It’s not Shenmue, but Yakuza is somewhere in the vicinity. It’s a bit of a unique beast, mixing elements from Yu Suzuki’s great classic, the ubiquitous GTA, and even parts from Sega’s Streets of Rage. Probably the main thing that it’s inherited is that it’s a very flawed game and has a shitty dub (though not quite that shitty), but still manages to stay enjoyable.
Still, it’s good to have a crime game that isn’t played out entirely in Ebonics. It would have been nice if it was in Japanese being that it’s in Japan and I doubt many Yakuza bosses sound like Michael Madsen and are unable to get through a sentence without saying “motherfucker” (yes, too much swearing can get annoying and lose its potency). In all fairness it’s worlds better than the dub in Shenmue – these people can act and it doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a broom cupboard – but this isn’t GD-ROM anymore: can’t they have put the Japanese dub on there as well?
In any case, while this isn’t going to attain classic status it’s a pretty good game nonetheless. I played a couple of hours this afternoon and found myself enjoying it, and my only complaint was that the names that are thrown at you in the first few hours can get overwhelming and difficult to follow, especially when some aren’t seen in person while still requiring you to keep track of them. The loading times are also a slight annoyance as you get a good few seconds before every fight, and fighting tends to happen a lot.
The combat system is nice and brutal, with plenty of weapons to grab and a growing library of suitably brutal moves. Finishing someone off by smashing their head into a wall is oddly therapeutic. A couple of hours into the game you’ll have to fight your way out of a hostile area and I thoroughly enjoyed it, with enemies surrounding you and affording you the opportunity to knock groups of them flying with a weapon. Or one of them if you can grab them.
So my first impressions are that while this isn’t a classic, it’s still an enjoyable game and worth a look. If I finish it you can probably expect a review.