Yakuza 6: The Song of Life [PS4 Game Review]

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I’ve been a hardcore Yakuza fan since the original game came out on PS2. It was something so incredibly unique while also being exactly “my thing” with the whole organized crime story and this perfectly crafted main character who is the ultimate badass and also a complete goofball without either one being compromised by the other. Every time a new game came out I got it right at release and played through hours upon hours every day getting more and more time each game – usually 50-100 hours and that’s not even 100%ing them. Yakuza 5 is my absolute favorite and easily the best of the franchise, though all the games are great and 4 is only barely losing out on the top spot.

The only exception to that love being 3 which is in EVERY SINGLE WAY a completely terrible game, and for far more reasons than being censored in the west. Also, as they’ve come out, I have a strong disdain for the Kiwami games which remove and change more content than Y3’s original release which ironically got a huge uproar in response about how horrible they were for doing that…but with Kiwami everyone praises it. This is what happens when the fans are now faker normies who are just interested in whatever is popular at the time.

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This isn’t about Yakuza 3 or the Kiwami games though, it’s about the newest title and the big finale for the story of Kazuma Kiryu and Haruka Sawamura.

I started writing this back when Yakuza 6 had just come out and I just beat it…and then forgot to ever finish writing it or post it so now 5 months later I’m trying to do that so it may be a little awkward.

Let me restate this – this is about Yakuza 6. Six is a number that comes AFTER the numbers five (5), four (4), three (3), two (2), and even one (1). I’ve noticed every game journalist, every game reviewer, and many gamers in general seem to completely lack the knowledge of what numbers mean and that they are used to tell you which part comes when. “Thanks” to Yakuza 0 this game sold to a bunch of fucking retards who know nothing about the series to the point of NOT EVEN KNOWING WHO HARUKA IS. Yakuza is not fucking Street Fighter, it’s not Call of Duty, it’s not a new Elder Scrolls or Fallout game.

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Yakuza is one single long running story line through now 7 chronological games. You cannot just jump in at 6 when you’re missing the near five hundred hours of content from the prior games. Not only is it one long running narrative, it’s AN EXTREMELY COMPLEX ONE with a million characters, organizations, families, politics that are very important every step of the way, events that make later games happen at all or characters exist, and so on. You cannot just jump into that whenever, even within a single game you have to follow like 5 organizations and 50 fucking names and those MATTER TO THE REST OF THE GAMES so you can’t just forget them.

However, more important than all of those groups and people – Yakuza as a franchise up to now is entirely about Kazuma Kiryu and Haruka Sawamura. These two are developed heavily in every single game and a primary factor in all of them is Kiryu’s role as her makeshift father and the bond between them as well as the player’s own feelings towards Haruka as a daughter-like figure and Kiryu as this legendary gangster who is also a bit of a retard and a really good dad. There is no game where that bond and development is more important to in the series than Yakuza 6. This is not a game to just fucking jump into.

I’m wasting way too much time on saying this but it pisses me off seeing these people just fucking leaping in from 0 to 6 as if they’re toddlers who have no understanding why one of them has a fucking 6 after it and the other doesn’t have a 5. I’ve seen and heard so many complaints about how “Haruka isn’t developed enough” or questioning who this guy living in the sewers is or why he matters at all and other things like that. It’s awful.

Anyway, on to a review by someone not fucking retarded AND who also knows that 6 is not what comes directly after 0 or 1.

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It’s not for the same reasons as people jumping in at random – at least not entirely, but I have to say I’m actually extremely disappointed in this game, in part because of things that contradict a lot of what I just said. They knew this was the big finale, the ultimate conclusion of Kiryu’s story and with that probably the majority of the cast and his friends, yet almost nobody involved in the main story is a return character. There’s Kiryu, Haruka, Detective Date, his wife who runs New Serena and has zero relevance to anything, very small bits with Akiyama, and a short cameo of everyone’s favorite ugly host Yuya along with even SHORTER cameos from Taiga, Daigo, and Majima who are on screen for about 30 seconds total. Why would you do that in the ultimate ending of a 7 game legacy? Why would you not have every single main-story character and main-supporting cast member you possibly could involved this time around? They have in every single game leading up to this, so it’s even more upsetting. It’s like this was made FOR those retards who played only 0 and/or Kiwami and jumped directly to 6. In fact, I’m convinced it was.

