With the Yakuza collection finally coming to Steam, I was hyped to finally get the chance to play the remaining games of the series. Yakuza 3 is an interesting game in the series, it was the first game to use a 3rd person perspective instead of the top-down one that the first two games had on the PS2. Now, there is a little disclaimer that I should point out early on, that I had mostly negative experience regarding gameplay, however, I should note that I did enjoy Yakuza 3 as a whole.
Pros and Cons
--Solid story that has some emotional moments
-Combat is fun, despite its flaws
-The graphics have aged but still look good in some areas
-Combat has some issues and the progression system is very linear
-Chase Battles lack enjoyment, with one I absolutely hated
-Static would come across the screen in small intervals, mainly in combat
-On rare occasions, whenever I paused the game would freeze
Four months after the events of the previous game, Kazuma Kiryu with his adoptive daughter, Haruka Sawamura is leaving Tokyo. They will be moving to Okinawa where they will run an orphanage. After saying goodbye, Kiryu goes and finds Goro Majima to ask him a favor. He wants him to go back and join the Tojo Clan again to help out with Daigo Dojima, the sixth-chairman, as he is worried that they will not accept him due to his youth. A few months later some power struggles come in and Kiryu’s orphanage is threatened to be bought and turned into a beachfront resort. While in the Tojo Clan, Daigo is shot and is hospitalized, it’s now up to Kiryu to find out who shot Daigo and keep his land from being bought.
I love the story for Yakuza 3, it’s the classic crime drama that you know and love and will be sure to please any fan of the series. There is a new supporting character called Rikiya Shimabukuro who I ended up personally liking as a character. He is loyal to Kiryu and is an invaluable ally to him. Yakuza 3 mainly focuses on the story aspect over the actual gameplay, however, this isn't all bad as its story is the strong point for this game.
Sadly, the gameplay for Yakuza 3 is the weakest point for it. For the most part, it’s rather bland on how it’s shown. You have a heat gauge, when it gets to a certain amount you can perform heat actions which are special moves. These moves will help you in combat when fighting enemies and you can learn more heat moves by taking photos that you can find throughout the overworld. You can also pick up weapons and that will do some extra damage and give you an extra special move that you can pull off, however, combat does come with a few issues.
So the first problem that I had with combat was the fact that the enemies are mostly stagnant, taking hits instead of putting up a real fight, while bosses on the other hand are something else as they frequently block attacks and are a slog to go through. Your special moves don’t really do much to the bosses. This is fine in its own ways, however, I would at least like something to be done rather than me relying on my normal attacks as they actually did more damage.
Next is the progression system that the game uses to level up Kiryu’s abilities to help him fight. The method of upgrading these abilities is really lacking; I don’t feel encouraged to upgrade anything in Kiryu’s arsenal at all.
Then there are the Chase Battles where you have to chase or run away from someone. You will have a Chase Gauge on the lower right of the screen which will show you and the other person’s endurance. Whoever gets their gauge depleted first will lose. Sometimes you will have to avoid objects or your gauge will deplete. This battle mode is just not fun as it lacks engagement and overall just feels bland. The difficulty would spike during these as well. An example is that for one battle I had to run away from pursuing cops where cops were placed seemingly everywhere in the area so it went from being chased by one cop, to suddenly nine. This was more tiring than fun.
I should also mention that this is the first Yakuza game where I could use the keyboard and mouse. The controls actually work really well, it’s just the game is a bit clunky to control, it’s not the keyboard and mouse's fault, mainly the game for how old it is. At some point, I found myself back to using a controller. I do recommend that you play any Yakuza game with a controller if you have one as the experience is much better.
Graphics and Performance
The graphics for Yakuza 3 have aged, however, they do look nice in some areas. Certain locations show off that aging while other locations such as Okinawa (beach area) is really well done. I tested the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, and 16 GB of RAM.
Yakuza 3 runs fine, however, I did come across two issues. There were times where static would come across the screen, mostly happening in fights but also in the overworld occasionally. The next issue was that every time I paused, the game would completely freeze until I unpaused and paused it again.
When it comes to the soundtrack, music is there but nothing stands out to leave any sort of impression. The battle theme was about the only redeeming feature of the soundtrack.
Yakuza 3 is a game that visibly shows it's age, but still delivers in providing an enjoyable experience. That’s the most important factor that it has and I am sure that this game will please any fan of the Yakuza series. The story is well done and even if combat has some issues with it, I still did enjoy it for what it is. I recommend this game to Yakuza fans only, this is not a game to start out with as there are better options out there.