PS3 Review: Yakuza 5

Can Yakuza 5 give you an offer you cannot refuse?

After 3 years of waiting, Yakuza 5 seemed to come out of nowhere during December as a PS3 digital-only title. It’s curious that Sega chose to release it like this instead of simply porting it over to PS4, but maybe they’ll make it Yakuza Collection further down the road. I only started the series from Yakuza 3, but the good thing is that each game is easy to get to grips with and finding out the back story is relatively easy. So it doesnt matter what entry in the series you start with, each is brilliant and open to newcomers and veterans alike.
For the first time in the series’ history, you play as 5 different characters across 5 distinct areas of fictional areas of Japan. If you’ve played a past Yakuza title, gameplay will feel familiar to you…although there have been a number of changes, the switch from exploring to combat is more seamless and the combat’s controls have been more refined than ever, making it a incredibly fulfilling system.

As in previous games, there’s more than just the main story, exploring and combat. There are a horde of mini-games to explore. These can include karaoke, bowling, cooking, golf, darts, pool, fishing, card games, slot machines and of course, pachinko machines as well as many others. There’s such a wide variety of things to do that you will get side-tracked, spending hours and hours just on the mini-games alone. Yakuza 5 is a massive game and one that you will go through more than once, that I can guarantee.
Yakuza 5 actually has a whole new graphics engine, which hasn’t changed previously since Yakuza 3. For a game very late in the PS3 life cycle, Yakuza 5 is very impressive…yes, Japan has had it for an extra 3 years, but it still holds up incredibly well…even against more modern PS4 titles. The next instalment is due for the PS4, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they used this engine and improved it for it.

If you’ve played a past game in the series, then you’ll know that you only get Japanese voice-acting with subtitles…and there’s plenty of it. Each Yakuza game is very dialogue-heavy, which can be a bit off-putting to some who just want to fight and explore, but it does flesh out the story a lot and is heavily influenced by Japanese culture as you would expect. Music is brilliant and crazy at times, but so can the entire game.

The Verdict

Yakuza 5 may have taken an extra 3 years to come to the West, but it was more than worth the wait. It improves the combat, visual engine and still feels incredibly fresh. As a late contender to the PS3 library, you’d more than regret letting it pass you by…and if Yakuza 5 is any indication for the future of the series on PS4, then I for one cannot wait to see what’s next.

Score: 9.0