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