Okay, so I'm probably the last person on staff that you all expected to play Yakuza 3. I feel like I'm going to be teased for this...
This is my first experience with the Yakuza series, and this is the first game I've decided to play on my newly purchased PS3. I heard about the Yakuza series during Run to the Sun 2009, as Manny spoke of this series with the highest praise. Since the first and second Yakuza titles are stupid expensive everywhere I've looked in Toronto, I'm hoping to go back to them if and when I can get them a bit cheaper than $70.
All right, enough background. On with the blog!
03/12/10 - 2 hours
So far I have completed the prologue and the first two chapters. I have to say, because I've never played the original two Yakuza titles, I did sit and watch the major plot events for them so I could get myself up to speed. I have to say, I really am enjoying the story. It certainly has a film-noir feel. I enjoy the fact that the story is a bit on the slow-side, as it gives me the chance to really absorb the rise and fall of the various families. I enjoy the subtly of Kiryu's character, as he seems closer to the good-hearted yakuza. I'm not going to say too much about the story simply because I still haven't gotten fair enough to really comment on it.
I have to say, the graphics are really impressive. They are so realistic, and I adore the facial expressions and exaggerated poses. Everything feels completely seamless between the cutscenes and the actual gameplay. It's amazing to see the amount of detail that has gone into this game to make this seamless flow work and work well. I love the environments, especially the insane amount of detail, although one complaint I have is that in each area I've encountered, I've noticed I haven't been able to go into too many of the buildings. I'm assuming its because I'm not far enough yet. There is so much to explore though. Also OKINAWA! Okinawa is awesome and running through the ocean is just so much fun. I'm easily amused by the simple things.
ALSO... I'm a jerkface. I say this because it shouldn't amuse me so much to shove people in public. I keep running in the cities and running people over with my absolute machoness. Seriously, I knocked over an old man in the game and felt HORRIBLE, but then knocked over a teenager and laughed. I'm a terrible human being.
Combat is easily my favourite part of this game. I love getting into a rumble with street punks and other yakuza. Why? Because I kick butt. Okay, that's kind of a lie, as I'm generally terrible at actiony combat. Honestly though, I kinda love being able to grab enemies and throw them, or kick them in the shins and they go down like a ton of bricks. One thing that I love is the Heat Mode. Going into Heat Mode allows Kiryu to power up, and allows for stronger moves. For example, if I pick up a bicycle while in Heat Mode, Kiryu will do a power move and slam the bicycle into someone's head. You can also do powerful finishers, though currently I only have access to the Headbutt finisher, which is exactly as it sounds.
Yakuza really is a mix a brawler, an RPG and a sandbox game. Kiryu does gain levels and his moves can be customized by accessing the menu and hitting upgrade. Besides combat there are all kinds of different ways to gain xp and yen such as eating in a restaurant and clear many of the side quests. This REALLY helps mostly because I love that I can stop and eat something and then all of a sudden have xp. I had a smoothie yesterday while in Okinawa and all of a sudden, FOUR XP. I was so excited. Not I just need to find me some froyo.
So far I've only fought two bosses and they were really challenging. You can choose your difficultly level at the beginning of the game (easy, normal and hard) and I picked normal. I haven't gotten a game over yet, but I've been really close during the boss fights. Mind you, trying to grapple a boss into submission is REALLY hard and I find the reverse often happens and instead the boss ends up pinning to the ground. They are a great challenge, though I'm nervous to think how much more challenging the bosses are going to get as I progress further in the game.
I'm sorry if my thoughts are a bit all over the place at the moment, as I'm still trying to digest a lot of what I've played. Feel free to ask questions and I'll try my best to answer them as best as I can. More soon!
Also random note, but Sega puts out terrible instruction manuals. The one I got with Yakuza 3 is utter crap.
03/16/10 - 8 hours
I'm nearing the end of Chapter 4 at the moment, although I've spent the last few days noodling around with the game and doing lots of side-quests. Side-quests really are the only way to gain xp in this game, and the more people you help + the better you role play, equals plenty of shiny xp.
Any ways, I wanted to check in because Yakuza 3 has made me LOL big time. The game has an e-mail feature, where in Kamuza can use his camera phone to take a picture of something inspiring. What was the first inspiring event? A woman on a shooter is riding along, sees a billboard of a handsome Koren pop-singer. Barely paying attention, the lady's scooter hits the back of a car and she flips into the air, still dreaming of said pop singer, and BANG lands a perfect ten back onto the pavement unharmed. So what did I do? I took a picture and posted it on my BLOG. That's right folks, Kazuma has a blog. It's called "My Inspiration" and it just makes me smile. I hope for more moments in the game where I can use the camera phone.
