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Yakuza - hands on

You're walking down the street, minding your own business - in a flashy suit and snakeskin shoes, sure, but you're not in anybody's face. Suddenly, you see a beautiful girl and a drunk creep. You realize that she's trying to get away from him - it becomes clear when she hides behind you. You can tell him to kiss off, so you do - and the girl invites you to her favorite bar for a couple of drinks. She's sexy and she seems to be into you... but the room starts spinning way too soon. You wake up in an alley... minus a pile of cash.

Now this is the genius bit: if you want to, you can track down the girl, get her to take you back to the bar, and then you can beat the hell out of the bartender and get your money back. That's the life of Kazuma Kiryu - once known as the Dragon of the Dojima Family mobsters, now an ex-con forced to wander the seedy streets of Tokyo's dankest district to get to the bottom of a 10 billion yen mystery. That's $87 million in US money... anybody would be into that, right?

Yakuza isn't simply an adventure game starring a Japanese takeoff on Tony Soprano. It's not a bloodless GTA clone set in Tokyo, either. No, it's a deep game that makes strides forward in marrying R-Rated drama and gameplay. While there's little here that you won't have seen the like of before, based on our playtime so far, it's the slick way it's all put together that makes it matter.

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