Heya guys, this is AC and I’m here to review the latest remaster of the Yakuza series: Yakuza Kiwami 2. From the get-go, lemme say that I’m a huge fan of the Yakuza series, but I’m going to be a bit strict and honest with this review. You’ll be expecting some.. interesting criticism for this sequel and I hope you’ll understand why I gave such comments. Here are some interesting facts about the game first:
Okay, let’s get this show on the road!
Some Facial Animations Look Stiff
Yes, the whole remaster of Yakuza Kiwami 2 is such a beautiful upgrade from its PS2 version days and has become a good contender for the recent and remastered titles of the franchise. The visual effects look stunning, the 3D animation as a whole works fluidly without fault, even the in-game visuals look like the cinematic ones. Here is just one problem that I couldn’t ignore all throughout my gameplay: the facial animations especially the lips.
The animation on the lips just looks ridiculously stiff! Sometimes on cinematic scenes, they look a bit stiff and sometimes it does not sync well with the voice acting. I played Yakuza 0, Kiwami 1 and 6 and I have not seen such problems there. I highly praised the facial animations of the three titles and it was done perfectly. Maybe I’m super nitpicky but it just stands out in my opinion. I can’t even sometimes get invested with the emotions they show in certain scenes. Maybe it is because the whole game was based on the PS2 version? I dunno, I’m just a bit sad that I could not give this a highly deserved score.
There’re also these random visual bugs and glitches. There’s this one time where the visuals just glitched way bad I had to close the game. Another time, a minor glitch happened when Kiryu equipped a weapon and it just floated a bit on his palm. Maybe the game needs more polish?
For visuals, my score for this game is a low 7. Overall it is a beautiful overhaul, but the facial animations and the bugs just… turned me off a bit.
Story: Too many intercrossing story arcs
As usual, the guys from Ryu ga Gotoku Studio delivers one of the best storylines in the series with tons of things to tackle with. Yakuza Kiwami 2 has a lot of story arcs to follow and it is a very intriguing story, but it also has a problem: there’re just too many story arcs. If these arcs were just small ones and there was one main arc, it would’ve been fine and easy to follow. The problem was that all of them were big and major arcs and they were all intertwined, related. For a story-hungry buff like me, it was not that easy but I got all of the stories right. For those that only want to breeze through their walkthrough, they will have a tough time following all of these branching stories.
At least the separate Majima storyline is straight to the finish line and not lined with branching roads. Twists and surprises in the plot, sure, but more than two major story arcs? That’ll be a big headache for some people.
Surprising to this series though is the amount of *shivers* cutesie romance scenes of Kiryu and this new leading lady, Kaoru Sayama. It’s hilarious, fun, and very cute of them flirt with each other, only to end with some stupid move of Kiryu denying Kaoru of a big romantic moment. The manly drama of this game is still over-the-top, which makes it still a very good game to play over and over again. Kiryu is still the big guy to beat on manliness.
There are tons of mini side stories in the game though that are all fun to watch and play. I had fun watching Kiryu voice act for a video game with a twist, the Obatarian returns, and so much more.
The story gets a solid 8 outta me. It has a lot of good points due to its story arcs, its characters, romance, and the mini-stories, but the major story arcs intertwining got me to deduct some points. Some of you might get lost with the lore so better strap in for some wild rollercoaster ride of a story. To borrow my friend’s words: it’s all over the place.
All fun, So Many Mechanics, A Few Kinks
The most redeeming factor of this game is its beat ‘em up mechanic. It just feels satisfying to beat up a dozen enemies and only one of you to do the job. Unlike Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami 2 follows the experience mechanic where he can gain them via fights, eating, drinking, finishing a chapter, finishing a sidestory, and many more. It is pretty generous when it comes to rewarding the player with experience, sometimes money, and items. There is no shortage of how to gain such experiences and expend them in gaining new abilities that can let Kiryu have the advantage against tough opponents. It’s a solid feature, but I have problems with the fighting mechanic itself.
For me, it feels a bit stiff and not fluid enough unlike the other titles. Sometimes, the hits don’t connect well and Kiryu’s movements are a bit slow in this iteration. I dunno, maybe it’s my imagination, but it doesn’t feel right compared to how I brawl on Yakuza 0 and Kiwami. Even the Yakuza 6 version had better and smoother controls in my opinion. It makes several mid-boss fights really irritating to finish *cough* Korean leader *cough*. Other than that, it’s all good. It just needs a bit more of a time to get used to.
The minigames are awesome here! It’s back guys! Cabaret Club! Virtua Fighter! Black Jack! Mah Jong! And so much more. It’s not that many compared to Yakuza 0, but it’s a lot more than Kiwami 1 and 6. The Majima construction fights are awesome as well and it is the same type of minigame as the turf war game on Yakuza 6. Cabaret Club’s my thing though and very entertaining to play.
There are a lot of side stories to encounter in this game. Not that as much as Yakuza 0, but it’s a hefty lot to encounter. Good thing it rewards players with high-end items, weapons, experience, and more. Some might even join Kiryu on certain minigames like Majima Construction and Cabaret Club.
For the gameplay, I’ll give this game a high 9. Aside from the stiff controls on fighting, there are just a lot of things to do in this game! It keeps me entertained, so those small issues don’t bother me anymore.
Always Manly, Sometimes Romantic, Sometimes Dramatic
Another great aspect of Yakuza Kiwami 2, nay, the whole Yakuza series is its manly music. When you play this game, whether you are a man, woman, or someone in between, you will feel the manliness overflowing and oozing from this game with its awesome music tracks. The studio really does wonders timing every scene and arc with the proper track and changes it when it is needed. Not even once will you see a scene with some out of place music tagged with it.
The voice acting is very well done as well. You can definitely hear the emotions in every dialogue, even the NPCs are very convincing. They really have very talented voice actors and I salute them for that.
For music, Yakuza Kiwami 2 gets a solid 10! Great music done right, and perfect voice acting. What more could you ask for?
OMG, So Many Things To Do!
If you were smoothly and going fast through your walkthrough of Yakuza Kiwami 2, then do not despair because there are TONS of things to do afterward. Just like the previous titles, this one has a crapload of sidestories, minigames, collectibles, and more to play even after completing the whole story(s). There is also the Premium adventure where you can wear a new wardrobe and strut your stuff on Kamurocho and Sotenbori. In this game, you will always have something to do. Just hit the streets and you will get into a fight.
Replayability value is an all-time 10 for me. This game rocks when it comes to post-game things to do.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a bit of a mixed bag for me with so many small issues, but tons of great aspects. Hopefully the next remaster will be a better one with improved gameplay, visuals, facial animations, and more. Maybe I was expecting it to be as good as Yakuza 0.
Disclosure: This review is based on a review code provided by Sega. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.