easier to do missions and get around the city faster than before. You’ll have all the free time in the world to play minigames, go on side quests, and beat up twice as many random gangs as you used to. Speak of distractions, the game is full of events for you such as a bar arcade, a dance club, a sports shop, a couple different bars and games in the street, and other activities we’ll keep secret. We’ll just say… Cat Cafe.
The two things that make Yakuza 6 worth playing are the primary story (because it’s actually well done) and the Clan Creator mode as you’ll build up your own gang to police the streets from other mobs and wannabe bosses who have their own ideas of how Onomichi Jingaicho should be run. When you fight, it turns into a real-time strategy game where you have to essentially direct traffic and tell your goons what to do as you monitor their life bar. Its fun, but only to a point as there’s a limit as to how big your clan will eventually get and how much you can control.
Overall, there’s a lot to enjoy about Yakuza 6 — but at the same time, you can tell there was a point where the developers decided enough was enough and didn’t push on for much more. You got a good story with a decent ending and a number of side quests and missions and game modes to do. This isn’t meant to be a victory lap for the series, just a culmination of a lot of things centered around the unknown to come. Whether or not that’s intriguing enough to buy the game is up to you, but we found it slightly lacking in some areas and it just didn’t deliver in others where the series used to excel.
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