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I understand the focus is on Haruka, Kiryu, and Haruto (Haruka’s baby)…but why does that have to mean excluding absolutely everyone and everything else? The Tojo clan itself even plays nothing but a side role to the main story that runs alongside the Haruto storyline in a very contrived and stupid way. It’s not like it makes up for it by actually BEING focused on those 3 characters either because it fucking isn’t. The game ends up feeling like a side story about the newly introduced Hirose Family – a small Yakuza outfit with the people that are basically the main characters in this game and that the entire story revolves around for whatever fucking reason.

Then beyond the lacking cast and things clearly missing from the story you get a game in a series known for it’s side stories and tens to hundreds of hours worth of minigames and other content that instead has almost fucking nothing to do in it. There are only about 50 total sub-stories and that includes a lot of shit that takes all of 10 seconds to do and is just very lazy “progress this side game and it counts as a side story”, they removed half of even the most basic arcade games (no crane games????), and it’s all very quick and easy to fully complete.

Here’s a list of all the side stuff you can do in this game which also makes up the majority of sub-stories;

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  • Some admittedly cool this time around arcade games like straight up Virtua Fighter 5 and Puyo Puyo along with old classics like Space Harrier and Hang-On. Fun for about 1 hour, especially given the driving ones are IMPOSSIBLE to control on a fucking PS4 controller when they were controlled with steering wheels or in the case of Hang-On with your entire body and balancing on a motorcycle as the controller. Then again all these games aside VF5 were forced into Kiwami to homogenize and be lazy when originally they always had new games.

 

  • Darts which is fun but you get through all of it and the associated side story for it within 30 minutes or so total because they give you no fucking opponents. The sub-story was like 5 minutes long but Paul Lim who I assume is a real pro dart player is kind of funny.

 

  • Rizap Challenge which I kinda liked, it’s just very short like 30 second push a button fast or in a rhythm then try and figure out the food you’re supposed to eat (which is impossible, I think I got it right like once). Takes no time at all, though completing all 12 challenges does take a little bit of overall time just due to not wanting to grind through them. Hilariously enough, Rizap is a real thing…which means one of the only pieces of side content in this entire game is just a gigantic fucking advertisement for their program!

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  • Fishing which I feel is much better in this game than in the prior ones. This time around it’s an on-rails shooter where you play as Kiryu diving in the ocean and spearfishing and silly over the top bosses. Problem is there are only 3 total missions that play out identically each progressive time. I had a lot of fun doing it but when it’s only 3 places to take on it becomes boring. Very quick and easy way to make a fuck ton of money though, especially once you get better spear guns. Spent a few hours on it. The side story attached literally takes maybe 30 minutes maximum to complete.

 

  • A bar thing? I don’t know what to call this but it was also sort of an enjoyable little very relaxed in comparison to most Yakuza content thing. You just go to this bar and the goal is simply to befriend everyone and help them with their troubles as you progress the story of each patron one at a time. Each one felt a bit more like old side stories unlike the new much less detailed shorter ones, so I liked that. It also did a good job of making you, the player, feel like you became a regular by the end. Took probably a few or more hours to complete fully. It only unlocks by playing the very lazy baseball simulation though, so if you don’t do that you don’t get to do this because fuck you. The “gameplay” of this is basically just picking the right choices and, if you fail, doing it again until you learn what the right choices are – not exactly fun but not very hard once you figure out what types of answers the game wants out of you and the cast involved typically made up for it.

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  • Baseball Simulation. It’s just a VERY lite-sim where you don’t even HAVE to change your lineup really at all to win every game though it requires a little “grinding” but given you can get through games in like 5-10 minutes it isn’t a big deal. The batting itself is fun but you don’t get to do it much at all (just go to the batting center for that). There was a point about halfway through it’s ‘story’ that I did have to go recruit some people to make it a little more likely to win, but even that’s pretty simple. Maybe 5 hours to complete, but you don’t do anything during that time so it’s pretty lame.

