Thursday, March 3, 2011

Blog Post: My thoughts on the Yakuza 4 demo

The day's almost upon us! On March 15th Yakuza 4 will hit North American retailers, and Sega's put the demo up on PSN for our downloading pleasure. While the demo itself is not much to get too excited about, it was enough to remind me how awesome this series' combat system is.
The demo consists of 4 brawls. With no context whatsoever, you're thrown into each fight; upon the completion of each fight, the demo abruptly cuts to another character who then fights a different group of enemies in another location.

I found Kazuma and the 1st character you get to control (sorry, I forgot his name) to be the most fun to fight as, their move sets fun and over the top compared to the slightly more realistic style of the other two. But nobody's a slouch and it seems that there will be a lot of fun to be had with each one of them. I'm not sure if it was just for the demo or not, but I would receive Stamina XX health recovery items after I defeated enemies, which I don't remember happening in other Yakuza games. Hopefully this is just a feature for the demo, as I feel like it would make the final product too easy.

The visuals look ever so slightly improved from Yakuza 3, there's some pretty cool reflective stuff going on in one of the brawls that took place on a rainy Kamurocho street, but clearly this won't be a game that pushes the PS3 hardware in any way. It's one of those demonstrations of the growing difference between the mentality of Japanese game development vs its Western counterpart....big franchises in the West usually strive for top-notch visuals, the Yakuza series hasn't bothered.

What I do like though is the variety in the battle locations. We got a sunset rooftop battle, we got two fights on Kamurocho streets, and an industrial-looking area. The combat system's as fun as ever, complete with over the top finishing moves and all the great stuff we know and love from this series.

Overally it's an okay demo. Four fights with no context one after the other make for a fun, if incomplete, demo experience. (A trailer or a cutscene after the fights would have been nice.) That said, at least we don't have long to wait until the real thing. Game comes out on March 15, buy it!

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