Yakuza 4

I’m in almost exactly the same situation re: Yakuza 3. I played it pretty straight through for a while, at which point I put it down because I was so overwhelmed by the side quests (esp. the keys, dates, Honest Living Association) that I stopped making progress altogether. I also got very frustrated when I learned that a lot of the items I could purchase were now useless thanks to the cut content (charisma, and some luck items).

Judging from the trophies though, I think I’m on the last chapter, so I should probably crank out the final missions if I’m going to pick up 4.

The stuff about it being a unique experience is definitely dead on though. “Japanese GTA” is a little glib as a description, but I think it’s accurate. It differs from GTA in sort of the same fashion that JRPGs differ from western RPGs. It’s just a very different interpretation of the “open world” concept (see also: Steambot Chronicles).

This happened to me 4-5 years ago with Yakuza 1. I petered out roughly 2/3rds through due to my OCD reliance on finishing the sidequests and discovering the locker keys. I wanted to scream everytime I discovered one of those were permanently missed because I pushed too far ahead in the plotline (Japan usually sucks about doing that in their games).

I have a strong respect and curiosity for the narrative storytelling though. The setting, atmosphere, and web-like genealogy that persists with all of the characters existing in this slice of big-city Japan, it can really draw you in if you allow it. I’m seriously considering dedicating the next few months of my game-time to a Yakuza marathon, they have been on my backlog for too long.

Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure every game since the first has allowed you to go back to previous areas so you can finish everything.

Except getting COMPLETE in all the Y3 minigames. Fuck that.

Pretty much nailed exactly why I love this series so much.

Zavvi just dispatched the game. Hoping for it to arrive sometime next week Monday-Wednesday.

I received my steelbook this morning and was greeted with the tagline “DO SOMETHING TERRIBLE TODAY”.

Oh Yakuza, u so crazy.

I am tempted by this, even though I don’t like open-world games much. I think it’s the mahjong parlors calling me.

It is the least open world game I can think of in any mechanical sense that still gets a piece of the label, at least in the western game maker sense. It just has an aesthetic feel to its navigational level that’s somewhat GTA-like, but really at least as much like a JRPG or adventure game in all of its artificial glory.

I’m interested – but how open world is it in terms of feeling like you are in a wide-open environment and can go anywhere and discover secrets and such? Or is it that you are limited to sections of the city at a time?

Apart from the very early game, you typically have either a slice of a city in Okinawa or a slice of Tokyo proper. That slice will have separate areas within it, whether it’s a gambling den or a mission area, and will include “interacteable people”, filler people, and incredibly belligerent low level yakuza. It’s navigated exclusively on foot apart from taxis and the like that work pretty much like a teleport. There are secrets, but in very much the mold of a JRPGs hidden chests or adventure game style missions. I would say it has more in common with FF12’s central city hub, for instance, than with any of the GTA cities, not least because you move around as a pedestrian.

I rarely felt limited or constrained within the context of the game, but it’s important to be clear that the resemblance to western open world games is definitely there but not one that you should probably pursue as if it were a key aspect of the game’s personality.

It’s not that big of a city but you can normally go anywhere you want.

The story is split up into chapters and there’s each new chapter opens up new side-missions, although some require you to have completed existing missions beforehand.

Aside from missions and finding locker keys, there aren’t many “secrets” to the game, nor things to discover. As said before, it’s first and foremost an RPG but with open-world navigation.

Yeah, I didn’t consider Y3 open world at all since it has basically zero emergent gameplay or creative allowance. Every quest or secret left around for you to discover has to be found or completed in the way intended by the developers. The city still feels fairly alive since the sidequests are staggered in a way that makes new ones pop up pretty much all the time while you’re wandering around, but it’s not comparable to a real sandbox game.

This pretty much. The sidequests are mostly mere vignettes that add a bit of color to the proceedings and the setting, but are never impactful on the flow of the plotting(At least with my experience with Yakuza 1).

Generally there is always a helpful guide on the minimap pointing out the next story mission, everything else is merely optional. Hostess bars, gambling, batting cages, golf range, arena fights, etc… Just there for flavor mostly.

That’s true, but it feels misleading, as to an extent, the game is nothing but flavor.

Received the game today. Played for about an hour or two, so far I really don’t care much for it. I hope it really picks up, or maybe it’s because it starts out with a different lead character in the beginning. I did end up playing about an hour of Maj Jong and I have absolutely no idea what I was doing. Glad it was in the game though, hopefully by the end I’ll master it. Maybe they can add Go as another minigame in the next installment.

That sounds a lot like Y3. At least in that one, there was a lot of character development happening in those scenes that would be relevant later in making the (melo)drama more significant. The cutscenes can be exasperating in their length, so you just have to find a coping mechanism. Sometimes I can watch it and just talk shit at the screen, sometimes I have to get up and walk around or something.

When you start controlling the pacing more yourself, it becomes a lot more enjoyable.

I don’t see Go forthcoming without multiplayer. Isn’t that really difficult to program AI for?

Thanks a ton for the feedback regarding open world-ness. Yeah, really does seem more like a JRPG. Not that that’s a bad thing, but going in expecting GTA, SR, or RDR would be a mistake. Read some reviews and it seems like it could be fun, may pick it up later. Thanks again!

No problem. I love the game, but it’s something you have to be ready for and even then you’re going to spend a lot of time saying “really? that’s what happens now?”. By the same token, though, it’s one of a handful of games that I’ve been interrupted halfway through and come back to finish. Who knew I ever wanted to be the protagonist in a Japanese gangster soap opera?

So far as I know no go program can beat a good amateur (shodan, say), but what percentage of gamers are good amateurs? I’d say that’s less than 1% in Japan, and less than 0.0001% in the US. If they licensed one of the better programs from someone, they could certainly provide a very challenging game for most players.

It’s not exactly a Yakuza pastime, though, so it might be out of place. On the other hand, is shogi a Yakuza game, either? Probably not…

I picked this up at Best Buy for $30 (used a $10 gift card I got for buying Crysis 2).

I’ve played every previous game in the series to about the 50% mark (about 20 hours each), and this is by far the best in the bunch.

The graphics are very much improved over Yakuza 3. At points they are actually quite stunning. The combat feels a bit more fleshed out this time around, with a lot more feedback for your moves. The best, however, is the story. I love the first character you play so far. And the story really kicks into overdrive within the first 2 hours (which is how far I am).

Adding to that the vast amount of side-content (with none cut this time), I can’t recommend this game enough. There is are also 3 full video recaps of the stories from Yakuza 1-3, if you hadn’t played them or missed a few.

However, I have no idea how to play Pachinko. Can anyone explain to me how to play the Virtua Fighter Pachinko machine? It looks intriguing, but I just twist the ball shooting knob and all this crazy Virtua Fighter drama occurs in the middle of the screen.

Thanks for the positive impressions. My copy should have arrived by now, so I hope that it will come in the mail tomorrow, or Friday at the latest.