 

  • Batting Center. The batting in this game is actually pretty fun and way more challenging than in the past in a good way so the “challenge course” stuff is alright. I don’t like that it unlocks a retardedly impossible side story that requires 5 home runs IN A ROW with 10 total balls, which apparently if you manage that somehow then becomes getting 7 in a row in the same total tries. 30 minutes here, once I got that challenge I had no interest anymore.

 

  • Karaoke. Karaoke is back with fucking only 2 singable songs for Kiryu and I think like 3 or 4 songs for him to do his hilarious back up yelling to. I didn’t expect it but you absolutely need to bring a hostess with you to sing Butterfly – if you do it alone you don’t get the imaginary video and it’s the absolute best one. The songs are all pretty alright. Probably spent about 30 minutes total with karaoke stuff. Got 100 on one song, high 98+ on the rest. Sadly, again due to complete laziness, you cannot bring ANYBODY to karaoke except the hostesses.

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  • Live Chat. I like Live Chat. I like Anri Okita. I like big juicy milkers on Japanese women and honestly all women aside fat ones (fat girls with “big tits” never actually have big tits, they just have disgusting blobs of their regular fat that tries to shape itself like a breast but fails horribly) or those with horrendous faces. Live chat lets me look at Anri Okita while I’m enjoying a video game. Live Chat is good. Short though, and 80% of the content you see are the same clips that then lead into new ones each time, making it feel like a chore. Hilarious too, Kiryu slowly typing B…O…O…B…I…E…S!!!! is one of the best moments in Yakuza.

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  • Hostess Club. These are back as always – yet sadly RUNNING it is gone, though I think that was missing in 5 as well but I don’t fully remember. This time you’re limited to just club Shine and 5 women. None are great looking but the actual real-world pro-wrestler girl ended up pretty cute and fun to interact with and the 5th girl who is from Taiwan which initially turned me off from bothering with her is actually a fucking weeaboo who even makes her own cosplay and talks to a man who is clearly a yakuza about how she loves anime songs so she was alright too. The short haired one sadly has an obnoxious voice and is a very typical girly-girl instead of a tomboy at all. I never talked to the other 2 just because I never got around to it. The minigame itself isn’t that great this time either – I like the “cards” idea given this system has never been great but this gives you more control at least…but they took out basic staples of these types of clubs like the champagne tower and stuff that I was excited to get for this wrassler after I made like 3 million from fishing. These could take some time but they really don’t, maxing out and completing a girl’s story only takes about 30-45 minutes of clubbing total. The girls also repeat lines pretty much immediately so it makes grinding their levels out pretty bland.

 

  • Mahjong. It’s Mahjong. I used to kind of know how to play and could do alright in online games, I don’t know now though so it’s impossible to do shit even against AI. Takes how long you want it to.

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  • Clan Battles. Interesting idea and it wasn’t terribly implemented, but yet again a very short story. While I enjoyed the battles themselves the fact they FORCE YOU to watch an UNSKIPPABLE cutscene every single time you start a battle and end a battle just makes it excruciating at times. I finished the story up to the optional Amon fights very quickly – but I will admit I used some code generated cards which made it much easier…but had I not it really would not have been enjoyable at all for me with how much time it took to start or end them. It would have been better without the intro-outro taking so long/being unskippable, and if it was a little more strategic rather than just spam everything – like maybe something similar to Fort Condor in FF7. Also the fact the story is entirely focused on New Japan Pro Wrestling top stars makes it kinda fun to go through and made me kind of a fan of them in the real world (especially the rainmaker and whatever the tranquilo dude’s name is).

