Providing an insight into Japanese sub-culture, Yakuza 3 is an action adventure game that takes place against the backdrop of Tokyo and Osaka. Playing as Kazuma Kiryu, the story revolves around your fight to protect an orphanage from being closed down by the boss of a local yakuza clan.
Yakuza 3 is a difficult game to explain, blending a number of different types of gameplay. Generally you’ll find yourself roaming around open-world locations picking up quests in a typical JRPG style, while doing battle against local street punks. You’ll also have the chance to partake in dozens of mini-games from rhythm-based games, such as Karaoke, to playing a round of golf.
With typically bright blue SEGA skies and very vivid and colourful locations, roaming around the dreamy neon-lit streets of Tokyo carrying out a variety of extremely odd tasks is quite addictive. Yakuza 3 can be a very slow paced game and the first time you step into the world it seems to take an age to get going. The lack of English voice acting means that dialogue is subtitled and there's a lot of back story and character building to listen to and cut-scenes to watch. If you have the patience, however, there are some poignant and emotional moments as Kazuma really puts his heart and soul into saving the Orphanage. Pay attention and you’ll soon build up an empathy with his character.
Part of the game's appeal is the wide variety of things to do. There’s a bizarre lifestyle aspect to the game, so you’ll find yourself visiting local restaurants, driving yourself crazy searching everywhere for a certain collectible, or buying trinkets in one of the many stores. You’ll often wonder why you’ve spent so much time doing so, yet you'll still do it, such is the allure of this fairly open-world environment. The mini-games give you the chance to idle your time away partaking in the likes of billiards or fishing and offer a nice change in pace from the aggressive street battles.
Indeed, Yakuza 3 is mainly about fighting street punks and yakuza gang members and their bosses. Fights can kick off at any time, sometimes when you don’t want them to, but levelling up and working your way through the many combat abilities makes for some visually and technically impressive battles that gain in intensity the further you progress.
Fighting is totally over-the-top and often violent. Fighting with your hands and feet feels incredibly satisfying, but the most entertainment is to be had when you enter Heat mode and get to pull off some cinematic manoeuvres, perhaps cracking a bicycle wheel into an enemy's mid-riff, or smashing someone’s head against a wall -- brutal yet quite funny with it and certainly deserving of its '18' certificate. The frequency of these fight scenes can become extremely annoying, especially if you were on your way to do something a little more relaxing, but head-butting your opponent or stamping on their head rarely loses its appeal.
Yakuza 3 offers something really different from the norm. It’s a crazy game that oozes atmosphere around every corner, created by a mix of good character building and a variety of interesting and sometimes bizarre and totally unexpected mini-games. The storyline requires a lot of patience, but there's depth there if you're willing to sit through the text. There's no doubt that Yakuza 3 is an acquired taste and a game that you'll either spend hours upon hours with, or turn off after the first hour. Our opinion: we kind of love it for being so different.
So many odd but entertaining things to do.
Great story and character building. Heat mode provides some violent, yet entertaining moments.
Reading through reams of text will have limited appeal.
Too many fights, and at times when you just don't want them.