The Yakuza revolution is soon coming to a close, in the west at least. Starting last year with Sega’s major push of Yakuza 0, we’ve seen four games from the franchise released state-side in the last two years. Last years remake of the original Yakuza, Yakuza Kiwami, didn’t set the world on fire, with the limited additions being a handful of side stories. So, when it was announced that a remake of Yakuza 2 was going to be released, I was hesitant. While it was announced to use the beautiful Dragon engine, first shown in the release of Yakuza 6, if this was another straight remake with limited additions, as with the previous remake, it would still be fun but disappointing. Thankfully, Yakuza Kiwami 2 makes some pretty large additions, leading to a far higher quality remake than Kiwami.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 starts a year after the events of the previous game. Following the betrayals and yakuza in-fighting, Kiryu decides to try and leave the life. However, he’s brought back in after learning that full blown war is about to erupt. Ryuji Goda inserts himself as the head of the competing Go-Ryu clan, and seeks to destroy everyone within Kiryu’s former clan, Tojo. Meanwhile, there appears to be a mysterious foreign influence that is trying to take control.
It’s all very, very ridiculous and bombastic, with a plot that would make Hideo Kojima confused. This can be an issue when certain aspects are dropped for a large amount of time, only to pop-up later, seemingly out of nowhere. However, while it’s not as personal of a story as the original Yakuza, it still feels like there are incredibly high stakes.
If you didn’t finish the original Yakuza or Kiwami, there’s a pretty in-depth story re-cap that can be watched at the start of the game. It can be a lifesaver if you don’t remember which characters are aligned with who.
The core open world exploration, along with brawler style combat returns, with a couple of new additions. You can recruit certain people throughout the cities of Kamurocho and Sotenbori, who will provide you with specific powerful attacks. Recruiting a dominatrix to give you a BDSM whip to spank enemies, then having her step on their…areas with her heels is absolutely hilarious.
That said, recruiting these characters is largely done via the sub-stories. Many of these feel like they’re not as full as other sub-stories, as these will largely consist of you showing up, beating up a couple of people, and that’s about it. While there are some that are expanded out, including a group job interview session, these missions feel like they’re more padding than anything else.
However, two major returning features are the clan battles from Yakuza 6 and the cabaret battles from Yakuza 0. These feel largely fleshed out, and the cabaret battles are direct sequels to the battles from Yakuza 0. These side events are truly what sets Kiwami 2 apart from its predecessor.
They’ve also added in a set of missions starring series favorite Goro Majima. His missions, however, are incredibly barebones, almost exclusively being centered around combat. There’s also no experience system and while you can transfer items over to the main game, Majima deserves a lot better than these limited missions. However, his fighting style is a welcome change, especially since you are still largely using the same combat from Yakuza 6 for Kiryu’s missions. Majima’s dance based knife fighting is fast, powerful, and fun.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 still feels like it could have had more work put into it. While Yakuza 6 was fully voice acted, Kiwami 2 reverts to using some voice over work, but mostly text on screen for conversations. Overall, the game still feels far better than the original Kiwami, and, quite frankly most remakes of this generation. However, it still feels like it could be even better if a bit more time was given to remake this game.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
A code for Yakuza Kiwami 2 was provided to Pixel Related for review.