Graphics:
8.0
Gameplay:
8.4
Sound:
7.8
Control:
7.9
Replay Value:
8.3
Overall Rating:
8.1
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
Sega
Developer:
Sega
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
Action/Adventure


Sega’s Yakuza franchise has proven both engrossing and stimulating. The lurid, well-drawn storylines combine with the brutal melee brawling, and it always helps to have memorable characters. Kazuma Kiryu isn’t the only playable character this time around but he remains a big highlight, and Kamurocho is a more authentic and visceral city than ever before. The story progresses at a decent clip, there’s always tons to do, and the established fighting mechanic almost never gets tiresome. However, it’s clear the developers recycled many of the crowd-pleasing maneuvers, and the pleasant diversions tend to occupy too much of the presentation. And at some point, we have to assume they’ll take the next step and implement voices in all phases of the game. That being said, Yakuza 4 remains solid on all counts.

These aren’t the most accomplished visuals you’ll ever see, but above all else, Sega wishes to up the ante in terms of atmosphere, immersion and gritty attitude. It’s in every little detail that spices up our environment, from the hostesses to the bums. Character detail excels during cut-scenes and the choreography is excellent, as usual. During gameplay, there’s a certain fuzziness; a lack of shiny clarity that many next-gen titles have long since embraced. Some of the special effects seem a tad lackluster as well, and this seems to be more evidence of the aforementioned recycling. But even though we don’t have a drastically upgraded graphical presentation, this is the best-looking Yakuza yet. Provided you make a few small exceptions, you should enjoy the consistent and mostly appealing style.

In regards to sound, it’s always hard to tell if the Japanese voice acting is any good, and yeah, there are still no voices during gameplay. Personally, I have no problem with dialogue boxes but some might. Furthermore, this is a series that has always impressed me with its great original compositions; the music has always managed to enhance the action. But for some reason, there seems to be more repetition in the soundtrack department this time around, and even the good selections take a backseat to the effects. It’s just not the same sort of all-around quality we’ve come to expect and that’s undeniably disappointing. Even so, the ambient background audio helps a great deal; it terms of creating a believable, fictional city, the sound does its job quite well. And maybe that’s what matters most.

Yes, Kazuma isn’t the only character; if you played the demo, you’ll know there are a total of four characters in Yakuza 4 . Each of them play an active role in an expansive, semi-satisfying storyline, and each has a unique fighting style, which helps to add variety to an admittedly aging combat mechanic. The problem is that we never really get a firm grasp of the overarching plot, although we do get a chance to learn a lot about the four characters in question. It just seems a little erratic and all over the place, if you know what I mean. Still, I don’t want to give the impression that I dislike the story; the writing seems good, the pacing works out well (provided you don’t spend too much time entertaining hostesses), and the emotional intensity is appreciated. I just loved some of those in-your-face cut-scenes.

As you explore Kamurocho, you have more freedom than ever before. You still can’t enter all the buildings, but there are more open doors than you might expect, and your eyes are always drawn to yet another big-city trait that serves to envelop you in the beehive that is a thriving metropolis. Then again, when the time comes, the restrictions and limitations become obvious: when you get a phone call and you answer it, everything stops and a scene begins. And then there’s the standard and ever-annoying “invisible wall” issue that stops you from exploring Kamurocho further. In other words, this isn’t much like Grand Theft Auto but that’s not a bad thing, per se; Yakuza has always been a relatively unique creature of a very distinct design. It combines the arcade-y-ness of Double Dragon -esque combat with a story most reminiscent of RPGs and the appealing element of discovery.

Speaking of discovery, how’s about those hostesses? Talk about a “diversion.” You can enter into a mini-game of sorts that lets you “train” your favorite girl; you can dress her up like your own personal doll and even choose various make-ups. When she’s on your side, so-to-speak, you can trade e-mail addresses and take things to another level. Heck, you can even embark on date-like expeditions that have nothing to do with the main plot. This is all very nice but for some reason, I kept thinking the designers put a bit too much effort into this secondary element of the game. Pole dancing? Massage with tons of innuendo? Sure, it’s a girlfriend you don’t really touch (and one you pay for), but there are several hostess clubs, lots of girls and outfits, and plenty of ways to communicate. It’s just a bit much for a gritty, mafia-oriented adventure, don’t you think?