 

And that’s it. It might sound like a lot but let me boil it down a little bit from that list. There are 12 minigames and all of them are rather short (if they have an ‘ending’, so not including playing arcade games for example). Really the only thing you get any real time out of is baseball and it involves SITTING THERE WATCHING A SIMULATION which is just text lines telling you what happened scrolling down the screen. Compare that to 4 or 5 where you had 50+ hours worth of content from minigames entirely and they were all much more in depth – for example the taxi driving one in 5 which was super fucking fun and silly or the always enjoyable running-a-hostess-club stuff where you can spend hours just deciding on outfits for your girls and each girl having a sub-story. Yakuza 5 was packed full of stuff to do, all of it long lasting and with real depth and even each character having their own entire roster of character-specific games and stories. Yakuza 6 is just barely anything and what IS there is very fucking lazy.

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They also do some really awkward shit by trying to shove some of the minigames into the main story to introduce them to you, which results in it just feeling fucking stupid and damaging the actual quality of the main plot. The baseball being thrown in at least has very light relevance (though they don’t even let you fucking play at the time at all), but the clan battle thing is just embarrassing. In one of the very first scenes of the game you run into members of JUSTIS, it’s an actual main story scene and makes you wonder who these losers are. Turns out they’re nobody and had no place in the main plot at all and are just side story people. Why are they in the main fucking story for just that moment? It’s like if Yakuza 0 had that horny naked guy who was always masturbating in public as a main story character for 30 seconds just to let you know he exists. It also just GOES AGAINST THE ENTIRE IDEA THAT KIRYU IS A “CIVILIAN” when he now leads a pseudo-Yakuza family within the canon because they make sure you take on the first guy in the main plot for absolutely no reason while doing more important shit.

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Then again the entirety of the story characters in this gang thing are real world New Japan Wrestling pro wrestlers…so I guess they figured they spent the money to get them so they better shove them in and make sure the player knows that the Rainmaker is here. They even just use their real names because why fucking bother actually giving a shit about the narrative. May as well have just called Hirose “Beat”, Someya “Oguri Shun”, and literally the rest of the cast by their real names too given all of them with the exception of Kiryu, Majima, and Haruka (maybe a couple more, but not many in 6) are based on real captured faces.

Another disappointing thing is the scope. Yakuza 5 set the bar so much higher and this didn’t even ATTEMPT to go anywhere NEAR what that did. 5 had a huge number of locales that you got to explore, typically a special location for each of the 5 cast members who would be there for a big chunk of their story before they ended up inevitably in Kamurocho. Each one also had their own mini-game(s) with much more depth. You basically had by the end like 7 locations and most of them with dramatically different feeling to them from a snowy mountain village to a bustling city in southern Japan where you have dance battles as Haruka. Not to mention you played at 5 different characters all with DRAMATICALLY different combat mechanics and feeling – with things like Taiga being able to swing motorcycles around or this guy who always has a baseball bat equippable (both of those things being ruined by the retarded shit in 0 making it so everyone can do them!) to literal rhythm game dance battles in the street.

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Yakuza 6 gives you only 2 locations, Onomichi and Kamurocho and 1 character (Kiryu). I really like Onomichi – it’s gorgeous and a really nicely designed small ocean-side town. Just walking around it feels good and I even spent a good bit of time in first person just strolling around enjoying the place and it’s quaint beauty hoping it’s not too far off from reality. Kamurocho is also pretty interesting this time around due to how much has changed since our last time being here 3 years ago – with the once gang-ridden red light city practically being gentrified. Even Little Asia has transformed from shitty alleyways to a full on China Town, though that’s due to story reasons. Not that any of that makes sense as the player and Kiryu have seen Kamurocho evolve over the course of 10 years yet it never changed that much…and suddenly after just 3 years it’s become COMPLETELY remodeled and every single business that was there all that time is suddenly gone and there are zero familiar faces.

What really is upsetting beyond that though is you don’t ACTUALLY get Kamurocho, you get “most of” Kamurocho. For some inexplicable reason that never is even brought up by a random side story or the main plot, the entirety of the northernmost area (the area in and just NEAR Kamurocho Hills) is blocked off the entire game – and more importantly all of the Champion district (all the bars) has the same situation the whole game. I kept waiting for this area to open up and for the underground gambling hall and ‘paradise’ in the sewers to open up again…and they never did. In fact there’s just no gambling at all, as you may have noticed earlier. If they gave some awful attempt at explaining why, I’d be less angry about it, but they don’t bother it’s just blocked off or simply (in the case of the sewer paradise) doesn’t exist at all. They simply didn’t finish the areas and they thought if they said nothing then nobody would even notice.

