Kazuma Kiryu has tried his darnedest to stay away from crime and his life in the Japanesese mafia, but old habits die-hard. And so will his enemies.Yakuza 3 delivers an unforgettable gangster epic.Sprawling and dramatic, like the best crime stories, Yakuza 3 blends action, RPG elements, and an extravagant narrative. Developed by Sega exclusively for the Playstation 3, marvelous production values help tell Kazuma’s strikingly personal tale of violence and compassion. The Yakuza series may draw knee-jerk comparisons to Grand Theft Auto, but the third iteration of this Japanese saga does more than enough to differentiate itself.
Yakuza 3 is the follow-up to the first two Yakuza games that appeared on Playstation 2. Even if you are a complete newcomer to the series and its complex web of friends, family, and enemies, don’t let that dissuade you from experiencing this knockout title. An insightful “reminisce” mode allows you to watch the plot-related cutscenes from the first two titles edited into an entertaining recap. These back-story movies make up almost 40 minutes of footage that features a fully voice-acted Japanese track, and is highly recommended viewing before you start your adventure.You’ll also bludgeon innumerable henchmen. The scheming machinations of the Japanese mafia are brought to life with riveting facial animations and voice acting. This is a grand melodrama that sees long-lost family members reunited; rivals becoming friends; and heroes and villains finding redemption. You’ll also bludgeon innumerable henchmen with your fists, brass knuckles, bats, swords, Kali sticks, nunchaku, and more.
The action unfolds as you walk around (there are no vehicles to drive) two distinct districts of both Okinawa and Tokyo. These two locations are rendered with great attention to detail and are densely populated with people, restaurants, bars, and other interesting places to visit. You’ll randomly encounter battles with grumpy punks, entitled thugs, and eager yakuza as you walk the busy streets. There are 100 side quests that can be activated by finding key civilians, too.There is a surprisingly compelling aspect unique to the Yakuza video game series: culture.The criminal drama will keep you enthralled, but there is a surprisingly compelling aspect unique to the Yakuza video game series: culture. The Yakuza series prides itself on its Godfather-esque narrative, but equal attention is given to the minutiae of Japanese life. Music, karaoke, shopping, dining, dating, magazines, gaming, gambling, etc. are all fun ways to spend time outside of the main plot.
You can eat hundreds of real Japanese dishes, complete with tasty descriptions. When you order drinks at bars (which in turn powers you up and opens up the “drunken” style of fighting), each spirit and cocktail is accompanied with poignant facts about brewing or its history. You can also play golf, hit the batting cages, fish, play pool or arcade games. Everything you do awards experience points to be spent on new moves. You can visit hostess clubs and help Kazuma’s love life. There is even a special set of finishing maneuvers that can only be unlocked by completing an odd photo blogging mini game.Yakuza 3 is such a striking title that has such high-attention to detail in so many facets.Yakuza 3 is such a striking title that has such high-attention to detail in so many facets, audio and visual, alike. An example of the obscure but ridiculous attention to detail comes after you’ve reopened a fighting arena. Not only can you compete in a plethora of single and tag-team events, but notably, the in-ring announcing is done by world-renowned wrestling and MMA announcer Kei Grant, who has worked with Pride Fighting Championships and K1.
While hardly a knock against the game, it should be noted that there is no option for English voice work. By the end of the story, you will have read a novel’s worth of subtitles. Yakuza 3 is masterfully acted and voiced, and the Japanese language translation shouldn’t turn you away from trying this remarkable title. After a few hours of play, you’ll appreciate the authenticity the original language track lends to the game.The story mode will take upwards of 15-20 hours your first time through.The story mode will take upwards of 15-20 hours your first time through, but if you want to complete all the side stories and activities, expect to double your playtime. Even though the breathtaking cutscenes will stick with you, Yakuza 3 contains a fair amount of non-voiced English text, which will test your patience. You will find yourself quickly mashing buttons in order to skip these dry, overly wordy segments.
There are many unique aspects to Yakuza 3 that make it stand out amid the homogenous world of big budget videogames, and now is a great time to play Yakuza 3 as the Playstation 3 winds down its run. Yakuza 3 is also an inexpensive way to experience this hugely popular Japanese series, which is preceded by Yakuza 4, the zombie spin-off Yakuza: Dead Souls, and the yet-to-be localized Yakuza 5. Yakuza 3 will delight gamers with its range of gameplay styles and its compelling narrative.