Seriously though, I love this game. It has it's flaws, but they feel very minor. One thing I will say though, the golf minigame is crap. It's poorly explained and I felt like beating myself over the head with the controller. However, my trusty and faithful boyfriend did not let me do that, and instead he took it for a whirl and clearly had more patience than I did. However, the baseball minigame is AWESOME. Why? Nothing better than watching all of Kazuma's cute little orphans faceplant every time they chase the ball. They are so cute. <3
I'm on my way back to Tokyo to kick some yakuza butt. I'm still trying to think what my favourite takedown move has been, and so far I think it might be the smacking a guy with a bench, then stomping down on the bench. It's pretty hardcore.
...I'm pretty sure I'm still not macho enough to be playing this game.
03/17/10 - 10 hours
I finally got my first game over. I was fighting Kanda of the Nikishi family, and he managed to land a lucky hit and I went down like a sack of bricks. Thankfully, I retried, and beat him without breaking too much of a sweat on my second try. Right now I'm deep into Chapter 6 and a lot of interesting things have happened, along with a few situations that have taken a turn for the worst.
Fighting in a love hotel was interesting, mostly because Kazuma would kick down doors looking for Kanda and end up catching people making out and then screaming, and Kazuma gets flustered when he gets those rooms. I had lots of yakuza try and knife fight me every few seconds too, but thankfully Rikiya was with me to help take out the trash.
This game, while not suppose to be humorous, does have a wicked sense of humor. There's a great scene where Rikiya and Kazuma are forced to be <span class="spoiler">lovers</span> in order to raid a love hotel. Just the comic timing by Rikya, and the dumbfoundness of Kazuma made me laugh out loud. Rikya is a fantastic sidekick, and he's got a lot of spunk and personality, even if he refuses to do as Kazuma tells him.
It looks as thought I'm about halfway at this point. There's only twelve chapters and I'm just finishing up chapter six.
03/25/10 - 17 hours
This will likely be my last post in this blog as I'm nearing the finale of the game with only one chapter to go. Man, this game has stomped on my heart a lot. So much so that it actually hurts. Kiryu's cause is incredibly touching, and <span class="spoiler">having to watch the thing he cherishes most be destroyed? Kinda sad seeing the Orphanage get destroyed by the Tamashiro Clan. Equally sad was watching Mikio nearly die over protecting a dog house that he built for Izumi's dog Rex. I nearly cried there.</span>
This game tugs at the heartstrings, and it wants you to be invested. Well, here I am Yakuza 3. I'm invested, you've attempted to make me cry, but I will finish you and then hate the fact that you will be over. I hated that you <span class="spoiler">killed Rikiya off</span>, but love you for having such a strong story.
Also, the boss of Chapter 11 was cheap. Every so often he'd shoot up into the sky and call for backup. Although you could land a few hits while he reloads his gun, the reality is that he's always going to pop off at least five shots (which by the way, never miss) while you attempt to deal with his cronies. Of all the boss fights, even the two I had to re-do, this was by far the most annoying and poorly paced boss fight of them all. I'd hate to think what the final boss is going to be like. Cheap, cheap, cheap.
Thankfully, since <span class="spoiler">Goro Round 2</span>, I haven't gotten a game over in awhile. This means I may actually be getting better with the combat. As someone who isn't use to action-oriented combat, I give myself props for sticking with it. I feel like I've got this really good groove going.
Also, blog posts give you finishing moves. How awesome is that? Now I have drunkin' style and some sweet grapplin' moves. I'm hardcore.
That's all from me. The next time this blog will be updated is when the review goes up, which will be sometime either Monday or Tuesday as I have a busy weekend ahead of me. We shall see.
Hope you guys had fun reading this blog, and I hope my thoughts have gotten you excited or curious to give Yakuza 3 a go.
03/28/10 - 18 hours - Completed.
Well, it's finally over, and I am very sad. This was the biggest surprise I've had in a long time, and I somewhat hate that it's done. I'm not going to say much, other then the ending was fantastic, it cleared a few things up that occurred in the game, and it just makes you feel good. Kazuma Kiryu is such a strong character, that all I can hope for now is to either acquire Yakuza 1 and 2, and possibly hope that someone (maybe Sega, hinthint) will bring over Yakuza 4.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this blog. I will be closing the blog off once the review hits index in the next few days.
Stay classy, RPGamer readers.