Yakuza 3 - import review

Exploring the Japanese underground has never been so much fun

The main characters here are virtually acted and voiced by recognisable Japanese actors and actresses, including Susumu Terajima (star of the brilliant 2002 film Blessing Bell). They do a fine job and are supported by an excellent script, elevating Yakuza 3 to somewhere near the level of a well-planned interactive movie.

Yakuza 3 isn’t just a filmic delight - it’s a hugely satisfying game. Amusement Vision has found the perfect balance for Yakuza 3’s playable side - something like two parts fighting and two parts exploration to one part minigames. At first Kazumanosuke has only his fists and sandal-clad feet with which to bash people, although he can pick up and ‘wield’ objects found in many of the locations where scraps are fought. After a while, though, you’re given a sharp katana to use, and then two katanas, and then a Zelda-style mega-sword… and so on.

It’s rare to find a game that has such a strong sense of identity. Yakuza 3 knows what it is! It’s a (loosely) historical tale of war, murder, prostitution, romance and friendship. And while it edges scarily close to being a movie, it retains a sufficient amount of compelling game for it to be something that we’re perfectly happy to play for 40 hours.

Import Score: 9

May 12, 2008