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Yakuza 5 TGS Hands-on Preview

By Janelle | September 20, 2012 at 6:50 am

After a radical departure from series convention with Yakuza: Of the End, Sega has developed another main-series Yakuza game for the PS3 that sticks strictly to the formula, if the demo is any indication.

Yakuza 5, fittingly, will have five protagonists, and will take place across five Japanese cities: Tokyo, Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka. Series chief protagonist Kazuma Kiryuu is working as a taxi driver in Fukuoka, probably trying to stay out of the mob and get on with a normal life. We’ve seen how that works out in other Yakuza games, and this situation plays out no differently: circumstances drag Kiryuu back into Japan’s underworld intrigue after he learns of Majima Goro’s apparent death. Kiryuu’s adopted niece Haruka will also appear, as the series’s first female protagonist. Haruka is pursuing her dream of becoming a pop idol in Osaka when her mentor “commits suicide.” Having seen enough mob action to last a lifetime, Haruka tries to enlist help to find out what really happened.

If you’ve played any of the PS3 Yakuza games, then everything about Yakuza 5 would be completely familiar. The player takes a protagonist around an urban environment, getting in fights (or in Haruka’s case, impromptu dance battles), doing quests, buying energy drinks, eating convenience store food, and generally goofing around in modern Japan until he feels like advancing the story. Only minor changes seem to have been made to the core gameplay. One of the biggest is that the battles on the street now transition more quickly and smoothly, due to punks actually shouting out challenges via soundbites, rather than the player having to scroll through dialogue boxes prior to every battle. It’s not completely seamless, but it does go a long way towards making the battles feel more snappy.

The trailer boasted of over 120 real-life product and store tie-ins, ranging from famous Japanese eateries, to arcade games like Taiko Drum Master. Spread out between the five cities, there’s a whole slew of minigames, quests and diversions: variety show appearances, batting cages, crane games, casino games, and of course, the famous hostess clubs. Each character will have a side story influenced by a hobby or job of some kind. Taxi-driver Kiryuu will be able to customize the look of his taxi, get in high-speed races, and do other decidely unrealistic things with his cab. Other side content ranges from wilderness survival and bear fighting, to baseball, to appearing on variety shows.

Yakuza 5 will probably be the final iteration of the Yakuza series this generation. Having refined the formula over the other entries, Sega made a game that pushes a ton of content without mixing up the formula too much. But then again, a large part of the draw of Yakuza games is the large urban environments with lots to see and do, so that’s hardly a problem. Yakuza 5 releases in Japan on December 6 of this year.

Topics: Tokyo Game Show, Tokyo Game Show 2012