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Yakuza 3 puts you in the shoes of Kazuma Kiryu, fourth chairman of the Tojo Clan, also known as the Dragon of Dojima. Having not played either the first two games or their prequel, I can’t really tell you much about him other than what you learn by playing this one. What I can tell you is that he’s ex Yakuza and cares for his kids relative to the amount of ass he kicks, which just happens to be a lot.
Though the game is a remaster of the original PS3 release I can’t say that I have noticed too many enhancements, though to be fair, it has been a long time since I last played this game on the PS3. What is different is that a lot of the content that was cut from the original here in the West has now been restored, giving a more complete version. This means that even if you played the original to death there’s still a reason for you to pick this version up, not to mention that you’ll also get Yakuza 4 and 5 when they release as well.
Yakuza 3 takes place in two major locations; Okinawa, where he lives in his beach front orphanage with several kids and Kamurucho, arguably the series’ most iconic locale. Most of the game you’ll spend wandering the streets of both places doing various side quests for many of the locals and let me tell you, there are a ton of side quests. So far with all my play time, the majority has been spent doing the many sub stories and no two are alike, some might have you preventing a suicide, looking for lost dogs or some solving some other wacky situation.
The game’s not all strutting about the streets rushing to the aid of others though, there’s a great story to be told concerning the fate of the Tojo Clan but I won’t spoil that here, you’ll have to play for yourself to find out. What I will tell you that Yakuza 3 has a big focus on combat with some RPG like mechanics, you’ll find that you end up in street fights fairly regularly and even more so if you equip Kiryu with specific items. When it comes to the fighting you have a heavy and light attack and fighting successfully without being hit will build up your heat metre which allows you to perform contextual finishers based on your surroundings or the item you’re holding.
You can also guard and dodge attacks but I always find it a lot easier to go on the offensive when in a fight with more than one person and save the defence for the one on one boss fights since they are much more difficult to beat and you can’t just mash away at them. The bosses employ special moves more often than the random street riffraff and make liberal use of their guard meaning you have to pay attention when you fight them and wait for an opening or you’re going to have a hard time. When fighting the bosses you also get access to special heat moves you can only use when fighting them which will take effect when the boss is low on health, you have to tap the button to charge your heat up to full and then pick which one you want to execute. It’s a good move and deals a decent amount of damage but from what I’ve seen it never finishes them off.
Since you’re regularly engaging in street fights, Kiryu can pick up all manner of items to help beat down his foes, from park benches to random pairs of pliers his creativity to use random objects as weapons knows no bounds. When you get so far into the game you’ll come across a black market arms dealer who’ll sell you weapons to keep in your inventory that you can have modded or repaired so you can make them more effective and they won’t disappear after use like the street items. Often times when you use a weapon you’ll intimidate your enemies, causing them to back off, leaving them open to attack, some enemies are more resilient than others though and you’ll even have a hard time of grappling them.
There’s a lot to love about Yakuza 3 that you’d never know about if you brushed it off because of how it looks on the surface, it’s so jam packed full of content that it’s great value for money any way you slice it. As well as the massive amount of sub stories there’s also a long list of mini games to play; ranging from taking a swing at the batting cages to betting all your money on a game at the mahjong tables and many more in between. Among the content restored in this remastered version is the hostess mini game in which you work for a cabaret club and have to help the hostess you choose rise to the number one rank.
On the outside Yakuza 3 might seem it’s nothing but crime drama and violence, given that the Yakuza is essentially the Japanese mafia but the game is actually full of heart and many endearing moments and it’s quite hard to put down. The action parts are great and there’s a lot of unexpected humour and it provides a lot of play time. Considering the Yakuza Remastered Collection contains three games it’s fantastic value for money, it also completes the collection on PS4 meaning from Yakuza Zero all the way up to Yakuza 6 The Song of Life are all available on one platform so there’s never really been a better time to get involved with the series.
If you’re looking for other Yakuza related fun you might be disappointed to learn there aren’t anymore available on PS4, at least in the West. Yakuza Dead Souls was a zombie filled spin off that was available for the PS3, which you may be able to find online if you don’t mind going back a generation while Yakuza Kenzan for PS3 and Yakuza Inshin for PS4 were other spin offs set in different time periods but only released inside of Japan.
Here’s hoping that SEGA decide to remaster and release these spin offs to the West, particularly Yakuza Inshin which I had my eye on during the early days of the PS4 but never played due to my inability to speak Japanese.
Yakuza 3 Remastered is part of the Yakuza Remastered Collection which contains 3, 4, and 5;
Yakuza 4 Remastered will be available 29th October 2019.
Yakuza 5 Remastered will be available 11th February 2020.
Look for our reviews for those two titles some time shortly after their release.