Posted on 05 Jul 2021 by L Coulsen

Yakuza 4 Remastered

The Defence

Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Publisher: SEGA
Genre: Action, Adventure, Role Playing
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: No data.

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 3470
AMD FX 6300
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTS 450 1GB
AMD Radeon HD 6670 1GB
HDD: 35 GB
DirectX: 10
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 3770
AMD FX 8350
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB
HDD: 35 GB
DirectX: 10
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

The second of the PlayStation 3 trilogy, Yakuza 4 is the first game that really defined what the series would come to be known for. Mostly, at least. Building on everything that came before it and aiming to iron out all the kinks, it was a real push for something larger than the sum of its parts. So let’s dive in and see how well it did, now, shall we?

The Trial

Going into this, I was extremely skeptical. Given that it used the same, if tweaked, engine from the previous entry, there was a lot of trepidation regarding the core gameplay. But right out of the gate, those fears were dashed and utterly, glowing red Extreme Heat pounded into oblivion. Not only was the mind numbingly tedious block and chip combat completely gone, the flow of fights was a hell of a lot faster just in general.

Starting out with new character Akiyama, a chap who has legs made of cold iron rubber bands, it immediately sets out to show you just how much more refined everything is. His kick combo is about fifteen billion hits long, and takes about three ninths of a second. Gross exaggeration, of course, but it gets the point across. Other characters (there are four) having varying animation speeds, but even the slowest of them is still moving at a fairly brisk pace. Yakuza 3 didn’t even feel all that slow, at the time. But playing the sequel, it’s like night and day, and a very welcome change.

What is less welcome is the huge switch up in how the game progresses. Despite this, firmly, still being a part of the core Kiryu series, our boy Dojima Ryu doesn’t turn up until the very end. With three entirely new characters brought in before him. Each of them having pretty lengthy story arcs of their own. Even skipping through all of the side content, you’re still looking at a good 10-15 hours before the supposed protagonist is even seen, let alone playable. If you take the time to invest in each of their arcs, that number increases quite significantly.

I'll Just Finish This.

Of course, your mileage will vary, but thankfully, most of the new additions are engaging in their own right. Akiyama is a bit…Yakuza character-y, if that makes sense, and Saejima is a pretty close (personal) second only to Majima in terms of awesomeness. Tanimura…urgh. I hate the character, I hate his fighting style and I absolutely fucking despise the abhorrent way his original actor was treated. In short, he was accused of using drugs, and despite being categorically proven innocent, he was still forced into early retirement. That’s just not cricket!

The ‘worst’ part about the new characters is that they all feel a bit disjointed at first. With each of them having their own things to deal with, it takes until Kiryu’s arc for everything to really start coming together. Though it does, ultimately, all gel together quite nicely, it can be a bit bewildering for a large chunk of your play time. Something which undoubtedly contributed to my distaste for Tanimura (the third protagonist) even more. Though, on the plus side, there’s enough content here that it really does feel like four full games rolled into one. So you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. Now there’s a thought, episodic, Telltale-esque Yakuza anyone? I’d play that just out of sheer curiosity.

Anyhoo. The next, and probably largest (and first, really) thing one will notice is just how much better this game looks. Despite coming hot on the heels of its predecessor, the sheer quality of the visual leap is genuinely staggering. Looking damn fine not only in remaster, but also its original console release. A bit long in the tooth today, perhaps, but still fully capable of standing up as reasonably solid compared to some of the most recent games on the market. It’s amazing what you can do with some good lighting and shaders. It cannot be understated just how good the game looks.

And Stay Down!

Sure, up close and in detail, you can easily see all of the tricks and shortcuts the team took to give the impression of being more detailed than it actually is. But dayum, in motion, even standing still, it still looks extremely nice. For the most part, at least. Some of the daytime sections are a bit flat, because of the greatly reduced number of light sources. But all in all, this is a genuinely superb looking game. A real testament to just how much a talented team of artists can squeeze out of the constraints placed upon them.

As for all the rest…there’s a bit less Majima, but also a bit more, in some ways. The individual story arcs, and the meta-narrative, are all up to the usual standards, and this is one of the geographically largest games in the franchise. For the first time, you can get down the stairs on Showa street! The South edge of Kamurocho. It leads you into a small, underground shopping area and a massive car park. As well as an impressive amount of extra ground across the rooftops.

On top of that, there are a number of new, unique, environments throughout the game, too. Including the Prison Saejima spends a good chunk of his time in, which can eat a whole bag of hairy, soggy dicks. Everyone and their bloody uncle is obsessed with grappling during this section, something which rears its ugly head a number of times throughout the game from then on. It slows combat back down to a crawl as you’re spamming a button to break free for a few seconds, only to be grabbed by someone else immediately afterwards. Rinse and repeat as much as five times in a row.

There’s always something, eh? I mean, there are even skills to unlock which allow you to break out of holds quicker, which speaks volumes. Did I mention being grabbed drains your Heat, by the way? Because that happens too. I mean, it’s nowhere near as bad as the block and chip of Yakuza 3, and it’s only really a big deal during Saejima’s prison break. But it’s prevalent enough to be a nuisance. And it’s just a pain in the ass during the Coliseum. But that’s optional, extra challenge stuff, so it’s pretty forgivable overall.

The Verdict

In closing, Yakuza 4 is undeniably the first of the modern Yakuza games. Arguably the first ‘real’ game, if you follow. It’s the point in the series where the team knew exactly what they wanted to do with the franchise, and everything from this point on builds on this foundation. Even to the most recent, remade games on the Dragon Engine. There have yet to be any real overhauls of the core experience, and that’s all fine by us. Because it’s a winning formula, it works, and it’s given us some of the best games of the last decade.

Case Review

  • Everything: This is the exact point when Yakuza became what it is, in all its glory.

  • Majima: I love Baejima. Nuff’ said.

  • Visuals: Honestly still a great looking game even before the remaster treatment.

  • Characters: With four protags, three before Kiryu, it asks a lot of people to invest in.

  • Size: Both physically and narratively, this is a very large game, and it depends on each individual whether that’s good or bad.

  • The Prison Break: Seriously, screw the grappling guys.

4.5 Score: 4.5/5
The day Yakuza came home.


  • Controls: Real Yakuza use a gamepad...but a mouse and keyboard is perfectly functional. A controller is definitely the better option, but both offer customisability to get things set up just the way you want them. Having multiple characters complicates things slightly, but not in any meaningful way.
  • Game Options: Despite being noticeably more advanced than the game before, it runs just as well and requires the exact same out of your rig. Still lacking in options in any meaningful way, it nevertheless has enough to allow tweaking for maximum efficiency.

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