Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of Yakuza 1 for the PlayStation 2, a Japanese action-adventure game. You play as Kazuma Kiryu, a tough ex-yakuza with a heart of gold who gets swept back into Tokyo's seedy underworld when a powerful crime syndicate's ten billion yen goes missing.
Pro Compelling story
Yakuza Kiwami tells the story of Kiryu getting dismissed from the yakuza, only to get swept right back into their world once his loved ones are in trouble. As he tries to find out what happened to his love interest, Yumi, he meets Haruka, and learns to care for her as if she were his own daughter. While protecting Haruka from the yakuza who target her, Kiryu discovers more about how she and Yumi are both connected to a larger crime of ten billion yen that's gone missing from the crime syndicate, all the while his best friend Nishiki pulls strings from the shadows.
Overall, the story leans successfully on its memorable characters and Kiryu's attachments to them. Finding out what happened to the missing ten billion yen also includes figuring out why Nishiki went down such a dark path, finding Yumi, and keeping Haruka safe. It's compelling to play through the game and discover these answers while also getting to know the characters more along the way.
Pro New cutscenes add more depth to the main antagonist
In the original Yakuza 1, Nishiki's change from Kiryu's best friend to a cold-hearted villain didn't feel natural, but new scenes in Yakuza Kiwami flesh out this transformation. The cutscenes give more context and background on why Nishiki made such a drastic change, portraying him in a sympathetic light that helps the player understand him more. It helps a lot to see his sorrows and his struggles against his own subordinates in the yakuza who disrespect him, as well as his resentment toward his superiors who think he'll never live up to Kiryu.
Pro Great amount of side content
In between story missions, Kiryu is mostly free to run around the city and engage in optional side quests or mini games. Side quests in Yakuza Kiwami mostly deal with various shady characters trying to scam Kiryu out of his money, like a supposed loan collector who calls his cell phone and demands that he pay up or get beaten up, and a thuggish guy collecting toll money on a street and also threatening to fight Kiryu if he doesn't pay. Mini games can be found in the SEGA arcades, like the classic UFO catcher, or elsewhere at the mahjong parlor, the shogi building, the karaoke parlor and much more.
Pro Memorable cast of characters
You'll encounter a diverse batch of characters in Yakuza Kiwami, like Kiryu's childhood friend Nishiki who goes down a dark path that changes him, creating an intriguing drama throughout the story. There's also Haruka, a determined young girl who is looking for her mother, and ends up forming a strong bond with Kiryu as he tries to protect her from the yakuza who want to harm her. Goro Majima, one of the antagonists, is a foil to Kiryu in how wild and unhinged he is, often throwing a wrench into the game's story with his over-the-top antics when you least expect them, such as driving a truck straight through a building.
It's easy to grow attached to the cast in Yakuza Kiwami and want to follow their stories throughout the rest of the games in the series. For players who jumped into the franchise with Yakuza 0, they'll have even more backstory on these characters and their struggles in this installment.
Con Majima Everywhere system is annoying
The Majima Everywhere system features the fan favorite character Goro Majima who sneaks up on Kiryu around the city and challenges him to random fights. It's an amusing idea at first, with Majima hiding in giant cones or manholes and popping out to surprise the player. But sometimes these encounters are too frequent, and they can go on for too long as Majima gains more health.
Con Graphics aren't impressive
Yakuza Kiwami looks like it could have been a PS3 game with weak textures, stiff character animations outside of cutscenes, and too many repeat copies of NPCs around the city. Invisible walls also block off the city's boundaries. Thankfully the characters and facial animations look great during story scenes, helping to make up for the poor visuals elsewhere.
Con Boss battles are cheap
Getting stunlocked during boss battles is all too common in Yakuza Kiwami, like when the enemy uses a weapon to constantly hit you over and over. There's also an infamous battle against two gang leaders who enjoy knocking Kiryu to the ground again and again, leaving little room for recovering or dodging. Even if you love the game's story, these annoying fights could be a deal-breaker, especially on harder difficulties.