The second of three titles collectively known as The Yakuza Remastered Collection changes things dramatically after the arduous Yakuza 3In Yakuza 4 Remastered, we have not one but four protagonists to run Kamurocho around with, but some work better than others.
Once again, a murder in the city has set off a chain of events. And it doesn’t take long for fingers to become pointed, palms greased, and backs stung. Everything in the course in Yakuza.
After the double cities of Yakuza 3, 4 focuses on Kamurocho again. But this version has a few new details; a new underground part including sewerage and a parking space, the roofs and some extra backstreets. There are also cameos from other areas, but the focus is very much on Kamurocho’s red lights.
The addition of the roofs gives Kamurocho much-needed verticality. A mostly flat open world can sometimes mean that vistas aren’t as impressive as they could be, but the ability to visit rooftops and see what’s below is a solid addition.
After the curveball at the start of Yakuza 3, fans may have expected something a little more relaxed at the start of Yakuza 4. But expectations couldn’t be more wrong. For one thing, we’re not starting with the series’ mainstay, Kazuma Kiryu. Instead, we are introduced to newcomer Shun Akiyama.
He’s more than a decent compromise for Kiryu. An honorable usurer if there is such a thing – he offers loans to people who need them, but charges no interest and can be paid back at any time. And when someone visits his office and applies for a 100 million yen loan, he goes out of his way to make sure he can accompany their request.
In fact, Akiyama is just one of four playable characters. Next to him is Taiga Saejima, an escaped convict, Masayoshi Tanimura, a corrupt police officer, and of course Kazuma Kiryu. Each of these characters plays very differently from each other; their fighting styles vary greatly, and each of them has unique substories and sidelines that are exclusive to them. Akiyama, for example, runs a local hostess club, but when it comes to fighting, is a much faster striker than the others. On the other hand, Tanimura plays a lot more defensively and often relies on counterattacks to do real damage. Its exclusive content directs him to respond to his police radio to take down enemies.
What is impressive, however, is that while these characters have little to no interaction with each other until the final stages, they are all part of a larger story that can flow between them. In true Yakuza style, the plot is again strong in most parts, although perhaps not as captivating as some of the previous entries. It does drop during Saejimas chapters, but that part of the story is more about the exposition of an event that took place 25 years before the game was played.
Honestly, the whole second act with Saejima is the weakest part of Yakuza 4 Remastered. On Death Row for killing 18 men in one hit, you play through his jailbreak and his return to Kamurocho. Despite this, his fighting style is the hardest to master. Saejimas’ attacks from Akiyama are very slow and sluggish by comparison, and it is difficult to get the right timing. This isn’t helped by the fact that he has a boss fight during the prison break that feels more like Yakuza 3 and the enemy’s tendency to block any attack.
Things improve dramatically during Tanimuras and Kiryus arc as they progress the plot more dramatically, and the conclusion shows that RGG Studio isn’t afraid to expand the game in almost any direction. Yakuza 4 is much bigger in every department than Yakuza 3 and all the better.
Unlike the additions in the Yakuza 3 Remaster that added any content deemed too Japanese for a Western audience, the improvements for Yakuza 4 Remastered are more subtle by comparison. With the addition of 1080p and 60fps, there isn’t much else to write home about. Yakuza 4 Remastered is very similar to Yakuza 3 Remastered – that is, dated.
But what Yakuza 4 does offer is even more distraction than Yakuza 3. Almost every minigame returns, including batting cages, bowling, darts, karaoke and traditional Japanese board games, along with a lot more to choose from.
The brilliant Boxcelios from the previous timeout has a sequel – the aptly named and more accessible Boxcelios 2. Unfortunately, the music isn’t quite as good as the first game, but the gameplay is mostly the same, which isn’t a bad thing.
Table tennis has also been added in Yakuza 4, but with the typical Yakuza absurdity. Firstly, it can only be found in the sauna, which means that while playing table tennis, both you and your female opponent will wear bathrobes. In a peak Yakuza spin, the more points you score against your opponent, the more her robe will slide down to reveal her body underneath. This softcore version of ping pong is completed by building up a power meter by then staring at her fickle assets that really pretend to have their own version of gravity working overtime.
I’ve played Yakuza 4 on my Xbox Series X which means I use the Quick Resume feature whenever possible. However, this has caused the strange problem that I have not been able to replicate when I restart the game from scratch. When launched via Quick Resume, loading times were unacceptably slow for just about everything. Menu screens, inventory items, going in and out of areas, even talking to someone has caused the game to freeze for a few seconds each time. This again shows inconsistencies with Quick Resume, but whether this was a one-off or not I cannot say; it was a problem though.
Yakuza 4 Remastered on Xbox isn’t the best game in The Yakuza Remastered Collection, but it’s a marked improvement on the pace of Yakuza 3 Remastered. Akiyama is a wonderful addition to the roster of Yakuza protagonists, but the jury is not yet familiar with Saejima. However, getting to know Tanimura too well is difficult as he no longer appears as a playable character in the series. And while Yakuza 4 may not have the best plot in a Yakuza game, the way it is able to tell one cohesive story through the actions of four different protagonists is absolutely to be praised.
The second of three titles collectively known as The Yakuza Remastered Collection changes things dramatically after the laborious Yakuza 3. In Yakuza 4 Remastered we have not one but four protagonists to run Kamurocho around with, but some work better than Others. Once again, a murder in the city has set off a chain of events. And it doesn’t take long for fingers to become pointed, palms greased, and backs stung. Everything in the course in Yakuza. After the double cities of Yakuza 3, 4 focuses on Kamurocho again. But this version …
Yakuza 4 Remastered Review
Yakuza 4 Remastered Review
- Pacing is a huge improvement over Yakuza 3
- Akiyama is a great new character
- Expertly told story by several protagonists
- Problems with fast resume
- Second Act can be a bit tedious
- Thank you so much for the free copy of the game, please visit – SEGA
- Formats – Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC
- Version reviewed – Xbox One on Xbox Series X.
- Release date – January 28, 2021
- Launch price of – 19.99
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