Basically everything about this game aside the engine itself is several steps backwards. We’ve got a miniature main story in two miniature locations, the side stories barely exist and are almost entirely devoid of actual creativity or meat to them at all, the entire cast is nobodies who only exist in this game’s bubble (albeit I did love the Hirose family), and even minigames pretty much don’t exist.

I understand a lot of the issues with the setting limitations and the minigames comes from this being a fully new engine, I just don’t think that’s a good enough explanation. Spend more time on the fucking game if you need more time to finish the game, don’t just throw together something quick for the GRAND FUCKING FINALE of a series that started all the way back in 2006. Even if they absolutely could not spend more time on it, writing and development are not being done by the same people. Why is every bit of this game so unfinished and unpolished?

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The new engine is the only positive and it is fucking fantastic and in that sense this game is a massive step forward at least. The open world feeling has been updated dramatically and even something as simple as being able to knock over all the bicycles lined up on the sidewalks is so good to finally be able to do, it’s fun and feels so right. The combat also really got a lot out of great changes from it – not only is it super responsive and as deep as it always has been, it now is seamlessly in the game without having to cut into a fight and out of a fight making it feel so much more fluid. Even just navigating around feels better than ever and the visuals are fucking great; as usual the faces are unbelievable and it’s still as upsetting as ever that hilariously bad face capture like LA Noir got such attention when Yakuza has had faces perfectly modeled even in titles before that, and now it’s fucking wild. It’s easy to forget Beat Takeshi isn’t just here acting in a movie.

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I also really enjoyed the changes to the food/eating system and the level-up system. The Troublr stuff was a totally acceptable addition too, if only it wasn’t an incredibly poor replacement for side stories which is absolutely what it is. Why write story for side missions when you can just make it an 8 word text message leading you to a fight?

The complete disappearance of the entire cast from the past 5 games also really makes it suffer both as another Yakuza game and especially as the grand finale. How do you make a conclusion to a now 6/7 game long story and not include anyone else from any of them and just make a new cast on the fly that are the only people you ever see or that matter at all? It was a terrible decision to make almost all of the prior cast members that were lucky enough to appear at all be simple cameos.

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I wanted the series – or at least Kazuma Kiryu’s story in it – to be concluded with an insane over the top crazy fucking ride with all the boys getting back together for one final massive showdown with some baddies in the traditional on-top-of-Millenium-Tower battle that the series has made a staple of since the very first game. What you get instead is never seeing any familiar faces and a boss fight in some unnamed meaningless dock surrounded by cargo containers like a really lazy fighting game location. It’s not even on the goddamn thing they reveal as the big secret which has plenty of room for it and would have been pretty cool, hell, it ISN’T EVEN IN KAMUROCHO.

Then you have the theme of fatherhood which is really well done while also being incredibly barefaced in it’s delivery, but it might be the biggest reason everyone else was left out of the story. This has to be the same writing team as Yakuza 0 because that’s the only other time the series has had such a problem with inundating the entire story with an overly in-your-face theme – in that case MUH BROTHER. It wasn’t NEARLY as bad but it certainly was leaning heavily that direction, and now they went full retard with it.

Think about it, almost the ENTIRE FUCKING CAST – old and new – is either a father, a son, or a mother and if they aren’t they only appear as a cameo for a short tiny scene at most. Obviously everyone is a son or daughter in life in general, but I mean within the narrative and having real story importance.

The following images have every major character, a few supporting characters, even some fucking basically background characters, and a few side-story characters. The key is D(ad), M(om), X (ain’t even in the game so it doesn’t matter but neither), S(on), Dau(ghter), N(ot) S(ure), NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING.

