Posted on 04 Sep 2019 by L Coulsen

Yakuza Kiwami 2

The Defence

Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fighting
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 09 May 2019

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 3470 @3.2 GHz
AMD Ryzen 3 1200 @3.1 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB
AMD HD 7870 2GB
HDD: 42 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 6700 @3.4 GHz
AMD Ryzen 7 1700 @3.7 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB
AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 8GB
RAM: 16 GB
HDD: 42 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

It’s time to return to the world of Yakuza. A world in which every living person suffers from retrograde amnesia because they have been, repeatedly, punched in the face by the series’ protagonist. Well, the people of Kamurocho at least. I mean, that’s the only way to explain why people still keep trying to fight him. If you ask me, at least. But enough of that, we have more important concerns. Is it any good?

The Trial

Yes, yes it is. In fact, this is the best Yakuza has ever been. It looks genuinely stunning, even before making the jump to the PC, plays reet good, and has a strong story that follows on directly from the game before it. Picking up a year later, Kiryu has now adopted Haruka and the two are living quietly away from the corruption of Kamurocho. A peace that doesn’t last, as they are attacked whilst visiting the graves of their fallen friends and family. A rival family sends a group of flunkies, and the fifth chairman of the Tojo clan is killed in the crossfire. Forcing Kiryu to return and punch more people into amnesia.

Speaking of punching people, let’s dig into the game’s meat and two veg. Streamlining, significantly, after the janky but extremely fun Yakuza 0, and the disappointingly clunky, but still enjoyable Yakuza Kiwami. Kiwami 2 drops the multiple fighting style combat system in favour of one ‘super’ style that combines elements of all four that came before it. Streamlining done right, it cuts out all the fluff, whilst retaining a surprisingly deep set of abilities. Most of which are ultimately optional, but easy and rewarding enough to use that you’ll run through all of them more than once just for the hell of it.

Some of the Heat moves are especially fun this time around. With the return of extreme Heat making most fights, even against three tigers and a bear (seriously) all at the same time, an absolute slaughter. Granted, fights that crazy don’t happen in the main story, rather occurring in the coliseum, but just knowing they exist…anyway, Heat moves. My favourites are some of the duo moves, also typically demonstrated in the coliseum. Taking out two enemies at once, by throwing them against each other and then doing a flying knee to their face, you on one side and Majima (or whoever, but Majima) from the other. Poetry in motion. Jamming a massive pole up someone’s bunghole is another stand out, heh.


The largest difference is in the way throws work. Rather than grabbing your next amnesia victim and just tossing him aside, pretty much every throw now involves spinning him around a few times first. And if he smacks into one of his buddies in the process, they take damage and typically end up on the floor. Though if you happen to slam him into a lamppost too, he’ll be knocked loose early. But he’ll also have just eaten a lamppost so, pros and cons. There’s even a throw specifically reserved for execution mid-combo, where you’ll grab them by the neck and dick, then spin them around a bit. That one doesn’t throw them quite as far, but you’re grabbing them by the dick.

Speaking of throw distance, one of the fringe benefits of higher/unlocked framerates is that the game’s ragdoll physics have been supercharged. The above mentioned throw, final blow or even a gentle breeze will now launch people into the stratosphere. Most of the time it will just send them skidding across the width of a street, but sometimes it’s more dramatic, especially if they hit something else before coming to halt. It’s a bug related to frame timing when running at anything higher than 30fps and SEGA have said they’ll fix it, but honestly, it’s hilarious. So I hope they don’t. It adds a nice sense of wait to battles, really making it feel like Kiryu truly has beaten his enemy into a coma.

Aside from this, there are a number of skills that can be unlocked throughout the story. Some tied to specific events, others just unlocked by earning enough EXP. Most of them make a return from the earlier games, but some of them are unique as well. There’s actually quite a lot to unlock, not just new ways to beat people into space. Attack power, Defence and Heat can also be upgraded. To such an extent that even the series uber boss, Amon, can be taken down with ease on anything other than Dragon difficulty. Fighting the final boss of the game, on Hard, was ludicrous, with single punches taking off massive chunks of his health bars, and full combos stripping him of several in a matter of seconds, nevermind Heat moves.


Now, as mentioned above, the story is compelling, but like any Yakuza game, it’s also very, very much by the book. Every single one of them, no exceptions, can be called formulaic, but it’s a good formula, it works, and the characters are what really make it work. Majima has some of the best moments, of course (more on that in a moment) but newcomer Kaoru gets ample time to win over not just us, but Kiryu as well. It’s a shame she never really turns up in the franchise again, because as obvious as it is, the relationship she builds with Kiryu is really well done and never feels forced.

One thing that does stand out as a ‘bad’ thing, though only in the most nit-picky of ways, is that there are all of about three Japanese people in the entire game. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but seriously, minor spoiler, but pretty much every single new character turns out to be Korean. With the plot revolving around the resurgence of a Korean mafia, that’s (again) not really surprising. But after learning just how many ‘Japanese’ people have actually been Korean all along, it’s a continued source of bemusement for me. By the end, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we had a revelation that Kiryu is actually Italian, or something.

