In March of 2018, PlayStation 4 owners in the West subsequently bought the chance to play Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, the long-awaited conclusion to the Kazuma Kiryu saga. At the time, CG’s own Lane Martin gave the game a 9.5 out of 10, calling it a “masterclass in marrying serious drama and great pacing with absolute insanity.” Of course, if you’re a seasoned Yakuza/Ryu Ga Gotoku fan like each Lane and I are, you already know that that description applies to simply about each mainline entry in the series.
It was once a one-of-a-kind time for the franchise, and arguably a special era. Sega’s popular action-adventure/crime-melodrama series was once nevertheless intrinsically linked to the PlayStation platform and used to be viewed through many to be a “hard exclusive” for Sony consoles, even although it had by no means been formally referred to as such; Sony simply so befell to be the one console platform holder who took hobby in supporting the unique title on PlayStation 2 returned in its infancy, main to a lengthy and ultimately fruitful relationship, as a result, the connection.
Later that equal yr, however, the immensely popular prequel Yakuza 0 used to be announced for and ported to PC, an event that shaped the first cracks in the Yakuza PlayStation-exclusive dam. Fast-forward to the current in 2021, the place the dam has lengthy burst vast open and the entirety of the mainline Yakuza video games are now reachable on PC and Xbox, with this week’s launch of Yakuza 6 on stated platforms as properly as Xbox Game Pass is the masterstroke.
As a Yakuza die-hard who already owns nearly and every sport in the series on PlayStation however mains Xbox Series X as his console of choice, I couldn’t be happier about this outcome.
Ok, I lied. Maybe I could be a little happier. Just a smidge.
Here’s the thing. What we have right here is the same great game that my esteemed colleague reviewed in 2017. Same story, identical stable fight mechanics, identical baby-raising shenanigans, equal testosterone-fueled cutscenes providing the stoic Kiryu staring down a new rogues gallery of enemies as solely the Dragon of Dojima can. Powered with the aid of the Dragon Engine (the identical engine that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio used to create the remaster Yakuza: Kiwami 2 as nicely as the today’s sport in the series, Yakuza: Like A Dragon),
Yakuza 6 is an absolute looker; in no way have the fictional streets of Kamurocho seemed grittier, and thanks to the game engine’s improved rag-doll physics, it’s in no way felt greater visceral or interactive either. Most fights that happen in the game are instantaneous and can begin up almost anywhere, even internal convenience stores, and Kiryu can begin laying into an enemy with his fists and ft (or vice-versa) nicely earlier than the fight title card has faded from the screen. Transitions between main cutscenes and fights are near-seamless as well.
But simply like how Kiryu’s crows-feet and barely greying hair now sometimes betray his rugged accurate looks, this specific version of the Dragon Engine is additionally showing its age, displaying many of the equal performance problems that have been present in the PS4 version of the game. Right from the opening cutscene in Kiyomi’s bar,
intermittent frame-drops reared their unpleasant heads, and when exploring Kamurocho and Onomichi early on in my playthrough, random freezes had been extra common than they should have been, in particular for the duration of fights, every so often even ensuing in full-on freezes or crashes that required a reset of the sport in order to resolve them. These problems did now not show up to be consistently tied to particular scenes, areas, or moments they simply show up at random.
I’ve considering the fact that reached out to Sega and used to be informed by way of their PR department that the production team is conscious of these bugs, and a patch to right them certainly incoming, so hopefully these technical problems won’t be a problem for long.
Performance problems aside, the 30fps framerate of Yakuza 6 additionally bears brief discussion on its very own because of its impact on gameplay. Yakuza: Kiwami 2 and Yakuza 6 are the two standout exceptions in the complete franchise that run at solely 30fps on the Xbox Series consoles, which can make the transition alternatively jarring from a gameplay standpoint for everyone who formerly played any of the different 5 titles (such as the currently launched Yakuza: Like A Dragon which provides each a 1440p/60 Performance Mode and 4K/60 Quality Mode on Xbox Series X, or The Yakuza Remastered Collection, which runs at 60fps on all Xbox platforms).