Thankfully, the combat is just as fun as ever. There’s a whole lot more blood than I remember, too, as stomping someone’s face will result in some definite red spatters. I still think the camera can be better, as it often sits too close to the action and causes many foes to disappear off to the sides. This has been an ongoing issue throughout the series, though, and I believe the fans have long since gotten used to it. The challenge can be significant, but you always feel competent and capable; stringing together combos is a blast, and picking up random environmental objects to spice things up is a plus. The Heat meter is basically the same; it allows you to execute even more powerful moves, and it also lets you use the background to your advantage. In Heat? Grab a foe with Circle, drag him to a car, and introduce his head to the glass.

The finishing moves are cool, too, but as I said before, the entire fighting system does feel a little old as we’ve seen most all these elements before. Still, I’m a big proponent of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy and that being the case, I really can’t say anything against the firmly established combat style. It’s responsive and explosive and the inclusion of an RPG-like system in regards to character advancement is fantastic. On top of which, with four separate characters, you can experiment with four different styles, which keeps the gameplay fresh. And if at any time you do happen to grow tired of endless beatings, there’s always plenty to attract your attention. It’s a good, solid package that should give action fans a lengthy adventure that rewards the vigilant and brutal. And if you just so happen to need some TLC, the hostesses are always around to help. Nice.

Yakuza 4 has a lot to offer and for the most part, it delivers. The fighting is about as refined and diverse as it has ever been, the city of Kamurocho is more detailed and immersive, the story has plenty of highlights, and becoming immersed in urban Japanese culture has never been so entertaining. However, it’s held back by one slightly disappointing fact: the series is starting to show its age. No voices outside the cut-scenes, a combat system that – while perfectly functional – isn’t much different than before, and a camera that can once again be problematic. That, and it really does feel as if Sega spent too much time dealing with the extras; with the unessentials. Yes, the hostesses are an invaluable part of the atmosphere, as are other elements, but this causes the game to lose its focus. After saying all that, I will say that if you enjoyed Yakuza 3 , you’ll love Yakuza 4 .

If you have yet to play a game in the series, this one is worth the price of admission so long as you understand and can accept the drawbacks.

The Good: Meticulously designed and immersive city. Control and combat is tight and rewarding. Story can be very interesting. Exploration and RPG aspects add depth. Always lots to do.

The Bad: Music doesn’t have as much impact. Too many recycled gameplay elements. Camera is still iffy. Extra stuff can infringe on main plot.

The Ugly: “I’m sorry, I really only care about Kazuma.”

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Oxvial
Oxvial
10 years ago

It's on Best Buy at 39.99!

I got it but don't have time to play it T.T.


Last edited by Oxvial on 3/16/2011 9:39:14 PM

johnld
johnld
10 years ago

i got it from kmart for 60, got yakuza 3 and 13 bucks back in reward program points for free.

Oxvial
Oxvial
10 years ago

Yes it's a great deal for the ones that missed Y3.

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

Still not in English? If the gameplay doesn't feature voice acting, then there really is no reason for them to not dub their cut scenes. There's a lot of games out there for me, why would I reward this kind of lazy development?

Drake_RB3
Drake_RB3
10 years ago

The way you've phrased your comment is misleading. Everything is translated into English, so I wouldn't call that lazy.

If you're referring to the fact that the original Japanese audio has been left alone, well that comes down to your cultural taste. Personally, I think the atmosphere and style of the game and story is spectacular in Japanese.

If it were dubbed, it really doesn't have the same feel to a story about Yakuza in a Tokyo like city.

SayWord
SayWord
10 years ago

@drake amen brother. ^^

cLoudou
cLoudou
10 years ago

Sub over dub anyday, IMHO.

johnld
johnld
10 years ago

most of the time, they screw up the english dubbing and makes it sound stupid. i prefer subs instead of dubs.

Oxvial
Oxvial
10 years ago

More than lazy is that people here doesn't care about the Yakuza franchise, first game was all dubbed but bombed here, so Sega just don't want to spend much has putting dubbing the franchise again.

Awful move, but well we are getting what we deserve, the generation of FPS.

