It’s only been a few months since we last stepped in the shiny shoes of the Dragon of Dojima with Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. Now, Sega has delivered yet another helping of seedy underworld goodness with Yakuza Kiwami 2. Following in the footsteps of last year’s Yakuza Kiwami, this sequel breathes fresh life into the second game in the series courtesy with slick, Dragon Engine-powered visuals, re-recorded dialog, new minigames, and more to deliver a remaster so good it’s almost criminal.
Yakuza Kiwami 2’s story takes place on the familiar streets of Kamurocho and Sotenbori as Kiryu once again finds himself caught in the middle of an underworld coup. Set a year after the events of its predecessor, the fifth Tojo Clan chairman Terada is rubbed out in a brazen, broad-daylight assassination. With the Tojo Clan and the Omi alliance on the brink of all-out war, Kiryu finds himself crossing paths with bloodthirsty criminals, shadowy organizations, and grand conspiracies that threaten to shake Tokyo to its core.
The City Never Sleeps
While Kamurocho and Sotenbori are certainly familiar haunts for those who’ve been keeping up with the series in recent years, there’s more to see and do than ever before. Feel like playing a few rounds of golf bingo? You’re in luck! How about siding with Majima to grow his construction conglomerate through violent, RTS-style turf wars? By all means, sonny Jim! How about plunking some yen into Virtual-Freaking-On? Oh, you damn sure can. Oh, and did I mention that incredibly addicting Cabaret club minigame from Yakuza 0 is back and better than ever? Real talk: if you’re a completionist then you’re going to have your work cut out for you with Yakuza Kiwami 2.
Of course, these distractions are just the tip of the iceberg. You can still gorge yourself on succulent sushi at Kamurocho’s finest eateries and drink yourself into a stupor at your favorite Sotenbori watering hole. Classic mini-games like karaoke, mahjong, and the risque gravure photo studio return too to rob you of your hard-earned cash. And if all of this content wasn’t enough, Sega has included a new scenario that you can unlock that puts you in control of the Mad Dog of Shimano himself in a story that bridges the events of Kiwami 1 & 2. Like I said, you might want to keep your calendar clear in September.
Streets of Rage
Sure, traipsing around town is fun and all, but no gangster’s day is complete without some bare-knuckle brawls. And let me tell you, you’re going to be spilling plenty of blood in Yakuza Kiwami 2. Thankfully, Sega has done even more fine-tuning around to keep the combat exciting. For starters, holding down the light or hard attack buttons allows you to focus your energy to unleash guard-crushing heavy hits that can stagger large groups of foes and help you push through the defenses of the hardest gangsters.
Another mechanic I really like is that you can now pick up and pocket weapons enemies drop and stow them in your inventory to use later. As someone who very rarely visits the weapons shop, I really like this feature as it makes it super easy to keep a full arsenal of swords, grenades, pipes, and other goodies for when the going gets tough.
Oh, remember the Extreme Heat Mode that was first introduced in Yakuza 6? Well, it’s back again. This skill is an absolute game changer as it allows you to dish out some serious, rapid-fire punishment when your heat gauge is full with a simple tap of the R2 button. It’s a blast to unleash this ability on a gang of low-level punks and watch their numbers dwindle – and it comes in absolute clutch when going toe-to-toe with a supercharged boss character.
All in all, Sega has done a bang-up job when it comes to Kiwami 2’s fisticuffs. The addition of Extreme Heat Mode is very welcome. And charge attacks offer plenty of new offensive possibilities.
Raising The Bar For Remakes
Last year, Yakuza Kiwami blew away what I’d come to expect from a modern remaster. Now, having spent about 15 hours with its sequel, I am once again floored with what Sega has managed to do here. More than just a spit-shined reimagining of Yakuza 2, Kiwami 2 is shaping up to quite possibly be one of the finest games in the long-running franchise. Be sure to stay tuned for our full review when it goes live on August 23rd.
Those wanting to experience the underworld drama won’t have to wait long. Yakuza Kiwami 2 releases exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on August 28, 2018.
Are you looking forward to diving into the game when it launches later this month? Be sure to let us know in the comments section.