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Yakuza

Review in Progress: Project X Zone 2

Feb 12 // CJ Andriessen
Project X Zone 2 (3DS)Developer: Monolith Software Inc.Publisher: Bandai NamcoRelease: February 16 (US), February 12 (EU, AUS)MSRP: 39.99 I'm more than a dozen hours into Project X Zone 2 and I'm still amazed how many improvements have been made from the last game. Project X Zone, released in 2013, had the misfortune of coming out after the outstanding Fire Emblem: Awakening. When compared side-by-side, it's not hard to argue that Awakening is the better TRPG while Project X Zone mostly coasts by on its fan service appeal. Here we are with sequels to these titles releasing within a week of each other and, while I haven't played Fates yet, I can honestly say there is more to Project X Zone 2 than just its cast.  The biggest improvement you'll find here is the battle system. Unlike the first game, player and enemy turns are now separated so the enemy only moves after you've made your moves. Something about this small change just seems to make the chapters move at a more breezy pace compared to the first game. Yes, chapters are still interrupted halfway with extended bits of story and exposition, but I have yet to reach a chapter in the game that is aggravatingly long. Combat is still all style and timing as you chain together attacks for maximum damage. Time it right and you can increase your damage output. If you have a solo unit assigned to your team or are adjacent to another team, you can call them into the action and significantly increase your attack power if you land a Cross Hit. Unlike the first game, Cross Hits are noticeably more difficult to properly land this time and there are many attacks that can break them. Just throwing a whole bunch of characters on the screen at the same time isn't a guarantee you'll perform a Cross Hit. Now, you have to know your teams and their attacks well. The big new addition to the combat system is the Charge Bonus. If you don't use one of your attacks in a fight, that attack will be charged for your next fight. A charged attacked does more damage and regains more XP than a standard attack. You seem to be limited to three attacks at a time (plus a special attack if you have enough XP), but there is no limit to how many of those three attacks can be the same one. This means I can use the same individual attack three times in a row and save my other two for a Charge Bonus to use in my next fight. Charge Bonuses are rewarded both when you're attacking and when you're countering, which has also seen improvements this game. When the enemy is on the advance, only a full defense (which negates any damage you may take) uses the group XP. Now, regular defense and counters use the character's individual SP. Speaking of counters, I've found them a hell of a lot more useful in this game than the last. You're able to use more of your attacks this time and when countered, the enemy's shield will already be depleted so all of your attacks will do damage. I've defeated more enemies on the defense than when I was the one attacking.   If you're wondering how the story is, know that it's better than the last time around. Yes, there is still a lot of exposition and, yes, every character has to comment at least once in a story segment and, yes, I am missing pervy Frank West and his camera; but everything is much more focused. I don't know if this is the work of the localization team or the original scenario writers of the game, but gone is the disjointed structure of Project X Zone and here is an easy-to-follow storyline that even people who are totally unfamiliar with the series will be able to understand. As someone as stupid as I am, I appreciate the simplicity.  If you're in Europe and plan on picking this up today, know there is an option for paid DLC in the intermission menu between chapters; however I have no idea what it entails as nothing has been available for me to purchase at this point. I will have more on the DLC as well as the improved maps in the game in the full review next week. [This review in progress is based on a retail version of the game provided by the publisher.]
Project X Zone 2 photo
Another journey through the multi-verse
I just popped an Advil because I'm dealing with some annoying pain right now. It's a pain that starts to sting right in the inside of my elbow as I try to stretch my arm out. I'm not unfamiliar with this pain, in fact we're o...