Jawknee
Jawknee
10 years ago

Last time I checked most of the people in Japan and the Yakuza spoke….well, Japanese.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Nonsense, tons of Japanese speak English, you could easily create the same atmosphere with real voice over work. Alien is right, that's laziness. But I can't blame them too much, the games never do so hot in the US anyway.

johnld
johnld
10 years ago

just looking at the english subtitles makes me apprehensive of what an actual english dub would be. i started yakuza 3 over on hard mode and the japanese voices/dialogs fit perfectly but their "translation" in the subtitles or the words they used were hit or miss. i'm actually surprised they didnt use a lot of f bombs in the subtitles. kinda like subtitles because i am also learning japanese from the game. i know its not practical, hahaha learning japanese from a yakuza figure, but i still like it. only thing i want is that they make the subtitles actually pop and be readable. i mean whats the point of putting in subtitles that you cant read because it gets lost in the background.

kinda reminds me of the time i saw gurren laggan in english, main character was saying "big bro" alot which got stupid. direct translation wont really flow but rewriting it just looses the idea's orginal appeal. i cant really describe it. another anime i watched said "elder sister" alot. i just got annoyed.


Last edited by johnld on 3/17/2011 2:51:54 AM

SayWord
SayWord
10 years ago

I love yakuza 4 just as I have the other 3. I agree that I'd rather have the whole game revolve around kiryu. I did however grow to like the other characters. Their side stories are really well done.

Cannot wait for yakuza of the end! Bring it over soon sega:)


Last edited by SayWord on 3/16/2011 10:21:54 PM

kraygen
kraygen
10 years ago

I have only played the demo's for yakuza 3 and 4, but they just didn't do anything for me. I know a lot of people love them, but is the full game that much different from the yakuza 3 demo?

Yakuza 4 demo was just the combat, which in my opinion feels like a less than mediocre fighting game. Are there no guns in the game? Pretty sure the yakuza use guns.

SayWord
SayWord
10 years ago

I love the golden gun you get after you defeat anon by doing all the substories lol, makes extra hard a breeze.

johnld
johnld
10 years ago

i played the yakuza 3 demo, didnt really like it. then i played the game and loved it. same as i did with valkyria chronicles. i love beating the hell of people especially with heat moves using weapons.

if you're looking for deals, best buy has is for 40. kmart has it for 60 but you get about 13 buck in points back plus yakuza 3. yakuza 3 is 15 bucks at kmart right now too.

Oxvial
Oxvial
10 years ago

Yakuza 3 demo is what you should expect of the game, plus bunch of side quests and minigames, also underground tournaments,it looks like now you can also coach a cage fighter, I'm not sure I still dont play it but watched some videos.

But yes the Y3 demo show the core of the game.

There are guns in the game, but they are kinda rare.


Last edited by Oxvial on 3/16/2011 10:56:04 PM

johnld
johnld
10 years ago

yakuza 3 demo only shows combat really, nothing else. cant really judge a game just from that.

Kevadu
Kevadu
10 years ago

I can't understand what Sega was thinking with that Yakuza 4 demo. Combat is pretty much the weakest part of the game, and that's all they show?

There is actually a fantastic Yakuza 4 demo on the Japanese PSN (if you look for it remember that it's called Ryu ga Gotoko, not Yakuza, there). It's in Japanese, obviously, but it gives you a much better idea of the style and flavor that makes these games worth playing. I don't know why Sega didn't just translate that demo…


Last edited by Kevadu on 3/18/2011 1:51:44 AM

johnld
johnld
10 years ago

i just got my copy from yesterday but i decided to platinum yakuza 3 first since i got it for free. i cant wait for the hostess bars and sexy onsen ping pong, hahaha.

Kevadu
Kevadu
10 years ago

Platinum Yakuza 3? Dear lord, you're mad. Trying to do all the minigames alone is enough to drive me off.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

I will get it later on when I have time. I love the whole atmosphere, too bad the subtitles keep pulling you out of it.

Cue the Yakuza-avatar member to start talking about how fantastic Japanese voice overs are…

Kiryu
Kiryu
10 years ago

U only care about Kiryu Kazuma that's ur reason for not liking the game.Are u kidding me Nathan Drake,Kratos,Cole Magrath or any other hero doesn't compare to the Epicness of Kiryu Kazuma!,Akiyama shun is a great character and also Taiga Saejima is also an important character to the story .In the end you will understand!
Yakuza 4 has an Epic Story better than the first two and Kiryu does have a big part in the Story!
Even if this is th last Yakuza in the story of the series i was impressed at the plot and a great ending to the Series!
Yakuza 4 the things u can do,it's like Yakuza 3 on crack!
Ben i feel sorry for you for not playing the First two in Japanese!These games have the most engaging plots in the history of video games!
I don't know how much u played yakuza 4 cause Kiryu Kazuma comes after the introduction of the other characters!
I officially hate u for giving this game a 8.1 u suck ben.Really i respected u but u disappointed me this time!
Don't hear this guy people buy the game trust me it's better than GTA or Final Fantasy Story wise,things to do,and combat wise!
PS3 Exclusive!The Graphics are Top Notch by taking into account the amount of things u can do in the city!
Kiryu Kazuma Forever!
Music doesn't have much impact r u bloody kidding me!Yakuza series has some of the best soundtracks in Videogames!
Let me give u a link to the sound track u can hear on Youtube!
Yakuza 1,2,3,4 OST
watch?v=iIhrco9PYjk&feature=channel_video_title

