I loved the fact that you could play as four characters in Yakuza 4, Yakuza 5 improves on that by bringing in a fifth playable character. This is the most ambitious title in the mainline series. There is a lot of stuff to do with five locations to explore with many sub-stories and a gripping main story that makes you want more.
Pros and Cons
-The classic crime drama story that we all know and love
-Five characters to play as, with their own special play styles
-Each character has a unique side-story to them
-An awesome soundtrack that is great to listen to
-Good looking graphics that fit each area
-There are some story elements that either did not fit in or made no sense
-Lacks any real challenge, even easier than previous titles in the series
-Tatsuo Shinada is a little clunky to play
The story for Yakuza 5 will take place in five different segments. Each part will have a different character to play as with each character having their own unique fighting style. There are returning characters to play as, Kazuma Kiryu, Taiga Saejima, and Shun Akiyama, and also two new characters, Haruka Sawamura, and newcomer Tatsuo Shinada.
All five of these characters have a dream or goal that they are focused on achieving, and these aspirations will make their paths cross to one another. As you progress through the story you will discover that all the characters do share a few things in common even if their goals are different.
I will say the story is a blast to go through. I enjoyed all of the characters that you meet throughout, my favorite being Koichi Takasugi, a loan shark. Despite coming off as hard-headed, he has a soft spot deep down inside and he is a character that I wish got more time to shine.
Although the story for Yakuza 5 is great, it’s not perfect, as some story elements do not make sense. I enjoyed Haruka’s story for example, but half of it did not really matter towards the plot of the game or towards the other characters until about halfway through. I believe they took this approach to help the characters develop and become likable, but I feel as though this might be one of the weaker parts of the game in how they handled this.
The gameplay is relatively the same as the previous entries. Combat is the same and the characters function really well. Each character has their own fighting style and they play differently from one another. There is a new Special Technique that can be performed and a sub-story for each character that is quite fun to complete.
The only issue I have with the gameplay is that it’s rather simple to beat, even easier than Yakuza 4 in my eyes. I did get knocked out a few times but could just sweep the fight as soon as I was back in. Overall the combat is fun, but does lack a challenge making it the easiest game in the series.
Kazuma Kiryu’s red heat has been removed but he has the Red Dragon spirit, which makes him invincible and will block attacks from enemies automatically. He plays mostly the same from the previous entries with a few new tricks up his sleeve, overall, Kiryu is fun to play as, as always.
Kiryu’s special sub-story is taxi driving where he can race people or pick up clients and bring them to certain locations.
Taiga Saejima attacks have more recoil that can send enemies flying much higher than usual. His health bar is much bigger than it was in Yakuza 4 and covers almost the whole screen. However, his heat gauge is still small and is slow like usual. Saejima has a special mode called Savage Tiger’s Experience, where he will grab enemies and throw them around like a rag doll.
His special substory is Hunter and Killer where he hunts animals.
Haruka Sawamura plays completely differently from everyone. Instead of combat, she will do idol singing where you will have to press corresponding buttons to get points and fans.
Then we have dance battles in which you do the same thing but have four panels where the buttons are displayed. I recommend using the D-pad on the controller when doing these as the joystick will sometimes register the wrong placement of the panel you are on. Despite what I said about Haruka’s story, her gameplay is actually rather fun and I enjoyed the fresh take.
Shun Akiyama plays the same as he did in Yakuza 4 and is still my favorite to play as. He does not offer anything new in terms of gameplay and still uses kicks to attack his enemies. Sadly, he does not have a special substory, but can do some dance battles though.
Akiyama has a special ability called Airstrike where he defies gravity and floats enemies in the air with a series of kicks.
Tatsuo Shinda fighting is based on clinch-fighting and grappling which makes him unique from the other playable characters. Shinda was fun to play, but he may feel clunky to some people as his attack patterns are a little weird, and he relies on weapons to finish the job on occasions. I should mention that Shinda will not pick up baseball bats as a weapon due to his past of being a Baseball player and as he respects the sport.
He also has a special move called My Meteor Tackle where he will tackle enemies into walls.
The soundtrack for Yakuza 5 is great and really improved from what the previous entry had. My personal favorites would have to be What a FUNKASTIC hit, Hailstorm, and Affected Flight. There are a few others that were really good but those three stuck out to me the most.
Graphics and Performance
Yakuza 5 looks really good, I loved how the areas were presented with lighting and environmental details where each area felt like a new place in the game that I have never been to before. In terms of performance, I came across no issues either, it ran at 60 FPS with no problem. I tested the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, with 16GB of RAM.
If you love the Yakuza series, then Yakuza 5 is a must-have! There is so much side content to do and I recommend doing a few to avoid burnout as that can happen from personal experience. I highly recommend this game for all the Yakuza fans, especially if you enjoyed the previous entry.