Know­ing your place


We’ve writ­ten a lot about the Yakuza series in Edge over the years. There is much to love about it: its per­son­al­ity, its whimsy, its seed­i­ness and hu­man drama. Yet the key to the series’ suc­cess, and the core of our re­gard for it, is its sta­bil­ity. Ev­ery game in the series has featured the same core cast of char­ac­ters, deep­en­ing our con­nec­tion to the main play­ers. Cru­cially, all have also been set in the same cor­ner of Tokyo. You come to know the place like the back of your hand, and each new re­lease feels oddly like a home­com­ing. This is a rare sen­sa­tion in videogames – long-run­ning series tend to owe their suc­cess to the ways in which they change, rather than how still they stand – and it’s all the more pow­er­ful for it.

In Project Judge (p38), we once again re­turn to Ka­muro­cho, the mocked-up Tokyo red-light district that pow­ers the Yakuza games. Yet the lat­est game from Toshi­hiro Nagoshi fea­tures an all-new pro­tag­o­nist, and a very dif­fer­ent set-up; you’re not a re­gret­ful ex-mob­ster here, but a lawyer, spurred into ac­tion af­ter the death of a loved one. See­ing Ka­muro­cho through fresh eyes is a strange feel­ing: if a new Yakuza is like putting on a favourite pair of slip­pers, Project Judge feels like wear­ing some­one else’s. It’s an odd sen­sa­tion that’s only pos­si­ble be­cause we know Ka­muro­cho so well.

Cap­com is pulling a sim­i­lar trick with its lav­ish, ground-up re­make of Res­i­dent Evil 2 (p34). While it’s aimed at least in part at play­ers who were too young to play the PS1 game all those years ago, Cap­com clearly hopes that crin­klier fans will pick up the game too – and is mess­ing with them a bit. Level lay­outs have been shuf­fled around, ex­ist­ing rooms re­jigged and en­tire new ones added on, to en­sure that even those who know the orig­i­nal game back­wards are kept on their toes. Fa­mil­iar­ity’s a rare thing in a medium with such itchy feet. But on the oc­ca­sions when we do find it, it in­spires lit­tle in the way of con­tempt.

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