Review: Yakuza 5

Dec 17 // Kyle MacGregor
Yakuza 5 (PS3)Developer: SegaPublisher: SegaMSRP: $39.99 Released: December 8, 2015 (NA/EU)  December 6, 2012 (JP) The tale unfurls from five seemingly unrelated vantage points, picking up two years after the events of Yakuza 4 with former yakuza and series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu attempting to live a quiet life as a cab driver in Fukuoka. Of course, our hero can't seem to escape his past, and with trouble brewing, it isn't long before he's pulled out of his taxi and back into the fray. Far to the north, Tojo strongman Taiga Saejima is nearing the end of a prison sentence in Hokkaido, where he, despite being 2,000 miles away from the events in Fukuoka, feels the ripple effects of what's going on. Meanwhile, Kiryu's adoptive niece Haruka has left her home in Okinawa to chase dreams of becoming a pop star in Osaka, where old friend Shun Akiyama, the affable moneylender from Yakuza 4, also happens to be setting up a new office for his company Sky Finance. Tossed into the mix is newcomer Tatsuo Shinada, a disgraced former baseball player living hand-to-mouth in a seedy corner of Nagoya after being thrown out of the league on suspicion of game-fixing. He, more so than the rest of the cast, appears to have little to do with the goings on of the criminal underworld, much less the tensions between the Omi Alliance and Tojo Clan. And yet he too becomes involved in this nationwide clash between gangs as everything intertwines and comes to a head. Speaking of heads, chances are, unless you're intimately familiar with Japanese geography or the series in general, that synopsis might have left your's spinning. With such a rich backstory and so many characters, locations, and groups, it can be difficult for even the best of us to fully grasp what's going on. But I suppose that's part of the charm; the complicated interweaving of everything makes for one hell of a soap opera delving into the fascinating world of Japan's organized crime families. Another strength of Yakuza 5, and the series in general, is the painstaking lengths at which Sega goes to make that world feel real. Everything from bustling city streets to the convenience stores and ramen shops is rendered with such attention to detail, it might just be the closest you can come to visiting Japan without hopping on a plane. In relief of that realism is the gameplay, which has a certain air about it akin to a smell that can send you back to a specific place and time. Whether you're brawling with gangsters, drag racing, fishing, participating in a FPS snowball fight, hunting, or playing Virtua Fighter or Taiko Drum Master in the arcade, the whole experience feels very much like a Dreamcast-era arcade game. Cut between the ultra-serious story of conspiracy and deadly consequences is a pastiche of ridiculous, over-the-top (and cloyingly dated) mini-games that serve to lighten the mood, smack you in the face, and remind you that it's a video game -- not just a television drama. Nowhere is this more evident than Haruka's portion of the story, which transforms the experience (for a while, at least) into an idol simulation with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva-esque rhythm game sequences and handshake meet-and-greet sessions with fans. Sadly, none of these elements are handled with the same care and dedication given to the story or world-building, which is a real shame, and leaves the experience feeling somewhat archaic. The fighting, in particular, hasn't seen much of a leap forward since the series debuted a decade ago on PlayStation 2. Even considering how long it took Sega to localize this particular entry, its stiff combat just feels woefully antiquated in contrast with most action games on the market these days. However, despite some rough edges like that or a bizarre fixation with hammering home an overarching theme about "dreams" near the point of self-parody, Yakuza 5 provides dozens upon dozens of hours of legitimate entertainment, the sort that kept me engaged and constantly left me torn between rushing ahead to see what twists and turns the story would take next and poking my nose into every single nook and cranny to explore the hostess clubs, remote mountain shrines, and everything in between. Yakuza 5 is exactly the sort of game the expression "greater than the sum of its parts" was made to describe. Each facet of the experience, taken individually, leaves room for improvement, but, reflecting on my time with Yakuza 5, I can't conjure much in the way of disappointment. Some bumps notwithstanding, it's a hell of a ride, one that I heartily recommend. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Yakuza 5 review photo
Who says crime doesn't pay?
With the chairman of the Omi crime syndicate on his deathbed, an uneasy truce with the Tojo Clan hangs in the balance. Anticipating a conflict, Tojo boss Daigo Dojima travels to Fukuoka in search of allies. But before an agre...

Yakuza: Kiwami photo
Yakuza: Kiwami

Yakuza: Kiwami continues to look great


New Story trailer
Dec 14
// Chris Carter
Every time I see footage for Yakuza: Kiwami, I just want to replay the first game again. It's a shame that we never got the PS3 or Wii U HD remakes, but I'd settle for a worldwide release of this one, as it seems l...
Yakuza 6 photo
Yakuza 6

First footage of Yakuza 6 looks just wonderful


I'm feeling the heat
Dec 12
// Kyle MacGregor
I may knee-deep in Yakuza 5 at the moment, but it's never too soon to start getting pumped for the next entry in the series. That would be Yakuza 6, which Sega unveiled at Tokyo Game Show this year and plans to release exclusively for PlayStation 4 sometime next autumn. You know, in Japan. Who knows how long the game will take to come west (if it ever does), but it sure does look pretty.

Yakuza comes west photo
Yakuza comes west

Yakuza 5 comes west next week, Yakuza Zero confirmed for PS4


Yakuza news
Dec 05
// Steven Hansen
Yakuza 5 is coming to PS3 December 8 and Yakuza Zero is also coming to the west on PlayStation 4, Sony announced at the PlayStation Experience. SEGA's Yakuza 5 missed its mid-November release date after being announced for a western release at last year's PlayStation Experience. Yakuza Zero is a prequel set in the '80s that came to PS3 and PS4 in Japan earlier this year.
Yakuza photo
Yakuza

