Yakuza 2 Review «

Share it:Tweet Yakuza 2 has the unfortunate status of being a late sequel to a niche title (the first Yakuza released in the U.S. two years ago, and the Japanese version of this sequel is actually two years old as well), because it’s a very good game that’s somewhat held back by its outdated PS2 hardware.

Click the image above to check out all Yakuza 2 screens.
Yakuza 2 released in Japan just one year after the original, yet the developers still managed due diligence in making a lot of tweaks based on feedback from the previous game. The combat remains viciously brutal and eminently playable, sporting new tweaks and additions such as occasional quick-time-event sequences — scenarios where you fight alongside a friendly character and can perform joint attacks. It also handles fighting multiple foes in different directions much better (just flick the analog stick while pulling off attacks). The load times are much improved (some random battles are near-instant now, thankfully), and it’s got even more minigames, such as mahjong and managing your own hostess club. The number of side quests receives a healthy boost as well; in fact, some of these diversions are better than the main storyline (at one point, you literally fight a gang of man-babies in a giant playpen, and it’s pretty awesome).

Yet, probably because of its fast development turnaround and platform, some aspects of the sequel don’t hold up as well. While the original Yakuza had a plot that can be legitimately termed “good crime fiction,” this installment offers a merely serviceable tale. Sure, the “East Coast versus West Coast” vibe of an Osaka-based yakuza clan versus your Tokyo gang (with a Korean syndicate thrown in for good measure) entertains, but the story depends on too many random twists and coincidences that don’t hold up as well as the first Yakuza’s plot. Other little details, like the camera still wavering between serviceable and terrible, sloppy combat animations, and load times (yes, they’re better, but they’re still annoying) firmly put Yakuza 2 in “good but still a dated PS2 game” territory.

Click the image above to check out all Yakuza 2 screens.
It’s a bit unfortunate that Yakuza 2 had such a bizarre detour on its way to hitting U.S. shelves, as many gamers’ tastes have changed in the interim. Still, it’s a damn good crime game that delivers satisfying combat, an entertaining glimpse into the Japanese criminal underworld, decent fan service for players who dug the first game, and a pretty awesome tiger-fight scene. If nothing else, it’s solid, inexpensive prep work for the upcoming (we’re hoping it’s upcoming to the States, at least) Yakuza 3 for the PS3.


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