Yakuza Kiwami 2 Review

Richard Walker

There is no one in the known universe like Yakuza series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. A paragon of virtue, with an unwavering moral compass, he also happens to be hard as nails, able to absorb being smacked around the back of the head with a champagne bottle without flinching even a little bit. He's everything I aspire to be – as completely unrealistic as that may be - and Yakuza Kiwami 2 is everything I could possibly ask for from a video game.

As a relative newcomer to the series, for me, Yakuza Kiwami 2 poses an exciting prospect off the back of the first Kiwami and Yakuza 0, continuing the ongoing saga of Kiryu and other familiar faces like the always unhinged Goro Majima, spanning the immersive Kamurocho in Tokyo and Sotenbori in Osaka. Steadfastly committed to sporting his iconic grey suit, burgundy shirt, and snakeskin shoes combo, Kiryu this time finds himself embroiled in yet another serpentine crime story, one that involves many of the same players from the events of the previous game one year ago.


There's a violent power struggle within the Omi Alliance, thanks to blonde scar-faced tough guy Ryuji Goda making waves, throwing the cat amongst the pigeons with a grand plan to take over Kamurocho and wipe out Kiryu and the Tojo Clan. After all, there can only be one dragon, and with Kiryu enjoying a fearsome reputation as the Dragon of Dojima, Goda as the Dragon of Kansai, wants the label all to himself. A tense head-to-head between the two ensues, and although Goda only appears at key moments during Yakuza Kiwami 2's storyline, he's a pervasive, ominous presence throughout.

Also, because all of the aforementioned isn't quite complicated enough, there's the Korean Jingweon Mafia out for vengeance against the Tojo Clan too, and inevitably Kiryu finds himself caught right in the middle of the whole affair. Partnering up with Osaka PD cop Kaoru Sayama, you'll look to get to the bottom of why the Jingweon are so hellbent on carrying out their vendetta, but not at the expense of exploring Kamurocho and Sotenbori to engage in tussles with street punks, enjoy all manner of mini-games, drink a fine whisky, grab some gyoza, or get swept up in a bunch of completely mad sub stories, as is the Yakuza way.

While (like any Yakuza game) the main story is straight-laced drama, Kiwami 2 lets its hair down for each of its 70-odd off-the-wall sub-stories, whether it's helping kids with a job interview, taking a tourist on a tour of the city's pervy sights, learning moves with Master Komiki, aiding an inventor with his new peeing game, getting an amnesiac to regain his memory with an electric shock, enjoying some slightly uncomfortable live-action photoshoots, or bringing together a singer and songwriter to make sweet music. And putting your own vocal prowess to the test with a bout of karaoke too, obviously.

Then there's the Clan Creator, returning from Yakuza 6 as a tower-defence-style side activity as part of Majima's new construction enterprise, wherein you have to build your crew and defend building materials and vehicles from attacking gangs. It's not the most streamlined or enjoyable thing in Yakuza Kiwami 2, but it's a neat little distraction from busting heads with Kiryu.

As is the Cabaret Club Management mini-game cherry-picked from Yakuza 0, which sees Kiryu turning his hand to shepherding hostess club Four Shine to supremacy. If you enjoyed Cabaret Club fun with young Majima at the Sotenbori Sunshine club in Yakuza 0, then you'll no doubt relish the chance to do it all over again and enjoy the strangely engaging narrative strand that comes with it.

When you're not taking in the sights, sounds and bright lights of the city, you'll be getting mixed up in scuffles, and like Yakuza 6 (unfortunately still exclusive to PS4 at time of writing), the Dragon Engine enables you to seamlessly go from open-world exploration to fights with nary a loading screen in sight. The combat system itself also makes the transition from Y6, with an expanded arsenal of charge attacks and even more Heat actions, including brutal, stylish boss finishers. This also means that the fighting styles from Yakuza 0 and the first Kiwami have been ditched (again, like Yakuza 6) giving you easy access to a range of weapons on the d-pad instead.

With a full Heat bar, Kiryu can also summon 'Extreme Heat', granting increased strength and moves you'll be familiar with from the previous games' Beast fighting style. As the bar gradually empties, you can steam through enemies like a tank, hurling motorbikes and any other objects that are usually too heavy to pick up. Heat moves continue in the same unflinchingly violent tradition, seeing the Dragon of Dojima mashing heads into walls, throwing enemies crotch-first into lampposts, pulling out teeth with pliers, or driving a blade into an enemy's gut with a leaping knee attack. As ever, Yakuza's brawling isn't for the faint of heart.


Environmental takedowns also remain a wince-inducing joy, with crates, traffic cones, bicycles, tables, chairs, signs, and whatever else comes to hand available for bashing faces with impunity. Fighting thugs is still one of Yakuza's forte's, which is fortunate since you'll be doing an awful lot of it during your time as Kazuma Kiryu, and it never gets old. But it's the story that'll keep on driving you forward through Yakuza Kiwami 2, compelling from the very beginning to the bitter end. And once you've dispensed with Kiryu's tale, there's the all-new Majima Saga to enjoy too, a short, supplementary campaign that bridges the gap between the events of the first two games.

Few games manage to so expertly walk a tightrope like the Yakuza series, delivering an absorbing narrative and tongue-in-cheek silliness in its side content (all brilliantly localised for a western audience too), and Yakuza Kiwami 2 is yet another triumphant example. It's also a remake that goes above and beyond, with brand new content, gorgeous visuals, and more mini-games – including Virtua Fighter 2 and Virtua On - than you can shake a baseball bat at.

Taking its cue from Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, Yakuza Kiwami 2 feels like a brand new game rather than a remake, with the same levelling system, combat and seamless open-world in which you can transition between exterior and interior locations free of loading. Throw in fresh mechanics, mini-games, story-based content and more besides, and there really is no reason not to take the plunge in Kamurocho and Sotenbori, and drink in everything that Yakuza Kiwami 2 has to offer.

Yakuza Kiwami 2

Yes, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the third Yakuza game for Xbox One this year, but on the strength of this, SEGA can keep them coming as far as I'm concerned. If you've played Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza 0 (and even if you haven't) you need Yakuza Kiwami 2 in your life. You need Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima in your life. Now let's have Yakuza 3, 4, 5, and 6 on Xbox, please.

Form widget
90%
Audio
85%

From Kiryu's singing to the soundtrack itself and the consistently excellent voice acting, Yakuza Kiwami 2 always sounds wonderful. Some music can occasionally grate a bit, however.

Visuals
90%

Yakuza Kiwami 2 continues the series' tradition of detailed, realistic character models, and makes both Kamurocho and Sotenbori feel even more immersive than they've ever been before. Virtual tourism at its finest.

Playability
90%

Fighting is endlessly enjoyable and filled with inventive ways to beat your foes into submission. Kiwami 2 takes Yakuza 6's combat and fleshes it out further, making for an enjoyable and exciting brawler experience. Outside of fighting, the wealth of mini-games and sub stories give you plenty of fun stuff to do.

Delivery
90%

Polished to within an inch of its life, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the most complete and substantial entry in the series yet. Beyond the main storyline, there's the Majima Saga, 2-player mini-games, brawling in the underground Coliseum and loads more besides. Simply brilliant.

Achievements
85%

Another fantastic list that covers almost every single one of Yakuza Kiwami 2's many bases. There's still an achievement for completing the game at Legend difficulty (like the other games), which can be tricky, but the rest are superb. You'll have a blast going for the full 1,000G.

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