This one didn’t turn out as long despite having been delayed for so long. I’ll also apologize in advance right now since I don’t have too many varied screencaps, but it’s telling when I don’t want to get new and appropriate ones to delay this longer than necessary. Battle Chasers will get its time in the limelight but I want to represent that game a bit better compared to Yakuza which has gotten its fair share of popularity in the past year.
Long time coming for this one. Now that I had some time to think Yakuza 2 over, I think I can make a seemi-organized recap of this. Yakuza 2 stands apart from 0 and Kiwami 1 by being released AFTER Yakuza 6 with its Dragon Engine and easily looks the part of having some incredible lighting, a new combat system, as well as destructible windows for you to scare shop owners during combat.
The plot begins a couple of months after Kiryu resigned his position in the Tojo Clan and left things to the Omi Alliance confidant, Terada. Kiryu and Haruka visit the graves of some fallen friends and I’m contemplating whether or not I should continue with some spoilers or not. Let’s just say Terada comes to visit Kiryu in his mourning trip to ask for advice as the Tojo Clan is more or less still in shambles. Terada however gets shot and Kiryu is once again pulled back into the politics of his former profession and is now tasked with brokering an alliance with the Omi Alliance but his attempts are met with opposition from the son of the Omi Alliance head, Goda Ryuji while police investigation ramps up on both sides from an up and rising detective, Sayama Kaoru. The past of Kazama Shintaro also gets disclosed regarding his profession as the Tojo Clan’s top hitman and the ramifications that were brought with his killings.
Without going into direct spoiler territory, Yakuza 2’s plot was kind of all over the place. Thankfully there wasn’t a Jingu-tier villain to hijack the plot for a significant amount of time and Ryuji definitely got enough focus to be built up as a villain without needing a prequel to properly set himself up as a developed character. Instead of Jingu though, we got a bunch of twists and turns throughout the plot involving the Korean Mafia and how much they play into this game’s plot that felt like the most unbelievable fucking thing ever, especially by the end. Just like how Nishikiyama’s fight sort of redeemed how stupid Yakuza 1 could be, Ryuji’s fight in Yakuza 2 was appropriately cool and slightly lessened the stupidity of the plot twists that bombarded the scenes leading up to it. Can’t fault Kiwami 2 too much since this is just a “remastered” Yakuza 2 and there’s not so much they could retroactively add to make some of the stupid things make any more sense. What Kiwami 2 did manage to add was a continuation of Majima’s story from 2 and conclude his plotline with Makoto which was a nice touch.
Gameplay-wise, Yakuza 2 Kiwami plays and feels differently to the combat in 0 and Kiwami 1. There’s definitely more weight to attacks and fights with random jackasses on the street transition immediately into combat to make things go faster and smoother. The unlock system still exists but now there are specific, color-coded upgrade points that you can use to learn new skills, most of which are familiar to anyone who played the previous games. Kiwami 2 puts some emphasis on being able to pick-up and store weapons for later and certain fights will definitely demand that you have something to block knives with. There’s also combi heat-moves like before but doing side-quests unlocks some NPC specific assist heat moves that correspond to a character you’ve helped. There’s also Extreme Heat Mode that buffs the ever-loving shit out of everything Kiryu has which can also break the game if you learn how to abuse it to trivialize certain encounters. In-lieu of the new upgrade system, there’s a hunger/thirst gauge that limits how much you can eat but it doesn’t affect the game “too” much. The cabaret mini-game comes back from Yakuza 0 on Kiryu’s end and the other major mini-game is Clan Creator that originated from Yakuza 6. The combat system also now has rag-dolling which can inadvertently serve as a comedic set-piece anytime after fighting.
The streets of Kamurocho and Sotenbori have really never looked this pretty and there are multiple times I was in awe of the visuals and the new lighting effects during night-time. There’s still way too many damn side-quests, mini-games, collectibles, and other bits to go around doing and I don’t plan on covering them since I was more interested in doing sidestories and advancing the main plot to see if it got any more cohesive.
Kiwami 2 looks great, plays strongly, and the narrative is slightly compelling on paper but the twists detract more of the experience than add to a strong build-up of the simple plot-line of someone’s past actions having repercussions in the present. Plot is honestly all that I have fault with in a Yakuza game at this point because loads of sidequests, fetch quests, and wandering around Kamurocho is just part of the package while a functioning plot tends to vary here and there.