Yakuza 6: The Song Of Life is the final chapter of Kazuma Kiryu story and boy, there has been a few games made about the Dragon of Dojima. I have to be honest, I had never completed a Yakuza game beforehand, but had started a fair few. I remember playing either No.3 or 4 on the PS3 many moons back. I was deep into the game when I got that evil email from Lovefilm saying I had to send it back… Yes, you read right, Lovefilm actually used to be a decent way of getting games. Now it’s just nothing – well actually I think Amazon bought them. Anyway, I recently started playing Yakuza Zero – which is the beginning of it all, but received Y6 for the review so didn’t have time to finish it.
The easiest way of describing this game is by saying that it is a Japanese Grand Theft Auto. Admittedly, the map is nowhere near as open or big, but it reminds me of one of the earlier GTAs.
You play as Kiryu Kazuma. Having just spent time in jail, you have lived life away from the Yakuza for a long time now and are seen as an old, retired, washed out waste. You wanted to live peacefully, looking after orphans and young people who need help. Unfortunately, that was never going to be the case. Your ‘daughter’ (who actually isn’t your daughter) had moved away whilst you were in prison. Your task is to find her… and I won’t go any further, but your journey will involve blood, betrayal, love, arcading and a lot of babysitting – which annoyed me to no end, as I am a dad in real life as well. Of course, it isn’t as simple as saving her, as you get caught up in Yakuza business and the desperate feud between the Japanese Yakuza and the Chinese Triads.
In a lot of ways, Y6 has improved or changed from the previous titles. First of all, the graphics are improved greatly. The character’s faces are incomprehensibly better that Yakuza Zero and really show off what graphics can do these days. You could switch the sound off, not read the dialogue and still be able to work out the atmosphere of the scene by reading the character’s face. Not only are the characters a lot better than previous games but so are the backgrounds. The only real problem I noticed was the screen tearing (where white lines appear in the background) which was evident throughout. This is noticeable in most Yakuza games and most games which come out of Japan.
No matter what the scenario, they have ensured that the music follows the mood of the scene. If you are taking part in a mission where you have to move with haste then the music will quicken which gives you that extra little thrill of excitement. If a particularly emotion is being conveyed in the scene then the music will match it. Throughout your whole 20-hour journey you will be engulfed within the scenes and often feel like you really are Kiryu Kazuma. With lifelike graphics and the type of sound that catches your heart and captures your mind. I suppose the Japanese voice acting often throw me back to reality and told me that I definitely wasn’t there but because I felt so involved there were a number of times that I was so convinced I was Kiryu that I stopped reading the subtitles. Unfortunately, I hadn’t suddenly learnt Japanese therefore had no idea what had happened. I find it challenging to comment on the voice acting as I couldn’t understand a single word they were saying but I must add that the actor who voices Kiryu is damn right cool.
Yakuza 6: The Song Of Life offers you a lot in terms of gameplay. There are the endless side missions – named sub stories, as well as other missions you can find throughout the game. There is also an abundance of arcades which you can visit and play some of the old school classic games… I’m just waiting for Altered Beast to be added to the next one. There’s clan missions where you control your clan to go head-to-head with another one, similar to Command and Conquer, but with a lot less strategy.
However, at the end of the day, the biggest part of what you do here is fighting. Fighting is the name of the game – fighting is what you get your cut-scenes for and fighting is what you will love. If any of you remember Fighting Force on the PS1, it reminds me a little bit of that… however, it is a lot better. The screen steadies, the subtitles bounce onto the screen and the battle commences. You kick, punch, pick up plant pots, grab your opponents and then enter Supreme Rage and smash everything up.
Although the fighting isn’t that technical, you are able to add to your move list to improve the mechanics. The more you fight, the more you gain new moves, and the more you smash up the bad guys. As a friend said to me about this series, “You never get tired of smashing bad guy’s heads into the wall” and that is exactly how I felt. Never once did I get bored of the fighting, even though I found myself hitting the same buttons over and over.
Despite my happiness with all the game mechanics, the biggest appeal to this game is the story, and what a great story it is. It is clear that they could easily turn the Yakuza games into films, and this is something that I reckon may get done. Recently, I was reading the potential of them bringing Y2, Y3 and Y4 to the PS4 as well, which is also great news. Yakuza is a game which offers hours of fun and is my favourite ‘Japanese GTA’ (with a little more structure).
Here is a game franchise which everyone should try but not everyone will love. If you do love it, then check out the After Hours Premium Edition which also includes the following:
- Hardcover Art Book – The intense human drama and magnetic world of Yakuza 6 will be on display in this stunning art book.
- 2 Bar Glasses (280ml) – Designed with Kiryu’s ferocious dragon tattoo, these bar glasses are the perfect receptacles for your beverage of choice.
- 2 Ice Stones – Cool down your drinks with a pair of heat action branded ice stones!
- 2 Coasters – A true yakuza knows how to relax with class, so coasters are a must have when lounging after hours.
- An Outer Box – All of these essential tools will be housed within a collectable outer box.
(Click on the image for the full-size version)
- Developer: Sega
- Publisher: Sega
- Players: single-player
- HD options: up to 1080p
I have been a video game player since 1993 and a music fan since I can remember. I studied Film and Journalism at university and ended up becoming a Primary School teacher. Video games changed my life and sent me on the right track and have stayed with me ever since.