"If you've never played a Yakuza game, Kiwami is the best place to start."
Kamurocho is a fictionalized version of Tokyo's pleasure district. Its streets are teeming with arcades, convenience stores, host clubs, and most importantly, Yakuza. Kazuma Kiryu, better known as the Dragon of Dojima, calls Kamurocho home; it serves as the backdrop for tales of revenge, mystery and betrayal. Yakuza Kiwami, a remake of the PS2 cult classic, has been significantly enhanced for PlayStation 4 and will serve as the perfect entry point into this world.
Yakuza Kiwami is an HD remaster of the original PlayStation 2 exclusive Yakuza game. The game felt like a spiritual successor to Sega's Shenmue series but failed to make an impact at launch. Most people looked at it and wrote it off as a Japanese GTA clone. However, in recent years, the Yakuza games have been building up a strong and dedicated fanbase in the West, and now fans will have the perfect way to experience the game that started it all. The biggest improvements coming to Kiwami include a completely new localization with original Japanese voiceovers, graphics in the Yakuza 0 engine, and random encounters with series antagonist Goro "Mad Dog" Majima. The four fighting styles that Kazuma can select from are also making the jump from Yakuza 0.
This particular Yakuza entry tells the story of Kazuma being released from prison after being held there for 10 years for a crime he didn't commit. He gets mixed up in some ugly business with a massive amount of money on the line and falls into the role of protector for a small girl named Haruka. As the game progresses, you learn more about Kazuma Kiryu and his troubled past, which begins to show how he became the legendary Dragon of Dojima.
What makes the Yakuza series so unique is its blend of hard-boiled Japanese drama with wacky and off-the-wall sidequests. Imagine if Sega made a video game version of The Godfather
; that's Yakuza. Have a serious discussion with your sworn brother, then relax by going to the batting cages. You can bounce between the main plot and the sidequests to make sure you don't get too bogged down by either of them.
If you've never played a Yakuza game, Kiwami is the best place to start. The updated visuals and localization on PlayStation 4 make it more accessible than ever. If you've already played it, you'll appreciate the updates even more, and if you are new to the series, you'll be in for an intense story that will leave you asking for more. If Yakuza Kiwami proves successful, we could be in store for a remake of the second game. It's wonderful to finally see this series getting the recognition it deserves.