They Keep Pulling Him Back In!

HIGH The ending of Yakuza 5 is one of the most perfect scenes in gaming.

LOW Why aren’t Yakuza: Dead Souls and the Samurai games included in this edition?

WTF Okay, I now get why those missions were originally cut.

There’s no safer bet in the world of videogames than the Yakuza series. Ever since the release of the first entry way back in 2006, it’s offered an uninterrupted streak of incredible brawling and top-tier storytelling. For a solid decade fans awaited the next chapter of the story with bated breath, eager to see what twists and turns the story would take, and how the developers would continue to evolve the fighting engine.

Narratively, series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu’s life is broken up into two halves. The first, covered in Yakuza 0, Kiwami, and Kiwami 2 (all available on the PS4, but not included in this collection) detail his attempts to make a go of it as the world’s most honorable gangster.

The second half is covered by the Yakuza Remastered Collection, which contains Yakuza 3, 4 and 5. These were already incredible on the PS3, so all Sega had to do was sharpen up the textures and get them running at 60FPS on a PS4. The fact that they went above and beyond transforms this from a great deal to an absolute treasure for anyone with a fondness for action RPGs.

At the start of Remastered, we find Kiryu leaving the mob behind to run an orphanage in Okinawa, only to find himself pulled back in when violence and corruption intrude on his idyll. I’ve frequently referred to Kiryu as the best main character in videogames, and his growth across 3, 4 and 5 cement that title as he develops from emotionally distant badass to stoic-yet-loving father figure who’ll sacrifice anything to protect his loved ones.

This drive involves plenty of the combat Yakuza is known for, and it’s as perfect here as it was in the original releases. While some may prefer the more recent Dragon Engine combat (found in Yakuza 6 and Judgment) which offers offering chaotic, physics-based combat meant to feel as realistic as possible, I remain a devotee of the precise, more gamey brawling featured here, which centers around learning enemy timing and executing perfect dodges. Whether the player is smashing enemies into walls or crushing them with motorcycles, the combat is always fast, brutal, and accessible — exactly as it should be.

Even though Kiryu is the main character of the series, this collection gives players the chance to try out many others, each with their own fighting styles and side stories.

While Yakuza 3 is relatively straightforward — bankers and mobsters want to tear down an orphanage, so it’s up to one very determined tough guy to stop them — 4 and 5 open the world up to a huge extent. Each one features multiple protagonists and plots expansive enough to give each one a full character arc and a grand finale.

While a case could be made that anyone who still owns a PS3 would be fine simply playing the originals on that platform, Sega has delivered a complete retranslation of the text, as well as restoration of content that was cut from the English language releases. The new script is great – there’s suddenly a lot more swearing which fits the tone well, but the restored content is the real draw.

Playing the original PS3 version of Yakuza 3 in English meant missing out on hostess club management, massage parlors, and a wide variety of side-stories deemed too hot for non-Japanese audiences. These included Kiryu’s accidental stint as a gigolo, and the third part of the star-crossed lovers tale from the previous two games! In addition, quest markers have been added to the map so players can find them without unlocking a required item or combing the streets after each new chapter begins.

All three of the Yakuzas featured in this collection are essentially perfect — each one boasts fantastic stories, great gameplay, and an opportunity to spend time in one of the most vibrant worlds in the history of videogames. Whether a player is someone who’s beaten the PS4 titles and wants to see the rest of the story, is a longtime fan considering a replay, or someone coming to the series fresh, I’d recommend this collection wholeheartedly.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Yakuza Studio and published by Sega. It is currently available on PS4. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 100 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the games were completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: This game is rated M by the ESRB, and it contains Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, and Use of Alcohol. Adults only for this collection, folks. Yes, the action is accessible to everyone, but there’s murder, strippers, storylines in which people are threatened with being forced into pornography and more. Just tons of bleak, seedy subject matter all over the place.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: I played the majority of the game without sound and encountered no difficulties. Every audio cue I encountered had a matching visual cue to go with it. All information is displayed via text. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, the game’s controls cannot be remapped. There is no control diagram. The left stick is used to move Kiryu, the right stick the camera, with face buttons for various attacks, and shoulder buttons handling locking on to enemies and blocking.

Daniel Weissenberger
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2 years ago

All three of the Yakuzas featured in this collection are essentially perfect”

I’m almost done with Y3 now that it’s finally on PC, and this game is a mess. The narrative is terribly paced, the fighting is garbage (yes, in comparison to Kiwami 2, but it’s just not fun on its own either), and the mini game activities are especially grindy.

AJ Small
2 years ago
Reply to  hdefined

Yakuza 3 is the Mario Sunshine of the series. Some love it, some despise it.

2 years ago
Reply to  AJ Small

Not a bad comparison, as I consider Sunshine a mess too.

2 years ago
Reply to  hdefined

Yeah, I hate Sunshine but love Yakuza 3. I think it is the worst of the series (except maybe Dead Souls) but there is something weirdly compelling about how the team made Yakuza 2 and instead of trying to outdo the bombast of it, they decided to have you run an orphanage for 15 + hours.

And yes, even though I love Yakuza 3, I probably wouldn’t call it perfect either.

Jarrod Johnston
3 years ago

I am 100% in agreement with this review, this set is fantastic, having the entire main franchise on disk on one platform is wonderful, but I have a huge complaint. I am only half way through Yakuza 3, but you can’t pause the cutscenes, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. Is that possible to do in 4 or 5?