It took three whole years for the original Yakuza 5 to come West on PlayStation 3, and by that point in 2015, the PlayStation 4 was gaming's dominant console. As such, Yakuza 5 often gets forgotten -- but it shouldn't be. Yakuza 5 Remastered is a potent reminder that this gargantuan game deserved so much better.
The story's split between five playable characters. Kiryu returns but he's stuck in a dead-end job as a taxi driver. Akiyama, the lovable loan shark from Yakuza 4, also returns alongside the hulking Saejima. Newcomer Shinada is a disgraced baseball player, and Kiryu's adopted daughter Haruka is chasing her dream of becoming a pop idol. All of them have their own mundane yet engrossing story that, eventually, ties neatly into an overarching plot that's classically Yakuza. For the most part, it's excellent.
But scale is Yakuza 5's big selling point. The game features five cities that you're free to explore, each with their own attractions and activities. It's a sprawling experience, but there's just so much to see and do that the main plot threads can lose a lot of their intensity. At times, Yakuza 5 feels incredibly slow, even by Yakuza standards, but it's undoubtedly worth sticking with.
And then there are the minigames. Yakuza 5 has just about everything that you could ever dream of -- from karaoke and darts to fishing and, er, snowball combat -- but it's the immensely in-depth character-specific activities that steal the show. Whether it's Kiryu's horribly addictive taxi driving quests or Saejima's reflective survival-based hunting expeditions, you can lose hour after hour after hour to Yakuza 5, but it always feels like there's a new obsession just waiting around the next corner.