Conversely, Yakuza 6 provides no graphics alternatives whatsoever, and the much less than stable 30fps performance on Xbox Series X translates to increased enter latency, which I in my opinion found to be truly at odds with the game’s free-flowing nature of combat and the increasingly context-sensitive specificity of Heat Actions (i.e. special moves and finishers).
To elaborate, whilst the pre-Dragon Engine Yakuza video games Yakuza 3-5, Yakuza Zero, and Yakuza: Kiwami had been greater rigid and required greater Virtua Fighter-style precision to good execute combos and different complicated moves, agencies of enemies tended to lay off a bit more, giving the player a little extra time to plan and set up high-quality attacks and finishers, and the controls responded predictably enough that one ought to rely on the preferred move to be completed when carried out properly.
Yakuza 6 on the different hand is lots extra of a street brawler and its enemies are some distance greater relentless, requiring faster inputs on the part of the player.
Don’t get me wrong here, I welcome the exchange and the extra challenge. I’ve owned and performed many a Yakuza game and through now I’ve grown quite accustomed to how each game adjustments up the formula a little in how sure moves are performed, however with Yakuza 6, notwithstanding my enjoyment I frequently felt like I was once constantly thrashing around and running about simply to keep enemies off me and carve out a moment to breathe.
Furthermore, with the increased range of context-sensitive Heat Actions and Extreme Heat Actions on providing that take benefit of the surrounding environment, I would often locate myself setting up an exclusive assault only to see it squandered towards a totally special one certainly because I came about to be standing subsequent to an ally, a lamppost, a flight of stairs or some other random object.
So for example, instead of pulling off a swing move capable of clearing out a couple of enemies by means of tossing some other enemy into them, Kiryu may alternatively function a flashy tag-team go with his buddy Nagumo to take out a single thug, which may be cool to watch however nonetheless leaves me with a depleted Heat meter and a throng of extra enemies to deal with.
This isn’t to say that this problem doesn’t occur in any of the different games, however overall, Yakuza 6 simply feels a tad much less responsive and extra “floaty” due to its framerate than the majority of different Yakuza video games on Xbox, which would possibly lead you to perform attacks you didn’t intend to in the heat of battle.
Anyway, much like Kiryu caving in the skulls of his hapless enemies to in some way appeal to their better angels, I hit solely because I care. Yakuza 6 does so many things proper as the final game in the Kazama Kiryu saga that there’s little else for me to criticize. In fact, one unsung characteristic of the game that definitely shocked me is that the game is definitely Japanese voice acted (and I do mean completely).
Outside of the ideas in Kiryu’s head, each and every line of dialogue is actually spoken, which helps to make the game’s many cutscenes greater engaging, together with these of the severa side-missions. Even the latest game in the series,
Yakuza: Like A Dragon nonetheless makes copious use of regular typewriter-sounding, voiceless textual content for its “C-grade” cutscenes in spite of boasting full voice acting in English and Japanese, so it was once a great surprise to see greater constant quality across the board with Yakuza 6 in that area. The change off seems to be a slower talking pace that makes the B and C-grade cutscenes experience a bit longer than necessary, however, I’ll gladly be given that exchange.
So in closing, is Yakuza 6 really worth checking out? Absolutely. If you’re a Yakuza fan like myself who’s been waiting years for this game to show up on Xbox, it’s a must-buy (even with its flaws). Naturally it’s additionally on Xbox Game Pass (which at the risk of sounding like a damaged record solely prices $1 to be a part of for a month), so if you’re new to the franchise and curious as to what all the fuss is about, there’s no motive for you to sleep on it either.
My solely advice to the latter crew is the following: All the mainline Yakuza video games (except for Yakuza: Like a Dragon) are now on Xbox Game Pass, so why rush? Do your self a favor and begin with both Yakuza 0 or Yakuza: Kiwami to get your feet wet, and then relying on how many spoilers matter to you, jump straight to Yakuza 6 if you appreciated what you noticed and can’t wait for the ending, or work your way via the different video games in chronological order to ride the collection as intended.
It’s possible that the earliest video games in the Yakuza franchise will be the first to go away the provider (if ever), so why no longer save the fantastic for last if you’ve got the time?