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Yakuza 6: Song of Dads

Kiryu and Haruka. Haruka and her son. Date and his daughter. Even Akiyama appears only rarely for a little while each time and even with him he really helped raise Haruka through 5 and so his short appearances fit into that concept as well. The ENTIRE Hirose family looks up to Hirose as their dad, Hirose himself has someone he looks up to as a dad because he lost his dad, one of the members of the family is also a dad. Two of the members of the family lost their real dads which we learn about because they were sons of those dads and now have double the dad amount than the rest. Someya is a dad.

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The main antagonist wants to take the name of his dad (who has the name of a guy he looked up to as a dad). The other main antagonist wants to take power from a family he’s worked for his whole life (no he didn’t, he was never in the games at all) so basically from his dad. The early on “main antagonist” is a dad and his son hates him and this is the son’s main reason for being the antagonist. His son probably is also a dad because his entire thing is appearing like a normal businessman and most of those are dads. The bar mama in the story is a mom. Big Lo is a dad and his son died so he makes the entire story happen. Big Lo’s other son hates him (his other son is also a dad).

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Is this fucking”Dream Daddy”? Am I supposed to pick which of the not-even-Yakuza-characters that take up 99% of this game’s story I’d like to take the dick of? Is that what Yakuza 6 is?

Even SUPPORTING CAST and SUB-STORY characters are all “I AM SHOWING YOU THE THEME, DO YOU REMEMBER THE THEME? IT’S ABOUT PARENTHOOD OR BEING A CHILD WHO IS TRYING TOO HARD TO BE LIKE THEIR FATHER”. Seriously, every single one. No more silly shit like a guy trying to steal panties and it playing some fucking out of place beautiful latin chanting to him slipping off a wire with panties on his head. No, we need to make this about DADS so the player understands what this game is about.

Literally the sub stories are all that shit too, nothing is not the theme constantly. Help me fish because my DAD got killed by a shark. Help me rekindle my relationship with my little boy I’m his DAD but I’m a cuck and have let his MOM abuse me and destroy our relationship. My MOM won’t let me have Haruka goods because her DAD is a Yakuza, can you get me something?

And why would the playable cop from 4 not be here? His entire story – and a big part of 4’s overall story – was about his duty to Little Asia and how it was his territory and he gave so much of a shit about it that he even protected it from corrupt cops (while being one himself in his own way). Yet he’s nowhere to be seen in a game that is almost entirely about the place.

More importantly WHY ARE THE ONLY THINGS THEY REFERENCE OR HAVE DIRECTLY, BE THEY PEOPLE OR IDEAS, ALL FROM FUCKING YAKUZA 0? It’s like the staff forgot there are 5 other games that are all more relevant to 6…I’m beginning to think they really DID because I suspect 0 and 6 were written by the same people – people who didn’t work on the others. Pocket Circuit comes up as well as the guy who ran it who ONLY EXISTS IN 0 as well as the pocket circuit shit only being in 0 (and now kiwami), people they made up for the story in 0 come up mostly related to the Tojo clan and Omi alliance even though they never existed in any other game.

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Hell, FUCKING MANA SAKURA IS SOMEHOW IN PORN ADS IN THIS GAME WHEN SHE’S ALSO IN 0, A GAME THAT TAKES PLACE BEFORE SHE WAS ACTUALLY BORN, but it was more important to them to include her again in a poster INSTEAD OF THE 90 ACTUAL CAST MEMBERS IN ANY WAY AT ALL OR SIDE STORIES REFERENCED OR ANYTHING.

It’s like they needed to throw anyone out that had no father-son/daughter bond with anyone which meant having to basically create an entirely new cast and never bringing up anyone from the old one.

They even randomly arrest anyone we’d be familiar with, and they make up a character who “totally was always here all along absolutely always here” in the Tojo clan since the 2nd chairman who is somehow the main antagonist even though he’s a non-character in this game even and never existed before it. The TWO FINAL BOSSES OF THE GAME are not only made up nobodies who never were in OR mentioned in the entire history of the franchise, but also people who pretty much never existed IN THIS GAME EITHER and they’re the big grand fucking battle at the end. It’s worse when you consider they actually had a pretty good antagonist character in their group who proves multiple times by the end to be a “true” Yakuza and live by the code properly unlike the two he’s working under, and he deserved and needed to be the final fight – instead you fight him before them with no real fanfare at all and throughout the game he’s sort of a non-entity.

