Project Judge takes up the Yakuza man­tle on the other side of the law

Games Master - - Contents -

The Yakuza team re­veals its lat­est project – a tale of a crime-fight­ing, mar­tial-arts lawyer-turned-de­tec­tive.

“Project Judge is go­ing that step fur­ther, tak­ing the Dragon En­gine’s com­bat up a notch”

Tak­ing place within the streets of Ka­muro­cho, the set­ting for the Yakuza games, Ryu Ga Gotoku Stu­dio’s lat­est is very much cut from the same cloth as the beloved se­ries. But whereas the Yakuza se­ries places you on the wrong side of the law (even if lead­ing man Kazuma Kiryu is usu­ally on the side of moral jus­tice), the dev’s new project has you step over that line, and into the shoes of dis­graced ex-de­fence-at­tor­ney­turned-pri­vate-de­tec­tive, Takayuki Yagami. Known sim­ply un­der the work­ing ti­tle Project Judge for its Western re­lease, the game’s called Judge Eyes: Will Of The Death God in Ja­pan, and sees Yagami in­ves­ti­gat­ing a string of grisly mur­ders. While the last Yakuza game fa­mously had Beat Takeshi in a star­ring role, Project Judge’s lead­ing man Yagami is played by Ja­panese su­per­star Takuya Kimura (J-drama star, mem­ber of a pop­u­lar boy band called SMAP, and Howl of Mov­ing Cas­tle fame – there’s not much he hasn’t done). Other pop­u­lar ac­tors play ad­di­tional roles, and col­lab­o­rated closely with the stu­dio on char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion. The game’s open­ing ti­tles mimic those of a Ja­panese tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion, giv­ing the whole thing very strong ‘le­gal drama’ vibes that work won­der­fully.

JP Noire

Sure, it’s by the Yakuza de­vel­oper. But hav­ing gone hands-on with the game, it’s clear Ryu Ga Gotoku Stu­dio is mak­ing ef­forts to step away from just cre­at­ing a re­skinned pure fight-’em-up. Yagami’s an in­ves­ti­ga­tor, and while he may have to get his hands dirty from time to time, he’ll need to be dis­creet when he’s on a case.

Those lock picks you al­ways keep in your pocket will gather dust no longer, and you’ll also have to pro­file sus­pects based on de­scrip­tions, pick over crime scenes, tail peo­ple with­out arous­ing sus­pi­cion, and chase down those who flee. You may even have to don a dis­guise on oc­ca­sion. It changes the pace quite a lot to have more vari­a­tion in the game­play, though ev­ery­thing in our demo is quite sim­ple. We’d love to see it reach Ace At­tor­ney lev­els of tax­ing — as an Ace At­tor­ney x Yakuza game would be one of the all-time dream mash-ups.

Of course, Yagami still has to rough peo­ple up oc­ca­sion­ally. While some of the moves might be called dif­fer­ent things, Yagami’s mar­tial arts are dis­patched with ex­treme prej­u­dice in much the same way as Kiryu’s are in Yakuza 6. You could go from one game to the next, and al­ready know how to fight, which is no bad thing when Yakuza’s fight­ing is just that good. But with the ad­di­tion of things such as style switch­ing, Project Judge is go­ing that step fur­ther, tak­ing the Dragon En­gine’s com­bat up a notch. It looks like Project Judge’s story will be more se­ri­ous and more like a drama than Yakuza, and with Yagami as a lead it’ll hope­fully stand apart from its sib­ling se­ries, de­spite us­ing some of the same as­sets. Our taster ses­sion goes to show that Project Judge is cer­tainly no cold case.

You might have ex­plored Ka­muro­cho be­fore, but never be­fore as Yagami. Will any of our favourite Yakuza char­ac­ters be mak­ing cameos?

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