Perhaps it’s just the general moral decay of society, or the fact that most people like to do things in games that they can’t realistically do in real life, that makes titles involving crime amongst the most popular releases around. Hoping to ride the trend like so many before it comes Yakuza, a game based around the Japanese organised-crime syndicate of the same name.
First impressions of the game suggest a title similar to the much loved Shen-Mue series. The demo included a crowded street with a lot of civilian models walking about. The Character Models were not particularly detailed, but Yakuza boasted crowd numbers well above the average for SONY’s now dated machine. As the character moved through the street toward their objective, in this case a bar, dialogue options appeared and a player could enter into conversations with several of the crowd members. At times A.I. characters would start to talk to the player, hinting at the likelihood of Side-Quests although generally these interactions resulted in a fight. Several buildings could also be entered with short Load Times, although it was clear from the barriers that the demo was not Free-Roaming, and judging by the fixed camera and scripted events, it is unlikely that the final game will feature much open-ended story-driving play and will simply allow for the usual distraction from the main adventure.
Being a crime related game, combat featured heavily. The player enters fights usually through dialogue and the game switches to a kind of invisible arena. From then on it’s traditional two-button combos all the way with the occasional usable object. Chairs and wooden boxes seemed the most common instrument of pain and the fights were quite fun. The player could Lock-On to an enemy and dodge and shift quite nimbly, allowing for some impressive looking battles. The player could also block attacks, although clearly this doesn’t work against guns.
There were also hints of RPG elements and character customisation to round out the package. Yakuza looks like title with a lot of potential and is likely to prove popular with the masses due to its violent nature, provided they are not bored with this generally overused genre by the time of it’s release.