It doesn’t help that the story is extremely short compared to the past games – my end-game results telling me I played for under 38 hours having almost done 100% of what there is to do – basically being the length of 1. While 5 was pretty much 5 full games built into one with each character having a full blown story of their own before all coming together to handle the main plot itself and lasting about 150 hours easily.

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And back to that first part about wanting an “over the top wild ride” to complete it…this just doesn’t deliver that either. This might be the most tame and run-of-the-mill story they could manage, nothing about this game’s story – or even side content – matches that of the previous games. Where once you were beating a bear to death with your fists, dodging javelin missiles, doing fucking Initial D drift races on the freeway in your taxi, or doing the most amazing bro-fist attack with Daigo on the roof of Millenium Tower as one of the best moments in a game ever…here you just kind of sometimes see Kiryu punching someone sort of hard in a cutscene. Even when he meets the man who fucked his little girl into a pregnancy he just punches him lightly enough that he busts a sliding glass door – and in Japan those aren’t exactly 2-3 pane glass, they’re the thinnest shit possible that if you close them too hard will shatter.

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Nothing about this game is over the top at all. Even that reveal of Onomichi’s secret was so disappointing because of that exact same reason. It was too lamely realistic and believable of a “huge secret that can never be revealed” – while in Yakuza you’ve come to expect something like it being something far more unbelievable. Once the alarms started blaring I was thinking it had to be something like a nuke or a nuclear submarine…but no. While it’s kind of cool visually and makes sense politically, it’s so tame compared to the last 5 games.

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Gone too are the QTEs that were proof the Yakuza games could make anything fucking cool – even pushing buttons with timing which typically is a terrible addition to a game. Yet during boss fights they were amazing and added so much that you simply couldn’t get across by automating an event to happen or just letting the fight play out, like they do in this game, just as a boring normal fight even for the main story bosses which also end up pathetically easy.

Even the side stories like the baseball play out entirely normally instead of doing mega home runs with heat mode or a QTE or something – it’s just a genuine baseball simulation with nothing unrealistic about it. The story is no different. Every character is so boringly “real”, including Kiryu himself which makes no sense for his character and what we know the Dragon of Dojima to be. Even the heat attacks in this game are incredibly tame compared to usual aside the knife/sword and gun ones which are way more genuinely violent but still not as crazy as usual – not to mention because of muh realism you can’t do them often anyway now. They even got rid of the most classic of classics, stomping a dude’s face after tossing him to the ground.

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I just don’t get it. Did they blow all their budget on Oguri, Takeshi, Miyasako, Anri Okita, and the fucking 300000 pro-wrestlers they “ABSOLUTELY NEEDED” to be in the game? I mean the first three of them are pretty huge names and Oguri and Miyasako are both still incredibly active and popular. Beat Takeshi doesn’t do much these days but as far as fame goes he’s got a lot of it still even globally. Is that the reason this came out how it did – because they wanted faces even more famous than usual? Is it because fucking shit Kiwami is costing so much because they’re RANDOMLY ADDING CELEBRITIES and porn stars there too? Was it 0 because they wanted to hire one of the most known Japanese actors globally to kill off in the same game because he never existed in 1?

The Dragon of Dojima deserved such a better send-off, and I’m truly sad that this is what he got instead. The game itself is good but I can’t even say that much due to the huge lack of any content. This is a good “aside” to the Yakuza franchise, like as a side story about the Hirose family this is really pretty great…but it’s not an aside or a spinoff, it’s the grand finale after 6 prior games (if you include 0) – it’s what’s been building up for over a decade and it ends up being something that has almost nothing to do with anything you care about as a Yakuza fan.

