Yakuza 0

We’re gonna kick arse like it’s 1989, writes Heidi Kemps

Hyper - - EDITORIAL -

Back in the 1980s, Ja­pan looked poised to dom­i­nate the global econ­omy. The coun­try seemed to be un­stop­pable: it dom­i­nated mul­ti­ple in­dus­tries, prop­erty val­ues were sky high, and the stan­dard of liv­ing seemed to be the envy of the world. It was a pe­riod of ex­treme ex­cess, and those who had got­ten rich off of the eco­nomic bub­ble – par­tic­u­larly those in­volved in Ja­pan’s un­der­ground or­ga­nized crime syn­di­cates – were liv­ing large and burn­ing money like it was go­ing out of style.

In other words, it’s the per­fect set­ting for a Yakuza game.

Yakuza 0 takes us all the way back to the end of 1988. Se­ries hero Kazuma Kiryu re­turns, younger and more fresh-faced, but no less a bru­tal badass than he will be­come 15 years down the line. Ka­muro­cho is still the seedy morass of bars, stores, and brightly lit back al­leys filled with du­bi­ous busi­nesses we’ve come to know and love – only now it’s got a thick coat of Ja­pan’s '80s ex­cess lay­ered on top of it. Peo­ple with more money than sense have made Ka­muro­cho a hot­bed of ac­tiv­i­ties, of the le­gal and il­le­gal va­ri­eties, trans­form­ing the area into a pow­der keg ready to ex­plode.

The spark that sets ev­ery­thing alight is the fated first meet­ing of Kiryu and fu­ture ri­val-and-com­pan­ion Goro Ma­jima. The duo are caught up in an in­ci­dent that draws the ire of nu­mer­ous un­der­ground or­gan­i­sa­tions across Ja­pan, and though they come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, the pair needs to piece to­gether the mys­tery of “the empty lot.”

Peo­Ple with more money than SenSe have made Ka­muro­cho a hot­bed of ac­tiv­i­tieS, and it'S ready to ex­Plode

For the first time ever in the fran­chise, re­cur­ring NPC and fan favourite Goro Ma­jima joins Kiryu as a playable char­ac­ter. The duo will explore a fa­mil­iar-yet-dif­fer­ent Ka­muro­cho and Souten­bori, mod­elled as they would have been in the 1980s, com­plete with ar­cades, bowl­ing al­leys, seedy bars, dance halls, and plenty more. As an open-world game, you’re free to take ei­ther Kiryu or Ma­jima wher­ever you’d like and par­take in some of the nu­mer­ous plea­sures that pre-mo­bile-phone Ja­pan has to of­fer, be it drop­ping into the ar­cade to play some of Sega’s big­gest hits from 1988, show­cas­ing your disco skills to wow beau­ti­ful women, or even di­alling a mys­tery woman to try and get her hot and both­ered over the phone. (If you want to be more, ahem, pro­fes­sional, there’s also a real es­tate man­age­ment mini-game, too.) Of course, it’s not all fun and games, even with Ja­pan at its eco­nomic apex. There are plenty of peo­ple out to rough up Kiryu and Ma­jima, rang­ing from drunken street punks to high-rank­ing or­gan­ised crime elite. You’ll need to com­bat your en­e­mies through the se­ries’ trade­mark bru­tal-yet-stylish street bat­tles, where your char­ac­ters will have to lay a beat­ing down on foes us­ing mar­tial arts skills, weapons and ob­jects lifted off the street, and en­vi­ron­men­tal el­e­ments. There’s noth­ing quite as sat­is­fy­ing as pound­ing an up­pity punk with his own bike, then con­fronting his an­noy­ing buddy by slam­ming a traf­fic cone on his head and toss­ing his body like a rag­doll against an elec­tric store­front sign. As you progress through the game, your arse­nal of moves and weaponry in­creases, as well, so fight­ing al­ways keeps on feel­ing fresh.

Yakuza 0 is due to hit the PlayS­ta­tion 4 some­time in 2017. Get your wooden swords ready, be­cause once this game rolls into stores, the Heat is on.

Moon­light­ing as a toy sales­man wasn't re­ally pay­ing o ... Play­ing a game within a game. How de­light­fully meta of Sega!

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