Review – Yakuza Kiwami 2

Whenever a publisher decides to release one game from the same franchise every 6 months, you usually get sick of it after the second or third iteration in a row. That can’t be said about Sega and its Yakuza series. The more Yakuza games they release, the more I enjoy them and the more I want. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is their fourth release over a two-year span. A remake of the criminally overlooked Playstation 2 title, this is Sega’s first remake using the Dragon engine, initially used in Yakuza 6. For the fourth time in a row, Sega has released one heck of a hit.

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Best dad since 2005.

Yakuza Kiwami 2 takes place a year after the events of the first Kiwami remake. Heroic mobster and favorite gaming dad, Kazuma Kiryu, is busy raising his adopted daughter, Haruka, at the Sunshine Orphanage when an assassination forces him to once again dive into the ranks of the Tojo yakuza clan and solve all the chaos going on, with a plot involving kidnappings, murders, immigration issues, and the best villain and rival to Kiryu the series has ever offered.

Unlike previous games, in which the main villain is introduced much later into the plot, Ryuji Goda is introduced right from the start and you proceed to despise his oxygenated guts right from the get-go, cherishing every single opportunity you have to shove your knuckles into his temple. Just like every other Yakuza game, however, you’ll be constantly introduced to a wide assortment of despicable villains you’ll gladly volunteer to punch whenever possible.

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We will never stop loving Majima!

As previously stated, Yakuza Kiwami 2 uses the same engine as Yakuza 6. That means the game runs at a slower framerate and is prone to a few hiccups every now and then due to the insane amount of neon signs and NPCs walking around the map at once. The combat and the exploration aren’t as fast-paced as Yakuza 0, but the towns you have to explore are extremely vivid and full of detail. Kiwami 2 not only features good ol’ Kamurocho, but also brings back the Osaka district of Sotenbori (Yakuza 0 players will ‘member) for you to explore and wreak havoc. Kiwami 2 fixes one of my gripes with Yakuza 6 by having two entire districts full of minigames and sidequests to enjoy, unlike the story-heavy Hiroshima neighborhood that had little to do.

The combat system is almost the same seen in Yakuza 6. It’s a simplified version of the combat seen in the older games, with only one fighting style and less combos. I felt the combat was a bit faster this time around, though. I also appreciate the increased focus in using equipment and weapons, diversifying the previously stale fighting system a little bit at the very least. Even if fighting delinquents felt better this time around, the instant fighting transitions from Yakuza 6 have been toned down, as you can notice the game loading the combat gameplay every time you meet someone you’re bound to scar for life.

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I just can’t drink my scotch in peace…

Besides the satisfying combat, everything else is still rock-solid like a Yakuza game should be. The amount of minigames is immense, ranging from managing a girls’ cabaret club to playing Virtua Fighter and Virtual-On at a Sega arcade parlor. The ever-so-ridiculous but ever-so-adorable karaoke is back and as addictive as ever. I can’t reiterate how much I’d love for Sega to release a karaoke-focused Yakuza spinoff someday. The sidequests are still a dime a dozen and still as ridiculous as you’d expect. Even though they are completely nonsensical in tone when compared to the main game’s serious storyline, I can’t help but appreciate their sheer stupidity.

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I feel bad for these eight guys…

The main addition to this remake isn’t exactly featured in the main story, however. Yakuza Kiwami 2 features an additional story mode focused on everybody’s favorite one-eyed psychopath: Majima is back, baby. You can unlock a Majima-centered story mode by completing chapters in the main game and it’s all directly tied into Kiwami 2‘s main plot. Playing as Majima was easily the best part of Yakuza 0, so you can already imagine how much I enjoyed stepping once again into that maniac’s shoes for some wacky fights.

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Just casually carrying my halberd around…

Yakuza Kiwami 2 is indeed more of the same, but when more of the same means a well-written lengthy story, cinema-quality voice acting, satisfying combat, plus tons of sidequests and minigames, is there any reason to complain? This is one of my favorite Yakuza games so far, fixing some technical issues from Yakuza 6 while introducing more features and smile-inducing fanservice. Kamurocho is back, and it’s as enjoyable as ever! This time around, you can even punch a tiger in the face. You read it right!


Graphics: 8.0

Uses the same graphical engine seen in Yakuza 6, meaning it boasts an insane amount of detail at the cost of having framerate hiccups.

Gameplay: 8.0

The combat felt a bit faster than Yakuza 6‘s counterpart and the bigger emphasis on equipment and weapons is more than welcome. Combat transitions are slower this time around.

Sound: 10

Same old Yakuza: cinema-quality voice acting, an excellent upbeat soundtrack, and a wide array of dumb but adorable karaoke tunes you can’t help but fall in love with.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Between the two cities to explore, Majima’s return, minigames, sidequests and magnificent story, there’s a lot to keep you in busy in Kiwami 2, even if the combat is still not as fun as the first Kiwami.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Yakuza Kiwami 2 is available now on PS4.