Description official description
One year has passed since Kazuma Kiryu, "yakuza with the heart of gold", defeated his biggest adversary in the previous game. Despite this victory, Kazuma has lost more than he had ever imagined.
But events from the past continue to haunt him. A man he had admired so much, who was like a father to him, has revealed a terrible secret before he died. It's time for Kazuma to solve the mystery once and for all. Caught in the eternal fight between Kantou and Kansai, the Eastern and the Western organized crime groups of Japan, he soon realizes that there are other powers on the stage, including a mysterious Korean organization that seems to be connected somehow to his past.
The sequel to Yakuza continues the story from the previous game, featuring many recurrent characters. The main gameplay idea also remains the same - on-foot exploration of urban environments, hand-to-hand fighting, and role-playing elements, somewhat similar to the kind of gameplay that was introduced in Shenmue games. The sequel features some technical improvements, such as the ability to rotate the camera during the fights. It also contains more side missions and mini-games, ranging from playing pool and mahjong to running a club and dating women.
- 龍が如く 2 - Japanese spelling
Credits (PlayStation 2 version)
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Average score: 80% (based on 34 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 16 ratings with 1 reviews)
Yakuza 2 is undoubtedly a good sequel. It's been a couple of years since we last saw Kiryu Kazuma, "yakuza with the heart of gold", in a game that combined hand-to-hand combat with running around through the busy streets of a modern Japanese city. Everything that was fun in the first game is still here, and multiplied. Instead of one city district there are now two. There are more special moves - watch Kazuma perform even more devastating Heat attacks and even cooler weapon techniques. There are also more weapons, including for example shotguns - which, unlike pistols, have good durability and are actually useful. Random battles are less frequent, easier to avoid, and are generally less annoying than in the first game. Boss battles are dynamic, and some of them feature moderately tasteful quick-time events. Like in the first game, combat is fun. Of course, the best part of it is the possibility to pick up almost everything and use it as a weapon. Nothing can compare to grabbing a neon sign and then wearing it on a guy's neck. Naturally, there are also more mini-games.
In the first Yakuza there were several tedious missions that had nothing or little to do with the story. I was glad to discover that the developers corrected this issue in the sequel. With a few exceptions, the missions of Yakuza 2 feel justified and closely connected to the plot. No more gathering money for a stupid membership card or aimlessly running around the city on yet another "Find Haruka!" assignment.
The story of Yakuza 2 is clearly better thought-out, with more believable characters than in the first one, and more powerful plot twists. Plus, a big "thank you" goes to the localization team. Unlike the first game, the English version of this game has original Japanese voices with English subtitles. Quite frankly, the English translation and voiceovers of the first Yakuza ruined whatever was good in that game. The dialogues were corny, the voices mediocre; but even if they were better, modern-day Japanese people speaking with each other in English is absurd.
It's a pity that Yakuza 2 doesn't correct one of the most glaring flaws of the original: the inability to rotate the camera in most locations, particularly while roaming the city. This is one issue I wish they'd have addressed. It is quite annoying to run in this beautiful city without being able to look at it properly. They probably didn't have the budget to develop a new engine, but the graphics begin to show their age. Also, even though they handled the random generator better than in the first game, I'd prefer not to be bothered by those battles at all while I'm exploring the city.
The game's (and the entire series') main problem, however, is its gameplay concept. The value of gameplay is measured mostly by the quality of its main activity, i.e. the thing you do most when playing the game. In GTA, for example, it's the driving - and it's so fun in itself that it lays a solid foundation for other things to experiment with. In Yakuza games there is no such foundation. Its main activity is walking through a largely non-interactive world - something that is very hard to enjoy on its own. Exploration is always fun, but the game's tiny and uneventful world is not rewarding enough to explore. Like in so many other Japanese games, gameplay elements here are disjointed, taken out of context. Battles are randomly triggered and have no relation at all to the exploration, whisking you away and into an artificial separate arena, where you participate in a very easy arcade game. It's all about those little gimmicks, mini-games and other diversions that try to cover up for lack of substance.
The storyline is complex, but in a soap opera-like way. It hoards plot mysteries and then releases the twists with such nonchalance that we can't help but discern the mechanics behind them. In other words, a lot of this stuff is too obviously calculated, designed to shock us rather than truly coming from the heart. The narrative is overblown and melodramatic in that familiar Japanese way, where every plot point is overly explained and every emotion has to be rubbed into your face. No, it's by far not as bad as Metal Gear Solid, but it attempts to cause the same harm: constantly interrupt the flow of the gameplay with long-winded cutscenes, take away control from the player in what is supposed to be an interactive medium.
The Bottom Line
Yakuza 2 is, essentially, an improved version of the first game - if you don't have time for both, this one trumps its predecessor in every possible aspect. Bigger world, better pacing, more intriguing story, and more polished gameplay make this game the Vice City to its GTA III. That said, the above comparison should remind us of the weakness of this entire series: lack of a truly fulfilling, enjoyable main gameplay component, a coherent design concept that would tie together mini-games and harmless brawls.
PlayStation 2 · by Unicorn Lynx (181794) · 2016
1001 Video Games
Yakuza 2 appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
If the player begins Yakuza 2 with a save from the first Yakuza game on their memory card, they will have gifts from Haruka inside their item box. These include healing items and two spirit-raising equipment items (Haruka's Charm and Haruka's Necklace). The player gets access to their first item box in Chapter 3.
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Game added by Unicorn Lynx.
Game added March 13, 2008. Last modified January 28, 2024.