Reviews

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

Yakuza 6 is the seventh title (confusing I know but there was 0 in there at some point) in the series brought to you by SEGA. You once again, or in my case for the 1st time, take control of Kazuma Kiryu. He is one bad ass Yakuza, who has the emotional range of a large slab of granite but is just as tough as one.

This is an action adventure game set in a ‘semi’ open world environment with a very arcade based button bash type combat style. This is the 1st game in the series that I have played myself so I can’t speak for how it compares against the other titles but apparently it is very similiar. Now if you are worried about not being able to follow the story having not played the other games, then fear not. SEGA have added a ‘memories’ section in the main menu that allows you to read through the plot and stories of the previous games to catch you up on Kazumas previous adventures. This is a nice little function but I found by the time I’d read through the 3rd game I started to skim read and lost interest. However, it helps you understand what your character has been through and who his friends and foes are as many of them crop up during the game.

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Kiryu has now spent several years in prison following all his noble but illegal activities in the previous titles and upon his release he discovers his ward, Haruka, is in a coma after being hit by a car under suspicious circumstances. She also had a kid, Haruto, who is at risk of being taken by social services. Kiryu must fight for and maintain custody of Haruto, while investigating the strange mysteries surrounding Haruka’s accident. Kiryu is now forced to return to Kamurocho once again, and after he begins his investigation, the clues lead him to Onomichi, a seemingly peaceful town that is more than it seems.

Well………First of all let me start with this and say I did not enjoy this game that much. However, I have got to be honest and say this ultimately isn’t my style of game so please take my words with a pinch of salt. I’m sure some of you will be fans of the Yakuza games and will think I’m talking rubbish. There are lots of things about this game that really annoyed me as a gamer, but there are also parts that I really enjoyed. So here are my thoughts…

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My first and main gripe with this game is the endless amount of movie sequences and never ending chatting. There are so many cut sequences that you very rarely pick up the controller to do anything. The 1st example of this occurs as soon as you start the game. For the first 40 minutes or so you just watch the story unfold and you don’t even do anything apart from have one fight that lasts about a minute. After this I thought the game would open up so and I would be able to free roam around and get a feel for the game. I thought wrong. It’s the same throughout the rest of the game. You have a 20-30 minute cut sequence followed by a little scuffle and then you go straight into yet another 20-30 minute cut sequence. For me this starts to make the game feel very linear and very stop-start. This game is supposed to be described as open world, and it doesn’t feel like that at all. Don’t get me wrong there are side missions that are quite fun, but they are very repetitive and there are not many of them to do hence why I said ‘semi’ open world.

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The fighting style is fun, very much punch, kick, stomp style combat but your ability to pick up inanimate objects and smash people in the face with them is loads of fun. I never thought picking up a bicycle or a traffic cone and bashing 4 guys over the head would be so amusing and fun. The way in which you can level up Kiryu’s abilities is also quite quirky and interesting as well. Other than just gaining EXP by completing missons, you can also join a gym and work out, play arcade games, darts and even hit some baseballs in batting cages. You can also go to various types of restaurants and eat food in order to restore health and also gain EXP. I always found it amusing to have a massive fight and then try to find the nearest restaurant so I could restore Kiryus health.

There is a great bit of nostalgia within the game as well. In the city of Kamurocho there is a SEGA Club arcade and you can play retro sega titles such as Space Harrier, Super Hang On and Out Run. I think I lost a good hour playing Out Run, but again you also earn EXP from it so it’s all good. You can also gamble and play Mahjong, which can boost your money and your EXP. This took me right back and reminded me of playing Red Dead Redemption, I used to lose hours just playing poker so I like how they have added Mahjong as the Japanese equivalent.

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One aspect of this game that I found hysterical at times was the difference between the dialogue being spoken and the expressions of the characters. Kiryu would say something really emotive, and at times sincere or affectionate but his facial expression would just stay rigidly stoic. Even the music doesn’t really fit with what you are viewing. The Soundtrack to this game is really over the top in my opinion as well. The music is straight out of the 80’s for me , if its not sounding like some techno dance track whilst fighting disco its  some power ballad style rock music instead.  I couldn’t work out if this was intentionally meant to be funny or not, but either way I found it hilarious.

Now as a gamer and also a parent I cannot do this review without mentioning Chapter 3. I say mention, but really I mean describe my actual rage for how much I detested this Chapter of the game. I suspect for those of you that have played it will know exactly what I mean. When you arrive in Onomichi with Haruto he begins to cry and your mission is to go off and find some food for him. Whilst doing this Haruto will periodically begin to cry and you have to try and soothe him by shaking the controller, etc. Here’s the thing, I’m a parent and I play games to escape being a parent and not have to deal with a screaming child, SO WHY IN THE HELL WOULD I WANT TO DEAL WITH A CRYING CHILD IN  A COMPUTER GAME!! Who honestly thought that this was a good idea or interesting gameplay. I wanted to throw my controller at the TV just to make it stop.

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Despite the horror of Chapter 3 and the endless movie sequences, there are still enjoyable elements of this game. The fighting is straightforward and fun, while the story is interesting, it’s also amusing and quirky with the over the top serious soundtrack and the randomness of the lack of facial expressions that accompanies the emotional dialogue which I still haven’t worked out if it was intentional in order to amuse. Graphical it’s also very good as well, the way they have captured the style of major Japanese cities with tower blocks and neon lights, etc. is really cool. Ultimately, I feel fans of the previous titles will enjoy this title, but I’ve got to be honest and say that this game is not my cup of tea. The endless movie sequences and lack of variety made this a chore to play and made the game very linear/repetitive and I lost interest. This is a shame, because there are elements that I thought were fun and interesting, like the arcade game and various side mission elements to level up your character. One for the Yakuza fans, not one for the gaming parents.

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