The most basic trappings of the franchise are even missing and what we get is so bland and stupid. There’s no crazy final boss fight on top of Millenium Tower – instead you just fight a little while inside at one point and then later on you have the final fight which IS NOT EVEN IN KAMUROCHO. There’s no underground casino, no hobo casino, no fighting arena, no underground paradise at all – the sewers are like 5 feet of nothing aside a guy who sells shitty items for too much and a couple story beats of Akiyama being a disgusting sewer rat because he’s too stupid to just go out of the city, half the town is blocked off, nobody we know is here. There’s no lengthy sub stories. There are no weapons you can carry, make, or upgrade. There are very few heat actions. There is no complex convoluted connection into the rest of the story from the whole franchise and cast that puts even Metal Gear to shame usually.

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Maybe most importantly, the ending manages to be a massive disappointment as well. They couldn’t even manage to pull the trigger and do what needed to be done.

They LITERALLY do pull a trigger as Kiryu gets shot 3 fucking times with two of those times being in the chest, but they don’t in terms of actually killing him. The reveal that Kiryu is fine just made me so fucking upset to see – I was already getting annoyed enough by Akiyama’s part just prior implying how Kiryu might still be alive…and then they just show you, yeah, he’s fucking fine. They couldn’t even let the dragon rest in a game made solely for the purpose of finishing his life for the sake of the future.

The only truly sad part about this ending is that what Kiryu stood for has truly died, even if he didn’t. Kiryu always stood for integrity and his own code, but at the end he tosses it all aside for no real reason and goes entirely against who he has been the last 6 games by making a deal with an incredibly corrupt politician for a big sum of money so he can fuck off and party the rest of his life without having the orphanage or Haruka to have as his responsibility. You can argue “why” he took that deal, but he still took the deal which is maybe the most unbelievable thing they could ever make him do and shits all over the man he’s always been in a terrible way. It also has no relevance to anything, they don’t tell you who this guy is and he’s not even someone who ever existed before – so unless he’s a tie-in to the next ‘series’ in Yakuza then it’s even stupider. Kiryu submitted to a nobody for wads of cash and threw away his honor, his child, and his grandchild for it. Bravo.

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Yakuza truly ended at Yakuza 5. This is a bonus game that shouldn’t have been made at all – this should have been the first game with the new protagonist, instead it just destroys the actually amazingly good conclusion to the full story of Kiryu that 5 had at the end which fully concluded everyone’s stories and left you with a really emotional cliffhanger about whether Kiryu was going to die or not. This just sort of drags the legacy out of it’s grave for no reason, half asses it, then quits halfway through the very short length that the game manages to give you about characters that you don’t even know.

This should have been a story about the Hirose family where you play as one of them and learn this story that way – even throw in Haruka (without baby) if you want to at least connect it to the main story. That would have been so much fucking better and probably given them more time to add real side content and flesh out the great characters of the Hirose group. The moment they decided to force in Haruka, a fucking baby that makes no sense to exist at all just for drama, and Kiryu who seemingly has no fucking purpose in his own game is when the game was doomed to be nothing but a disappointment. The only really good thing about this game aside the few I mentioned already would be the final letter Kiryu writes and the reveal in it, which to me felt like one of the only things done for people who have played the whole series proper because it isn’t to who others might think it is – but it’s to who I was hoping it would be even if they were practically not in the game. When he magically doesn’t die and disappears for money it ruins it, but either way I was glad to see a nod to something that the game and players seemed to have forgotten; the most important familial bond in the series aside Haruka and Kiryu.

I’d love to really keep to “this is a very good side story” but even that just isn’t correct. There’s basically no minigames, there are practically no sub stories, and while the combat is a huge upgrade the lack of over-the-top stuff within it also damages things there some. The PLOT is a good side story…IF you remove Haruka, her baby existing at all, and Kiryu beyond maybe a cameo. Honestly the most touching, sad, and by far the best written part of the game was the story about Hirose’s youth and path to who he is now which just furthers my belief that this should have been a game that had no relation to Kiryu at all and was just a story in the Yakuza universe.

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As the big finale for Kiryu it completely fucks up his legacy while largely ignoring it the whole time anyway. How much worse could you end an epic than by making the finale’s main problem be the protagonist BEING IN IT? All they had to do was keep Kiryu out of it, let his story end with 5, and this would have had the potential to be an amazing launch into a new era of Yakuza.

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