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Yakuza 4 follows on from Yakuza 3 only this time, rather than only controlling Kiryu, you take on the role of four different characters in an intersecting story about constant betrayals and a hunger for money.
If you’ve ever played a Yakuza game before you’ll know exactly what to t expect with this Yakuza 4, particularly if you played the previous entry in the series, this time around though there’s a little twist on the formula since you’re controlling more than one person. All of the characters follow the same basic control scheme but their differences become more apparent the more time you spend with them, they each have their own fighting styles and skill trees and they can each learn from revelations in different ways. Since they each follow their own stories it means that, although the majority of the game takes place in Kamurocho, they do have their own areas to explore, Saejima for example can freely go about in the sewer systems and Tanimura is able to get inside the Little Asia district.
To begin with you play as Akiyama, a money lender who scraped himself up from nothing to be one of the most wealthy men in Kamurocho and he uses that wealth to help others in the city do the same by having them pass a test of his choosing to determine whether they are truly worthy of receiving his help since he only wants to help people to want to help themselves and doesn’t really care about his money. Akiyama is probably the fastest of the four characters, having a fighting style that focuses primarily on quick kicking and it’s this speed that made him my personal favourite to use.
Following Akiyama you’ll switch to Saejima, a former hitman who has spent the last 25 years of his life as a death row inmate and it’s only after a transfer to a new facility in Okinawa that he meets someone with aspirations of breaking out and lets Saejima in on his plan. Saejima is the slowest of the four, relying more on power than speed but he can also charge up his attacks and is harder to knock down than the others, due to his strength over the others he can also pick up things like scooters and motorbikes to use during his street fights.
Tanimura is the third character you’ll play as and is a community safety detective within the Kamurocho PD who is searching for the truth about his father’s murder 25 years ago. He’s not above accepting bribes but still leverages his position to ensure that people are safe above all else. Tanimura fights with his hands but is able to use reversals and holds to turn his opponents’ strength against them.
Lastly Yakuza 4 finally focuses in on its star of the show, Kiryu, the ex Tojo chairman who now runs an orphanage in Okinawa. Controlling much the way he did in the last game he also has some skills and abilities unlocked from the start as a way of indicating it’s a continuation of his adventure. Kiryu mixes up his skills with kicks and punches and is arguably the most effective fighter due to having more moves available to him than any of the others.
The characters having their differences is a nice touch but the game as a whole largely plays the same regardless of which of the characters you’re using, they just find themselves in different scenarios and the sub-stories they have available seem to be themed around the things they do, for example Tanimura can handle minor crimes on the street and is alerted to the goings on in the city with the device he wears in his ear while Saejima, who mostly spends his time underground, will often help the downtrodden and the homeless. Thankfully you don’t have to worry about getting every little thing completed before you progress too far and switch character since there will come a point in the game where you can freely switch between them and get everything finished up if you don’t like leaving loose ends.
There are still a wide range of things to do with each of the characters, from playing baseball to going golfing since the series’ well known and loved minigames are all still present, though this time around I focused more on the story aspects of the game rather than trying out everything since Yakuza 4 is so similar to its predecessor. By the time I finished the game I had been playing it for a little more than 50 hours and was just barely under 25% complete, so that should give you some idea of the amount of content available, while it does sound like a lot though, it does count things such as eating all the food from the different restaurants and collecting the various weapons and such so it might not seem as full as it appears on the surface when you get down to playing it yourself. There is the odd new mini-game though such as the fighter maker which sees you teaching a lowly fighter to get to the top rank and come out victorious in fights, similar to the hostess maker mini-game.
If you like Yakuza games you should definitely give this one a go, it’s well worth the time you put into it and the story is great, watching to see how everything comes together in the end is very fun, my only gripe however is that there’s no way to pause the cutscenes and if you’re like me and don’t speak Japanese, it means you’re going to miss what’s happening if you have to take your attention away from it for whatever reason.
Yakuza 4 Remastered is part of the Yakuza Remastered collection that contains Yakuza 3, 4 and 5. Yakuza 5 is due to be released on February 11th 2020. If you want to learn more about the Yakuza Remastered Collection you can visit this link and if you want to check out our review of Yakuza 3 Remastered you can go here or if you want to buy the collection, you can visit the link below;