You can fight Majima anywhere in the world in the Yakuza remake


Haha, awesome
Nov 28
// Chris Carter
Yakuza: Kiwami, a remake for the original game, is shaping up to be a pretty awesome re-release. There are a ton of new features packed in, one of which is the ability to fight Majima Goro, a Starscream-esque friend of t...
Yakuza photo
Yakuza

Yakuza: Kiwami looks dope as hell, super weird


Comes with a demo for Yakuza 6
Nov 20
// Chris Carter
Sega just dropped a new trailer for Yakuza: Kiwami, and it looks awesome. There's plenty of new features afoot, including new combat abilities and minigames. I love the balance this series always struck with insanity an...
Yakuza 5 photo
Yakuza 5

Sega: Yakuza 5 coming west in mid-November


Good lord, finally
Oct 16
// Kyle MacGregor
I've been starting to wonder if Yakuza 5 would actually be releasing in 2015, as Sega and Sony promised at last year's PlayStation Experience and have scarcely mentioned since, but it seems the long wait is nearly over. Accor...
Yakuza 6 photo
Yakuza 6

Here's the first glimpse of Yakuza 6


Starring 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano
Sep 29
// Kyle MacGregor
Here's the first look at Yakuza 6, and -- wait -- is that Beat Takeshi? Why yes, yes it is. The famed Japanese entertainer, who you might know the host of cult game show Takeshi's Castle, has a role in Sega's latest gangster ...
Yakuza 6 photo
Yakuza 6

Yakuza 6 announced, exclusive to PlayStation 4


Targeting a fall 2016 launch in Japan
Sep 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Hot on the heels of announcing Yakuza: Kiwami, a remake of the original Yakuza, Sega teased the next numbered entry in the series, Yakuza 6, which is primed for a fall 2016 launch. That window is only for Japan, of ...
Yakuza remake photo
Yakuza remake

Sega is remaking the first Yakuza game


YUSSSSSSSSS
Sep 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Oh, baby. Sega is remaking the original Yakuza for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and hot damn does it look good. In addition to the improved visuals, Yakuza Studio is adding new scenarios as well as some alternations to the game mechanics to create a more user-friendly experience. Yakuza: Kiwami is launches January 21, 2016, at least in Japan. Who knows if it's coming west.
SEGA photo
SEGA

New Yakuza announcement coming September 15


Yakuza 6 or 10th anniversary business?
Sep 10
// Steven Hansen
We -- that is, not-Japan -- are behind on the Yakuza series. Patiently we wait for a digital Yakuza 5 release this fall; it came out in 2012 in Japan. Japan has since seen Yakuza Ishin, Yakuza 0, and now another entry in the ...
Yakuza 5 photo
Yakuza 5

Still excited for Yakuza 5 this fall? Watch this developer interview series


Lots of hostess club talk
Aug 07
// Chris Carter
The PlayStation team visited Tokyo earlier this year to chat with a pair of Yakuza developers (General Director Toshihiro Nagoshi and Producer Masayoshi Yokoyama), in anticipation for Yakuza 5's digital worldwide releas...
Japanese sales charts photo
Japanese sales charts

Yakuza 0 tops Japanese charts, spurs PS4 sales


Western release still in question
Mar 18
// Kyle MacGregor
Sega's open-world beat-'em-up Yakuza 0 was the top-selling game in Japan last week, debuting with a combined 236,329 physical sales across both PS3 and PS4, according to Media Create. While the lion's share of purchases came ...
Yakuza Zero photo
Yakuza Zero

Watch a full walkthrough of the Yakuza Zero demo


We still know so little
Feb 20
// Chris Carter
Yakuza Zero is the next game in the Yakuza franchise coming this year in Japan on PS3 and PS4, but we know so little about it. Until this week that is, when YouTube channel Japanese Entertainment provided a full demo walkthr...
Yakuza 5 photo
Yakuza 5

Yakuza 5 is finally coming west!


HNNNNNNNNG!
Dec 06
// Kyle MacGregor
Somebody pinch me! Yakuza 5 is coming to PlayStation 3 in North America next year, Sony announced today at the PlayStation Experience. This is definitely better late than never! It sounds like Sony had a big hand in mak...
 photo

Here's a full 15-minute Yakuza Zero story trailer


...in Japanese
Sep 29
// Dale North
Even if you don't understand Japanese this new Yakuza Zero story trailer looks hot as fire. This was the exact one blaring from Sega's Tokyo Game Show booth a few weeks ago, made watchable on the internet for the first time ...
 photo

Oh yes: Seven minutes of Yakuza Zero gameplay and details


Bonus naughty shots
Sep 25
// Dale North
Warning: Kinda NSFW Here's a heaping pile of Yakuza Zero gameplay to kick your morning off right. It's in Japanese, coming hot off Sega's YouTube channel, but you don't need to understand it to appreciate all of the fac...
 photo

