Sega didn’t too all too bad with Yakuza. A decent story, rock solid combat, beautiful surroundings and, unfortunately, a lesser sound quality. These elements together formed a whole that was certainly worth revisiting. Now, almost two years later, Sega has arrived with a sequel which has been available in Japan already for almost equally long.
The story plays a year after the original Yakuza and nicely progresses it. Kazuma, the main character, has said goodbye to his life as a gangster due to the loss of the beloved people. The only one he’s got left is the little girl Haruka. They now live together in a remote house somewhere out of town. One day they go to the cemetary to visit the graves of the two others, but there Kazuma is approached by one of the Yakuza family bosses and pursuaded to go back into crime. They really need his help to avoid a total family war and keep the cohesion inside the Yakuza.
The game consists out of three large parts: fight, walk through cities, and cut-scenes. The latter take a huge part of the playing time and the first piece of the game for instance consists out of a small hour of film which brings us to one of the downpoints of the previous title. As such all those movies are very fun, but you can’t skip them… not even when watching for a second time. This makes for pure irritation! You die right after a cut-scene and surprise, you can watch it another time. Also navigating through the cities is the same as with the previous Yakuza. Many characters that live in the streets and strongly animated surroundings, but little clarity about where you actually have to go. The only aid you have to navigate is an unclear mini-map, filled with colors that only give meaning after several hours of exploration.
The combat system did get some adjustments and improvements. Where in Yakuza 1 you often had problems with hostiles standing behind you, you can now get rid of them pretty quickly. With the combination of one of the buttons and the left analog stick you can kick in whatever direction you want so that those sneaky bastards that want to take you from behind won’t bother you too much. There are also some new techniques added, but that’s as far as the differences with Yakuza 1 go.
Also graphically or soundwise there’s little to no difference to be found. On the graphics, though, there wasn’t exactly much room for improvement since we’re talking about a game developed in the final cycle of the PS2. The audio unfortunately still has the same flaws as in the first part. The movies have excellent quality of sound while the in-game effects are a lot less.
Yakuza 2 is just like its predecessor a fun game if you don’t have problems with an overdose on movies, the strong influence of the Japanese culture and a very deep storyline with strong character development. No time was saved on the setting of the atmosphere and also the combat still shows a high intensity which makes it fun and exciting time after time. Add to that a ton of enormously violent attacks with skull fractures as result and you will gladly hit the game in your PS2. Yakuza 2 is just as part 1 certainly not made for the average gamer, but definitely worth a try when you get the chance.