The last few years have been very kind to Yakuza fans thanks to Sega bringing so many of them over to the west. PlayStation players have gotten to experience all of these great titles but until earlier this year Xbox players were left wondering if the franchise would ever come to their platform. That finally happened and to date both Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami have come out on Xbox One. If you finished those and have been craving more Kiryu then wait no more as Yakuza Kiwami 2 is now out on Xbox One and Xbox Game Pass. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the second entry in the franchise that was originally released in 2006 but now rebuilt on the Dragon Engine that was used in Yakuza 6. The result of that mix of old and new is nothing short of fantastic.
As I said Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a full-on remake of Yakuza 2 now using the Dragon Engine that was first used to build Yakuza 6. That means not only does Yakuza Kiwami 2 look fantastic but it also plays better than ever thanks to an improved combat system. When I entered combat, everything just felt like it was faster and more responsive. You have a wide variety of moves as usual including the ability to parry, charge your punches and kicks, and there are awesome and satisfying slow motion moments too.
Just like you could back in the original game you can now buy and equip various weapons as well adding even more layers onto the combat system and giving you more options. Up to three can be had at a time and they will break causing you to either get rid of them or repair them. Want more new things to try out on enemy gang members? Buy and try out some of the new heat moves that have been added to this installment. These are special finishing moves that Kiryu can perform that add even more options for you like slamming a bike on someone, throwing them into a lamppost, or crushing their head into a wall. There are even moves featuring allies that you help out on side missions in the game and these attacks can be quite hilarious. When it comes to boss fights they now have multiple health bars instead of the longer single health bar that they had in Yakuza 6. Every fight you win in the game nets you some XP and cash that can be used to upgrade Kiryu’s skills and stats allowing you to get stronger as the game goes on.
Yakuza games always have tons of content to keep you playing and Kiwami 2 is no exception. Whether you want to indulge in some fun mini-games or delve into the various interesting side stories you can easily spend dozens of additional hours here outside of the main story. Create A Clan returns from Yakuza 6 allowing you to train and customize your own clan. You can then take them into battles against real life Japanese pro-wrestlers which was interesting to say the least.
The Cabaret Club from Yakuza 0 is also in the game and this is where Kiryu can go to help them make money and compete in the Cabaret Club Gran Prix. You can talk with clients, go out on dates, and spend time customizing the outfits of the hostesses. There’s plenty more activities as well like Bouncer missions, an underground fight club, Golf, and actual arcade games like Virtua Fighter 2 that you can play and the return of the fun claw machine. You can go to restaurants and feed Kiryu, get drunk at bars and so much more. There’s even a Urinal mini game which is hilarious but that’s enough said about that. Few franchises make you feel like you are in a living world like the Yakuza franchise.
One of my favorite additional parts of the game is a new side story on the main menu where you get to play as Goro Majima. It’s set between Kiwami 1 and 2 and helps to flesh out his character more. It’s a great side story that unfortunately doesn’t last long enough as it’s only three chapters long. As far as the main story goes it’s probably one of my favorites in the franchise in some time. If you didn’t play Yakuza 0 or Kiwami 1 don’t worry either as the game does a great job recapping the events of those games. I came to like Kiryu even more in this game as I saw him struggle at times and find romance in other moments. This is the same strong, badass Kiryu as ever but getting to see these other sides of him helped me like the character that much more. The other characters in the game are great too like Kaoru Sayama, who Kiryu has an interesting relationship with, and the villain Ryuji Goda is a standout as well. Ryuji isn’t some one-dimensional villain but rather has a lot of layers to him that are peeled back over the course of the game. The way he is written really makes him one of the more memorable villains in the franchise.
The Dragon Engine has done wonders for this original PS2 game. Even though this game originally came out a couple years ago it still is one of the more visually impressive games of this generation. Things like the great character models and outstanding environments full of detail are just part of what makes that so. What is even more impressive is the lack of load times in this game which again is thanks to that Dragon Engine. The only thing I’m a little disappointed by is that the game has no Xbox One X support. The audio is great too with excellent voice acting, a great soundtrack, and great singing from our man Kiryu himself. In terms of playtime you can probably get through the main story in around 20 hours or so but if you want to complete all the side stories, activities, or get all of the achievements then you’ll be spending dozens of hours more in this world.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 has probably the best story out of the last few entries and easily the best villain. It’s full of fun and varied side activities around every corner that will keep you entertained and the brutal combat system has never felt better thanks to some new improvements. If you haven’t played this game yet and you own an Xbox One then get on it because the Dragon of Dojima has once again delivered a fantastic performance.
*Yakuza Kiwami 2 is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Reviewed on a Xbox One X. Review copy provided by Sega.
Yakuza Kiwami 2$19.99
- Yakuza 2 Rebuilt on the Dragon Engine Looks Fantastic
- Great Main Story and Side Stories
- Tons of Fun Side Activities to Play
- Combat System is Endlessly Enjoyable
- Excellent voice acting and enjoyable soundtrack
- I Wish the Majima Side Story was Longer
- No Xbox One X Improvements