This is not GTA this is a whole new genre!


Last edited by Kiryu on 3/17/2011 12:13:23 AM

___________
___________
10 years ago

dude!
chillax!
your making it sound like he just raped your baby!
im sorry, but the whole point of yakuza is the story, and this has more plot holes then Swiss cheese!

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Wow… If we didn't already know that you are arguably the world's biggest Yakuza fan, we certainly do now. But man, Ben isn't the only one that's given it a review score in this range. In fact, most reviews are similar. Blind belief is good in some instances, but you must always look at the shortcomings, and yes, every game has them, even Yakuza.
Peace.

Kiryu
Kiryu
10 years ago

@unknown
Plot holes what in the hell are u taking about?it's a whole new story in every Yakuza!
Yakuza 4's story is top notch!u haven't even completed the game?What plot holes r u talking about u sob?

Underdog15
Underdog15
10 years ago

How does an 8.1 indicate he didn't like the game? And I'm pretty sure he gave far more reasons for negativity beyond the Kazuma reason.

___________
___________
10 years ago

constantly flicking from character to character, and there not linked to the end.
its like heavy rain, you have all these characters interacting but you never really get them linked.
they made a massive mistake with this, they should of just kept us with the main character.
the story is whats keeping this series together, its whats made people put up with the outdated rest of the game, but this has a really poor story so it has nothing holding it up.
SEGA really need to bring this into the 2011 standard for games!
3 and 4 feel like ps2 games on the ps3, which is a real shame because the series is so unique, done properly it could be so good.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

If you want to give every Yakuza game a 10, that's your business. And please don't attack everyone who doesn't believe Yakuza 4 is the greatest game ever made.

If you want to scream at someone, go over to IGN. They gave it a 6.5.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 3/17/2011 8:56:22 AM

Kiryu
Kiryu
10 years ago

@ben
NOt a 8.1
Atleat a 9 would've been great
Music,U only care about kiryu and camera were ur reasons to give it a 8.1?
Wht did u mean when u said extra stuff can infringe on the main plot!


Last edited by Kiryu on 3/17/2011 10:30:41 AM

Oxvial
Oxvial
10 years ago

The funny thing is that blank line is making you look good no matter how bad your rant was.

And yes better go to IGN your rant would make more sense in that place.

Lotusflow3r
Lotusflow3r
10 years ago

Hahahaha.

This made my YLOD a bit easier.

I love your passion!

Underdog15
Underdog15
10 years ago

Kiryu said, "NOt a 8.1
Atleat a 9 would've been great
Music,U only care about kiryu and camera were ur reasons to give it a 8.1?
Wht did u mean when u said extra stuff can infringe on the main plot!"

Ah, I see… so you only read the good, bad, and ugly part of the review. lol

Kiryu, I doubt many people would agree that it should be a 9. Perhaps for a better reference, you should look up many other games that received similar scores, like FFXIII.

8.1 hardly means it's bad. To be a 9, you have to pretty much be genre or console defining. A game in the 8's tells me it's a great game, but not console defining.

What the heck is wrong with that? Look at what other sites are giving the game… you should be thanking Ben. lol

Kiryu
Kiryu
10 years ago

@underdog15

Not console defining?What other World Roaming game can u tell me which has soo much depth to the things u can do,gameplay,and story?
What do u mean when u say console defining?
There is no other 3rd party publisher who has used the power of the PS3 in such excellent way except for MGS4!But comparing this to games like MGS4 there is lot more stuff going on!
Final Fantasy 13 has nothing on the Yakuza games,I can understand the review for ff13 cause it is an RPG!But the yakuza games are not only RPG,they are combat games with toms of minigames and 100's of other gameplay mechanics for all the mini games and side missions!
It's not ur standard JRPG Story!Each game is a real life mystery!


