If Yakuza Kiwami felt like a direct follow on from Yakuza Zero, this remake of the second game is a much bigger prospect while still staying true to the roots of the Yakuza series.
The history of Sega’s Yakuza games is a little confusing, but basically Kiwami is a remake of the first Yakuza, Kiwimi 2 is a remake of the second and Yakuza 0 is a brand new prequel that just happened to come to PC first (but at least the games are in order on PC). The second Yakuza game, this time set in 2006, a year after Kiwami finished and some 20 years since the events of Yakuza 0,, is a much bigger one and the Kiwami remake expands this even further, using the power of newer technology to expand the streets and the action.
The best part about the remake is the environment. Kamurocho, based on a real place in the Kabukichō district of Tokyo, is the setting for the series so far and you can easily see the changing times from the small streets of Yakuza 0 in the 80s to the neon lit 2006 of Kiwami 2. Even the (fully playable) arcade machines have received the new (for the time) Virtua Fighter 2 and the excellent Cyber Troopers Virtua-On, replacing Hang-on and Outrun in the Sega arcade.
Our hero, Kiryu, lives and breaths in the city but it’s the story of his reluctant return to organised crime to combat the explosive Goda and also his growing relationship with police officer Kaoru Sayama that moves him forward. The story has plenty of twists from both of these angles and is certainly one of the most entertaining of the series so far.
Yakuza is partly about storyline and partly about learning new fighting moves to beat the increasing threats. Combat in Kiwami 2 is more sprawling and epic than it ever was in the previous games and the help of the progression system, which comes from the newer Yakuza 6, really comes in useful just to survive the random attacks as well as the larger story-based battles.
Add to this some management games, one focusing on a construction site, the usual arcade games, the return of the brilliant cabaret management system to sink far too much time into and even some more suspect mini-games and you have a game you can easily get lost in without even touching the main plot. Soon enough, though, it will collect you back up as you watch Kiryu’s journey unfold as he matures.
PC gamers can count themselves lucky that they’re now able to experience the best game in the Yakuza line-up so far. Hopefully Sega will continue to release these games in whatever order they see fit, possibly with a remake of 3 and 4 coming after Yakuza 5 and 6 are ported from PS4. For now, though, submerging yourself in to 2006’s Tokyo is a treat.