Before Yakuza was niche on the PlayStation 3, it was even more niche on the PlayStation 2. The original Yakuza was undeniably rough around the edges and its somewhat shaky remake, Yakuza: Kiwami, reflected that. But with Yakuza 2, the series found a real foothold. Improved gameplay and a more complex, intriguing narrative pushed the sequel forward, and Yakuza: Kiwami 2 is a loving recreation of that defining moment for the franchise.
There's an argument to be made for SEGA oversaturating the Western market with Yakuza titles. In under two years, the publisher has released three Yakuza games on PlayStation 4, and now Yakuza: Kiwami 2 is just a couple of weeks away from hitting store shelves. It can all be a bit much to keep up with -- especially if you're new to the series -- but if you're still eager to join Kazuma Kiryu on his dramatic adventures, then you seemingly can't go wrong with Kiwami 2.
We've spent around 30 hours with Kiwami 2 so far, and it's looking like a top tier Yakuza title. As alluded, it's a remake of Yakuza 2, and although parts of the blueprint haven't aged all that gracefully, there's still so much quality entertainment to be found here. The fact that the game's been remade using the often stunning new engine from Yakuza 6 shouldn't be ignored, either -- Kamurocho and Sotenbori have never felt so alive.
Obviously, we can't go into too much detail here -- we have to save a lot of things for our full review -- but Kiwami 2 offers up a tantalising tale. Fantastic storytelling is something we expect from the franchise at this point, but again, it was Yakuza 2 that really pushed the boat out. Main antagonist Ryuji Goda is still one of the best bad guys in the entire series, and seeing his snarling mug, fully recreated and highly polished, is going to be a highlight for anyone who remembers the original PS2 title.
It's never just about the main story with Yakuza, though, is it? Kiwami 2 has a crazy amount of optional content for you to get lost in. The side quests in particular have been a highlight so far, with one specific short story absolutely blowing our minds. Outrageous isn't the word -- we were staring at our screen in disbelief. It's top notch Yakuza madness, and there are so many quests to complete.
Indeed, if like us you thought that Yakuza 6 was a little light on optional activities, Kiwami 2 will no doubt satisfy your desire for a near endless stream of stuff to do. The game's packed to bursting point with all sorts of distractions, like the developer just decided to throw everything that it could into this seriously robust remake -- as if to apologise for the comparatively slim pickings of the prior release.
Combine all of this and you're left with what could well be one of the best Yakuza titles on the market. Naturally, we'll have to carry on playing before presenting our final thoughts, but until then, Yakuza fans have every reason to be excited.
Are you looking forward to Yakuza: Kiwami 2? Slap on your white suit and start cracking skulls in the comments section below.