As promised, SEGA has revealed the very first details about the hotly anticipated Yakuza 5. The fifth entry in the series appears to be playing up to its title well, featuring five playable protagonists set across five different cities. The game’s due out later this year on PlayStation 3 and will boast – wait for it – a brand new engine. No more PS2 running animations, at last.

The full Japanese title of the game is Ryu ga Gotoku 5: Yume Kanaeshi Mono, which roughly translates to Yakuza 5: Person Who Fulfils Dreams.

The title’s playable cast is largely based upon characters from previous titles. Lead protagonist Kazuma Kiryu returns for a fifth stint, joined by Yakuza 4 stalwarts Taiga Saejima and loan shark Shun Akiyama. Newcomer Tatsuo Shinada takes the fourth spot, while Kiryu’s adopted daughter Haruka rounds out the cast.

It’s unclear how Haruka will be integrated into the gameplay, but we can’t imagine she’ll be getting into too many fights. Perhaps her gameplay sections will have a heavier emphasis on exploration?

The newcomer, Shinada, is a former baseball player who was given a lifetime ban from the game because of gambling. In Yakuza 5 he finds himself struggling with debt, and out to prove his innocence.

The story will connect directly to the events of Yakuza 4. Fascinatingly, Kiryu is now working as a taxi driver in Fukuoka. Haruka has left Okinawa in pursuit of becoming an idol, while Saejima is serving a three year prison sentence. Lastly, Akiyama has moved to Osaka on business.

The game has apparently had double the development time of previous Yakuza titles, resulting in the implementation of a brand new game engine. The gameplay will remain familiar, with battles and exploration taking centre stage, but series honcho Toshihiro Nagoshi has noted that the sequel represents the beginning of a “new Yakuza”. Apparently nothing from the old games has been recycled.

Controls are said to have been improved, while gameplay will switch between battle and adventure modes seamlessly. No more long loading screens, then.

The game’s roughly 70% complete and is due out on PS3 in December. No word on a Western release just yet, but we’re crossing everything we’ve got.