Last edited by Kiryu on 3/17/2011 1:05:23 PM

Underdog15
Underdog15
10 years ago

I'm not convinced. Mind you, I haven't played Yakuza 4 yet, obviously, but based on my experience with Yakuza 3, I expected 4 to be in the low 8 high 7's.

But what do I know as an unbiased person who is indifferent to the Yakuza games?

I stand by what I say when I said 8.1 is a great score.

TheCanadianGuy
TheCanadianGuy
9 years ago

@ Kiryu lol epic comment (The first one xD)

___________
___________
10 years ago

im really disappointed with this.
the series has just stagnated!
has not evolved one bit since the original came out!
i mean text boxes?
in 2011!?
come on!
theres far too much recycled from yakuza 3, this honestly feels like yakuza 3 with new missions thats it!
i was really hoping this would be a modernized yakuza, but sega have left this in the 18th century!
thing that hurt most is the story.
thats the only thing holding this series together, loose that and the series is dead!
i really enjoyed 3s story, but this is just thrown at you with nothing stitching it together.
your constantly chucked from character to character with really no link to them.
why am i being chucked from one character to the other?
what do they have to do with each other, and the overall story?
just feels far too rushed, feels like they took yakuza 3, took the story out of someones bin, and stuck it together with saliva.
its dripping all over the place, and falling to pieces!

Kiryu
Kiryu
10 years ago

Hasn't evolved since he first one came out!Can u tell me where u live so that i can come and play all the games from 1 to 4 and ask u where there is no evolving in each game?
Yakuza series is the game in the entire world in which each entry everything is changed and evolved so much and these games are released each year!
Admit u haven't even played through even one Yakuza game.Even if u played them u haven't spent time on them more than 2 to 3 hrs!
Can u please tell me where u live cause i can come there and bloody kill u u liar!

JSwayze
JSwayze
10 years ago

HAHA @ "disappointed"

___________
___________
10 years ago

right the game has evolved.
thats why 4 has pretty much the same graphics?
same moves?
hell all the finishing moves are the same as 3.
the only thing thats different is the story, and missions thats about it!
new missions, and new story does not a new game make.
go read IGNs review.

Kiryu
Kiryu
10 years ago

The city now has multiple levels like goig underground inside metros and go near the harbours and Yakuza games the story changes then also the boss battles change so even the set piece or the local changes do u understand?
Missions are also different!
There so may new Special moves in Yakuza 2 that u didn't even see in Yakuza 3,Yakuza 4 has 3 new characters which have different special moves and combat styles!
The missions are also different what else could u ask for in a game u idiot?

Oxvial
Oxvial
10 years ago

No link to them? NO LINK TO THEM? play the damn game I just played the first 2 chapters and Akiyama does mention of Kazuma and he even meets and have a talk with Tanimura (the police character)in a very important part of the plot.

Seriously stop reading IGN and their crap.


Last edited by Oxvial on 3/17/2011 11:03:10 AM

Oxvial
Oxvial
10 years ago

LOL I'm playing the game and atm Y4>Y3 plot wise,orphanage plot was okay for once but good thing Akiyama isn't into those things.

Til now Akiyama is being a good character hope the other two don't disappoint me.

Kiryu
Kiryu
10 years ago

saegima taiga the big yakuza is one of the main characters in Yakuza 4!

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Well, I wasn't expecting spectacular, but above average is certainly enough for me. Yakuza 4 (and three if I can find a copy and it's going for a good price) will be mine next week when I go to see The Waifs! Seriously, I'm more amped for that concert than I have ever been for any game (with the possible exception of iF2).

Anyway, looking forward to seeing why this series is considered a cult classic, but I'll remember to keep my expectations in check. Thanks for confirming my purchase decision Ben.
Peace.

Kiryu
Kiryu
10 years ago

Trust me do not read reviews and go play the goddamn game!
This game is Spectacular!

JSwayze
JSwayze
10 years ago

Yes, just buy the game. Odds are that you'll enjoy it

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

I said I'd buy it… Chill.

Kiryu
Kiryu
10 years ago

@lawless sorry just upset over ben's horrible review!

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Don't worry lad. We all get a bit hot under the collar now again, but to call the review horrible is going a bit far, don't you think? I wonder what you'll say to me when I post my inevitable user review if it doesn't agree with you.


Last edited by Lawless SXE on 3/17/2011 4:21:50 AM

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