Watch this new Yakuza Zero footage and daydream about playing it


Never say never
Sep 18
// Dale North
New footage of the recently announced Yakuza 0 (or is it Yakuza Zero?) was revealed today at Tokyo Game Show 2014. I can always count on seeing new Yakuza games at TGS, but I can also count on being disappointed after m...
Yakuza Zero photo
Yakuza Zero

Surprise! Yakuza Zero is a prequel set in the 80s


...and tells the origin stories of Kiryu and Majima
Aug 28
// Kyle MacGregor
The first details on Yakuza Zero come by way of Famitsu, where we learn Sega's PS4 and PS3 action title is set in 1988 and tells the origin stories of Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima. Because of course it does! With a title like...
Yakuza Zero photo
Yakuza Zero

Sega announces Yakuza Zero and very little else


Expect to hear more at Tokyo Game Show
Aug 24
// Kyle MacGregor
Yakuza Zero is in development for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, Sega announced today. The publisher promises to reveal more details about the title at Tokyo Game Show next month. 『龍が如く』最新作ティザーサイト [Sega via Famitsu]
Yakuza  photo
Yakuza

Check out what's basically a gravure-lite promo for the top-voted Yakuza hostesses


So sExYyYyYy
Aug 18
// Brittany Vincent
Not long ago, Sega put out a call for potential hostesses for the next Yakuza game, and this video details the finalists. With the reveal of the latest Yakuza iteration via NicoNico next Sunday, the top-ranking girl will be ...
Yakuza photo
Yakuza

Sega is teasing a new Yakuza reveal for August 24


Any guesses?
Aug 04
// Chris Carter
Are you itching for more Yakuza? Sega has created a new teaser site it seems that will announce a new Yakuza project on August 24. Whether it's a remake or completely new title is unknown, but something is going to happe...
Yakuza photo
Yakuza

There's a brand new Yakuza game in production


No more zombies, please
Jun 30
// Brittany Vincent
Hope you're ready for another dose of Yakuza (that you can't have.) A recent interview with producer Masayoshi Yokoyama and series supervisor Toshihiro Nagoshi has revealed that the latest entry in the Yakuza series is well u...
Yakuza Restoration photo
Yakuza Restoration

Yakuza Ishin came to PS3 & PS4 to do right by fans, just not western ones


Please understand
Apr 25
// Steven Hansen
Yakuza Ishin, released in concert with the PS4 in Japan as the best selling (not-bundled) software, is probably never releasing outside of Japan. SEGA sidestepped localizing Yakuza 5 to put all its efforts towards developing ...
PS4 Japan launch photo
PS4 Japan launch

Bundle bump: Knack was the best selling Japanese PS4 game


Taking third & fourth...Killzone and Battlefield?
Feb 26
// Steven Hansen
So, one of the reasons for the delayed PS4 launch in Japan was the games lineup, right? They had to get more games for that audience? I'm not sure how good of a job they did if Battlefield 4 and Killzone Shadow Fall still cra...
Yakuza Ishin photo
Yakuza Ishin

Yakuza Ishin gets a PS4 launch trailer


Just in time for the PS4's Japanese launch
Feb 21
// Chris Carter
The Yakuza series is basically on life support (or dead) in the west, but it's still going strong in Japan. Set to coincide with the launch of the PlayStation 4 in Japan tomorrow, Yakuza Ishin has a brand new trailer to show off some of the game's more emotional moments. Yakuza can basically do no wrong for me, so I'm definitely going to import this at some point in the future.
 photo

PS3 and PS4 versions of Yakuza: Ishin compared


Which one will you get?
Jan 21
// Dale North
If any of you fellow Yakuza fans want to see how different the PS3 and PS4 versions of upcoming game Yakuza: Ishin will be, check out this newly released video from Sega. You'll want to jump to about the 3:13 mark to se...
Yakuza Restoration photo
Yakuza Restoration

Yakuza Ishin has fishing, gardening and sexy brothels


The hostess with the mostest
Jan 16
// Steven Hansen
Quick, which of those three caught your attention? Fishing and gardening, for me. This video offers a meaty look at Sega's upcoming Yakuza Ishin, which Dale raved about at TGS. I have to admit, that world looks like it'd be ...
Yakuza Restoration photo
Yakuza Restoration

Yakuza Restoration has a character that uses a cannon


Ryoma sounds pretty badass
Jan 08
// Chris Carter
A new developer video has surfaced for Yakuza Restoration, and it shows off a great deal of the nuts and bolts of the game (like skills and the XP system), as well as a character named Ryoma who can use a ton of oddball weap...

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