Yakuza 0 blew everyone away and is one of the best games of the generation so far. It is fascinating seeing how SEGA has taken a franchise that felt like it was on life support in the West and brought it to the forefront with multiple releases and ports ever since Yakuza 0 debuted on PS4 back in January last year. SEGA rebuilt the original Yakuza in the Yakuza 0 engine but pushed things technically with the fantastic Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. While that release still suffers from some technical issues on the PS4, the team remade the fan favourite Yakuza 2 on PS2 using this engine for PS4 to give us Yakuza Kiwami 2. This preview will cover my impressions from the first four chapters of the game.
You’re probably wondering where this fits into the story with so many numbered games and subtitles. Kiwami 2 can be played standalone (just like all Yakuza games) but it is best enjoyed so far if you’ve experienced 0 and Kiwami. There’s a nice detailed recap in a few cutscenes in the opening if you can’t remember certain things from Yakuza Kiwami. If you recently played it, you can skip this and get straight into the action here. As Kiryu, your aim in this game is so try and mediate between two powers that are basically on the verge of an all out war. The opening chapters will have you aching for more of the main story but as with all modern Yakuza releases, the minigames and side activities are well worth your time.
When it comes to combat and progression, the experience and stat system from Yakuza 6 returns. You can still go and spend money on Sushi or burgers to level up and then spend a bit of time in random battles across town to gain experience quickly if you have the cash and time. It feels like weapons play a bigger part here alongside armour and equipment in general. Seeing some new heat moves is always welcome and the NPCs in some areas will also help you out once you unlock certain skills. Combat overall feels great so far and I haven’t even unlocked most of the skills yet.
The first thing you notice when it comes to visuals is just how much better Kiwami 2 performs compared to Yakuza 6. Screen tearing is a thing of the past and performance seems solid. Cutscenes play out with some nice camera cuts more akin to a proper drama show. The production values are top notch for sure and this extends to the signature voice acting for the franchise as well. It is disappointing seeing the drinking animation for drinks purchased at vending machines be absent here.
A highlight so far outside the main story has been the Art substory which has Kiryu taken into a room in a building to be photographed by a bodybuilder in his underwear. This sees Kiryu in some interesting poses and basically has dialogue and gestures you will end up taking screenshots of for sure.
Overall, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is shaping up to be not just the best looking Yakuza game till date but also one of the best remakes ever. I can’t wait to play more and put in loads of time into the side activities. It feels great to play a Yakuza game that feels like it has borrowed the best of Yakuza 0 and Yakuza 6. If you have save data from Yakuza 6, you get an item that’s worth a decent amount initially. Yakuza Kiwami 2, unlike the first Yakuza Kiwami, will be released in India officially and even has a SteelBook edition available for pre-order right now for Rs. 2999.