I’ve been a big fan of the Yakuza series since I began my journey with the third game on PS3, and now, I can finally say that I’ve played every mainline entry. I’ll miss experiencing new journeys with the amazing Kazuma Kiryu, but Yakuza Kiwami 2 is among the best that the series has to offer.
Taking place just before Christmas, Kiryu begins his adventure in Sotenbori, Osaka to help reform the crumbling Tojo Clan against the growing might of the Omi Family, leaving Kiryu to travel to Osaka in the hopes that he can talk the Omi Family out of pursuing war. A section of the Omi Family, run by Ryuji Goda, is fanning the flames and, as the “Kansai Dragon”, has it out for Kiryu as he believes that Japan is big enough for only one dragon, and Kiryu finds himself in the center of an epic drama once again.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is among the best that the series has to offer.
Seeing Sotenbori decked out in festival lanterns and brings to life a city both similar yet unique enough to Kamurocho, that exploring both is nothing short of enjoyable. The two cities are still decked out with the groups of thugs and young Yakuza who think they can get a piece of the Dragon of Dojima though, and their unfounded confidence is their folly when you take them out with either your fists or several surrounding items. A bicycle? Sure. A bench? Why not?! Maybe even a ramen bowl!
The world is your oyster, and fighting these miscellaneous groups rarely becomes dull, as well as providing you with skill points to level Kiryu up, although the groups can get in the way of you doing whatever else it is you want to do. And there’s a lot to do.
Kiwami 2 brings the goods in every sense.
The action is only part of the fun, because there are a multitude of mini-games waiting for you to play them. Virtua Fighter 2, Virtual-ON, golf, mahjong, karaoke and a cabaret club management game that’s similar to the one found in Yakuza 0. The club management mini-game kept me engrossed for a good 20 or so hours in Yakuza 0, and I put the story line aside to focus almost exclusively on it, and you know what, it’s only gone and done it again, hasn’t it?
Watching Kiryu interact with the hostesses’ and making sure that they’re treated well by patrons is great fun, and it’s a management mini-game that’s fast-paced by simple and easy to get to grips with. Become a member of Majima’s construction company and play a mini-game reminiscent of Yakuza 6’s Clan Creator. Kiwami 2 brings the goods in every sense.
The sense of familiarity never becomes dull, and instead it instills a feeling of returning home.
Sotenbori has its own distinct flavour and activities to partake in, but it isn’t quite Yakuza without a good chunk of it being set in the series’ main city Kamurocho. Kamurocho is largely unchanged, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Theatre Ave. is still home to Club SEGA, there’s a hot karaoke place on Pink St., and a trusty Don Quixote on Showa St., and the sense of familiarity never becomes dull, and instead it instills a feeling of returning home – and I love it. I love exploring it, soaking in the atmosphere, and immersing myself into the world which is a mix of real-life Japan and original ideas, and I can’t get enough of it.
I could listen to the dulcet tones of voice-actor Takaya Kuroda much more often than the game allows, and goodness knows he gets a lot voiced lines! Maybe some Kuroda ASMR? I’d dig it. He isn’t the only excellent performance in the game though, and there’s simply no weak link to speak of. The soundtrack is also fantastic, with the main battle theme being much more upbeat than usual, with plenty of returning tracks which twang on my nostalgia strings, and they hit the spot each time.
You might worry that this is too much Yakuza, but there’s no such thing.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is an ace game, and one that you shouldn’t sleep on. With Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami so easy to get your hands on, I recommend playing those first, then sinking your teeth into Yakuza Kiwami 2. Kiwami 2 has fresh new content including a storyline where you play as Goro Majima, and although this isn’t too long, it’s nice to see how he got to where he is alongside Kiryu’s story. You might worry that this is too much Yakuza, but there’s no such thing. I’m already looking forward to the remasters for Yakuza’s 3, 4 and 5, and then I may very well go through it all all over again.
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