We're in head-over-heels admiration for Sony's risky Japanophile experiment. But why's it so good? Well ahead of our review (check back mid-week for that), we wanted to justify the reasons why you should rush out to your local game store and pick up this under-rated gem right now.
- Love-child. In many ways, the Yakuza franchise represents the marriage of many of SEGA's most classic franchises: there's some Shenmue in there, there's some Virtua Fighter, and there's some Streets Of Rage. If any of those brands get your panties in a bunch, throw-in some inspiration from Grand Theft Auto and various RPG archetypes and you have a rather varied and compelling package right? The completely Japanese environments are enough to have any Japanophile swooning, whilst the gameplay is completely accessible to a range of users. In many ways it's an RPG yes, but it's also a fairly simplistic (though deep if you want it to be) brawler.
- Vibrancy. Yakuza 3 is a bright, pretty and attractive game. If you seriously need a break from all the dark, gritty games available on Playstation 3 right now - Yakuza 3 is just the ticket. It's typically SEGA, with oversaturated colours creating a world brimming with colour.
- Yakuza 4. Y'know, we have an agenda here. Yakuza 4 is just around the corner, and if you spend your money on this iteration there's a bigger chance SEGA will find it within their hearts to port over Yakuza 4 too. Go on — buy it for us.
- Deep characters. It's testament to Yakuza 3 that there's a complete character file, relating all the different relationships between characters and their entire back-story. Much of the game's characters have their own back-story, motives and personality — which given the depth of the cast is an accolade few games receive. Grand Theft Auto is probably the closest franchise to having such a multi-faceted cast.
- There's a ClubSEGA. Whilst many of the machines in the ClubSEGA remain inaccessible - let's just put this one into complete context: this game has a ClubSEGA. 'Nuffsaid?
- Catch you. So, Yakuza 3's plot may be soap opera-esque in its delivery, but that's what makes it so inviting. While being deadly serious, there's an under-cover charm to Yakuza's uber-slow pacing and end-of-chapter cliff-hangers. It's a warm story despite its violent overtones, and it's got us completely hooked.
We'll have a complete review of Yakuza 3 later this week. Stay tuned.