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Big Trouble in Little Kamurocho

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    Yakuza 0

    Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding

    Big Trouble in Little Kamurocho

    It’s rare that a game manages to sneak up on me and captivate me through laughter, suspense, and fist pumping triumph. Every once in a while, you come across these hidden gems and want to cast a spotlight for the whole world to see. This is exactly what Yakuza 0 managed to do me through its captivating narrative, and it charm filled Tokyo inspired setting.

    The story of Yakuza 0 is set split between regular series protagonist Kiryu Kazuma and the series regular agent of chaos Goro Majima. Splitting the main story between these two characters make for some interesting moments that have plot threads and characters criss cross between the two protagonist’s paths in a Tarantino-esque fashion. Each story is a genuinely intriguing crime drama in its own right filled with twist and turns that will leave the player constantly guessing what’s going to be around the next street corner. Both characters are stoic but also brash which is exuded through the powerful voice work of both protagonists. You get the sense that even though both men have chosen paths filled with violence, each has a heart of gold. Which, leaves you rooting for both to succeed on their quest. However, it is easy to say that Majima steals the show with every bit of screen time he has. The fact that you get two great stories here other than just one, does nothing but give you satisfaction that you got this game at a steal.

    This great story is even further accented through its open world. Just like the narrative you get not only one, but two cities to explore with Kamurocho and Sotenbori. While these towns may not hold up with most current open worlds in terms of size, their glitzy neon soaked streets are filled with much more charm than their peers. Karaoke bars, discos, and arcades are just a few of the many things you can do in each city. I frequently found myself getting distracted in between story missions by the numerous amounts of side stories in the game. The side stories were memorable through the quirky characters that they introduced, and most of these stories are diametrically opposed in tone to the main story. Whether it was taking part in dance battles in the local disco club, or helping rescue a woman’s daughter from a fraudulent cult, I never found myself board with the activities that were offered to me during my playtime. Instead the exact opposite happened. I found myself captured by the magic of the city, sometimes forgetting there was a great narrative that I needed to get back to. This only speaks to the great design in their open world.

    One the great added things to do in Yakuza is managing a real estate business with Kiryu which is pretty straight forward, but offers a humorous tale of taking over Kamurocho one business at time by purchasing them and assigning managers to the district that those businesses reside in in order to accumulate cash. The major side activity for Majima is running your own cabaret club, and competing against others in a humorous tale of conquering Sotenbori’s nightlife. The great thing about Majima’s cabaret club is that it is a small game within the bigger game. It involves dressing up different cabaret hostesses in order to change their stats around. This allows to fit the desires of the guest that show up and matching the girls with the appropriate patron. Both of these side activities are not only fun, but will lead you to mass influxes of cash to use as you see fit.

    Combat in the game is laid out as your pretty typical third person brawler. It is split up between three different fighting styles. The standard brawler style that consist of average attacks and allows you to grab opponents and use charged up ultimate attacks as if you’re in a bar room brawl. The fast paced rush mode that allows you to dash around and quickly attack like a boxer, and the lumbering beast style that focuses on grabbing objects around you to melee your opponents with. All the attacks are over the top and involve brutal smashing takedowns that you can’t help but smile as your pummeling through your enemies. However, combat does begin to feel stale as you watch the same five different fighting animations with no able to mix up combos throughout the entirety of the game.

    Overall Yakuza 0 is a game that is easy to miss, but upon closer inspection you’ll find that it is an extremely unique experience. Its serious crime noir story pairs nicely with its over the top side characters. This is a world that you will love to stroll around in and explore, and a story that will keep you glued to the controller until you see the credits role.

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