Anyway, if you played Yakuza 2 back at its original release, there’s not much changed in the main game, but for returning players, and newcomers alike, we have a very special bonus. Three side chapters, unlocked as the story progresses, in which we play as Majima. Set shortly before the events of the main game, they don’t add a huge amount to the story, just a little bit of extra context. But they do add a great deal of extra weight to Majima’s character. Tying up some lose ends from 0 and, I’m not gonna’ lie, making me genuinely tear up. They’re short, offering less than two hours of play time in total, unless you want to fight every single enemy you can find, but they are well worth your time if you care even remotely about the Yakuza narrative. And Majima in particular. There are also a few bonus items you can unlock in the main game, if you send enough money to Kiryu through the ATM, because that’s how money works.

I said 'what what' in

So yes, as said above, this is a fantastic game. Easily the best in the entire franchise, both narratively and gameplay. Hell, it’s one of the finest narrative beat-em-ups I’ve ever played. There have been other games that have done each of the aspects on offer better, but few that have done so well with all of them at once. Even the visual presentation can stand toe to toe with some of the PC heavyweights. It doesn’t have quite as many bells and whistles as games built from the ground up, but a very precise art design and extremely talented development team have made an absolutely gorgeous game. Bloom, in particular, has been implemented exceedingly well. Never enough to be distracting, it actually works to enhance the feel of the gaudy lights of Japan’s criminal underbelly, visually representing the flashy, gaudy nature of such a needlessly lavish lifestyle.

Sound design is equally strong, with some great music, superb vocal performances and fighting sound effects that are just campy enough to feel good. Some of the deep ‘thrrm’ type sounds when powerful Heat actions slam someone down to the ground…mm mm mm, never gets old Never not satisfying. And Majima, oh Majima, when he headbutts that control panel to make it work (just go with it) with the echoing ‘thunk’ is just supremely satisfying to hear. I don’t know exactly why, but it is.

The Verdict

In closing, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a great game. It’s just fun to play, with enough wacky side stories and completely sincere drama to satisfy anyone. Without any of the tonal whiplash you should get from something that’s as all over the place as this is. Oh, and yes, did I mention, the Cabaret club mini-game is back? Because it is. Bigger, better and featuring more girls than ever before. That seriously needs to be spun out into its own game. You wouldn’t even need to add anything, just take everything it already has, even without the story, and just release it as a $5 mobile game. I’d play the shit out of that. Great game, in a great game. ‘Nuff said.

Case Review

  • Cabaret Club: I could genuinely play this all day. I only wish the sessions lasted longer.

  • Combat: Beating people’s entire history directly out of their brains never gets old.

  •  Majima: He is Baejima.

  • Length: Main story is a good 12 hours even if you’re sprinting through it, so 100% can be a bit daunting for those who care.

  • Difficulty: Boost your stats enough and combat becomes stupid easy. I quite like that, but some might be disappointed.

5 Score: 5/5
Already a great game, the improvements and addition of extra Majima scenes make this a true classic.


  • Controls: Fully remappable controller and keyboard.
  • Graphics: Resolution, monitor select, refresh rate select, VSync, field of view slider, texture quality, anisotropic filtering, shadow quality, geometry quality, realtime reflections toggle, motion blur toggle, SSAO toggle, render scale slider, and anti-aliasing selection.
  • Sound: Music, effects, dialogue, and cinematics volume sliders, speaker type selection, and in-game ringtone selection.


5 Score: 5/5

Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a remake of the original Yakuza 2 (Kiwami just means “extreme”) and lives up to that game’s reputation while smoothing out the original wrinkles with smoother combat transitions, more Majima, and graphical quality that won’t make you want to barf thanks to the excellent Dragon Engine providing a solid 60FPS and clean visuals that, while nothing truly special, do look great. As usual, the Dragon Of Dojima, Kiryu Kazama is the main protagonist and you’ll rampage through Kamurocho after a period of time seemingly long enough for the brain damage you dealt out to every thug in the last game to have cleared their memory of just how dangerous Kiryu is.

The cabaret mini game makes a comeback and is just as excellent as before. It’s also joined by a lite RTS where you fight off attacks on Majima’s construction company, usually by doing something utterly stupid like summoning multiple Majimas to utterly destroy the hordes of thugs trying to shut him down. There’s also the usual amount of mini games like Mahjong, and various various casino games. It’s not all mini games and frolicking in the back alleys caving in the skulls of street punks though; the main story weaves the usual tale of betrayal, satisfying honour, a contest between superhuman martial artists, and a badass ending which we won’t spoil.

Those who like to 100% complete their games may find it a bit overwhelming without a guide, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is crazy huge and just completing the main story will take 10-12 hours and you can probably double that for the side content even if you use a guide. If you’re anything like me, you might get lost in all the side content and forget what was happening in the main story too. Though that might sound like a complaint – we can’t fault the actual game or developers for it, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is excellent from top to bottom and we can’t wait for more adventures in Kamurocho to make their way to PC.

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