Yakuza series has seen a resurgence lately and it is now not just limited to PlayStation but the series has expanded into a multiplatform role. Yakuza games have released for the PC and are also coming soon to the Xbox One. This has opened the series to more fans potentially increasing its appeal. This is fantastic to witness as a fan because these games deserve to be played by many regardless of the platform.
While Sega opted to remake the first two Yakuza games with a brand new engine, because they were originally developed for the PS2, they decided to go with a different approach for the next three games. These were originally released for the PS3 and as such, they don’t feel dated compared to their predecessors. Sega has settled on remastering these games instead of doing a full remake, and it is not a bad idea at all.
The Yakuza Remastered Collection contains Yakuza 3, 4 and 5. These games were followed by Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, which concluded Kazuma Kiryu’s saga. All of these games are essential to enjoy the complete Yakuza experience that begins with the prequel, Yakuza 0 and follows up with six more games. All of these are now available to play on a single platform, which in this case is the PS4. If you haven’t played any of the Yakuza games, there is no better time than now to jump into the series.
The Yakuza Remastered Collections doesn’t offer a visual jump from the PS3 version, but it does improve the frame rate dramatically, to such extent that it greatly enhances the experience. The visual upgrade is limited to a resolution bump from 720p to 1080p, but the frame rate has also doubled, from 30 to 60 fps, leading to better controller response time. For a series like Yakuza where combat is action-based, this is an important improvement that helps improve the user experience.
The Yakuza Remastered Collection is also a solid choice for those who want to experience the series again even if they have already played these games on PS3. The English localization has been refreshed and this version now closely resembles the original Japanese release. Sega had a lot of trouble localizing the earlier Yakuza games so this collection appears to have taken care of most of the issues. It is a more polished localization that fits in with the modern Yakuza games.
Out of the three games, Yakuza 3 has aged the worst although it is still not that bad. If you are playing it after ending Kiwami 2, the story will continue directly from the ending. The third game might not offer the most content but it has an enjoyable story nonetheless. It sees Kiryu and his adopted daughter Haruka, who decide to move to a different place and run the Sunshine Orphanage. The story here is themed differently from the rest of the games switching gears between multiple locations including a return to the streets of Kamurocho.
Yakuza 4 is the first entry in the series to introduce multiplayer playable characters. It feels more expansive and open than its predecessor. Yakuza 4 also feels like a stepping stone for future Yakuza games. Combat has been revamped for the sequel to focus on heat actions so it appears dynamic. The multiple playable characters come with their flavor of combat that helps give the gameplay longevity. There is also an assortment of playable side stories that are fun to complete.
It is easy to think that Yakuza 4 might remain the most ambitious offering but this honor belongs to Yakuza 5. The sequel adds even more playable characters, some of which return from Yakuza 4, and ups the ante on almost every aspect of the game. There are more locations to explore, side stories to attempt, and mini-games to complete in the sequel. It remains one of the most ambitious Yakuza games developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku studio.
While this collection gives the fans a chance to experience the saga chronicling the life of Dragon of Dojima, Kazuma Kiryu, it still doesn’t include every game. Two omissions that are not necessary to complete the collection but would have been welcome are Yakuza Dead Souls and Yakuza Kenzan. These were spin-offs based on the Yakuza IP, each tackling a different period or subject matter. These are unfortunately only playable on the PS3 with one of them lacking any official English localization.
Keeping this aside, The Yakuza Remastered Collection is one hell of a ride. This collection offers three meaty games that can take hundreds of hours to complete. All of these have unique playable characters, enjoyable stories, and fun optional content. For a fan of the series, this collection is a dream come true and with Sega moving to a different protagonist with Yakuza 7, this is a great send-off for Kazuma Kiryu.