by Liam Edwards
reviewed on PS3
The production value of Yakuza 4 is fantastic, with each cut-scene being full of fantastic dialogue, outstanding voice-acting and engaging storylines. The main asset Yakuza 4 has is its story – it is well told and the set-pieces for each cut-scene or section of the game are fantastic. Not many games can boast such fantastic production value and attention to detail.
What Yakuza 4 gets completely wrong though, still, is the way it tells the story in between these cut-scenes. When talking to characters or people within the city, you are made to read texts boxes, with only grunts and signs of yes or no coming from the characters as you read. This completely takes away from the presentation of the game. The text boxes look awful, they make an awful sound as the text rolls across the screen, and you are made to sit in silence as you read. This was a massive downfall in Yakuza 3, and why the same style has been included in 4 is a mystery. Even if you are interested in the story and want to know each detail you will still find yourself skipping through the text boxes as fast as you can because they are that annoying and unbearable.
What is by far the most annoying part is when the game transitions from a beautiful cut-scene to having you read through text boxes of conversations and then taking you back to the cut-scene. It is just plain lazy design. The cut-scenes are great to watch but when they get cut short because it is easier for you to read text boxes, the game loses its connection to the player.
This game is run on a different engine from its predecessor, but doesn’t stray far from the same visual types. Textures look smoother and brighter than in 3, but Yakuza 4 at times can look abysmal. Many characters’ hair look colored with oily grease and slicked back with no movement. This really lets some characters models down, as all of the main characters are modeled to perfection in other regards, from the clothes to the face and lip-syncing (though every often body proportions are ridiculous and you’ll encounter a man with giant hands).
By far the most impressive feature in Yakuza 4 is the brilliant lip-syncing and voice acting. As mentioned before, production value is fantastic within Yakuza 4 and the lip-syncing is some of the best in any game of today. Characters are convincing and show emotions and expressions that make them almost seem real. This enables you to really develop a bond with the characters, something many games fail to do, but Yakuza 4 nails perfectly.
Kamurocho is also one of the most beautiful environments in any game. Based in the fake light-district of Tokyo, Kamurocho is packed full of people, lights and buildings. The city really does feel alive at night when the game truly shows what the engine is capable of. The sheer scale of the city is also impressive, with there being many back-alleys, side streets, an underground route around the city and rooftop escapes when avoiding the police.
Welcome to Nippon
Yakuza 4 doesn’t fail to deliver the experience players felt in its predecessor, but at times the game can feel too much like 3. But for players looking for a game with an almost endless play time and plenty of things to do, you won’t get much more for your money than with Yakuza 4. It is a game where if you put up with the bad, you are rewarded with the extremely good; it rewards players for patience. If you are interested in Japanese culture and want to play a game to satisfy your Japanese interests you need to play Yakuza 4 for a deep insight to the Japanese world and culture. If you played Yakuza 3 and enjoyed it, then you should definitely pick up Yakuza 4 as you won’t be disappointed.
Fantastic cut-scenes and beautiful production value.
Some very boring parts, too similar to its predecessor.