why is everyone acting like GTA is the Anti-Christ?
anyways, while i'm re-reading this thread... Drive-bys would be completely insane to add.
I do like the idea of street races...if done right. I would gladly give up the foot chases in place of car races and street races...but i dont see Kazuma doing any of those things...but a new character could.
I remember the driving gun fight in Yakuza 1 (or was it 2). If it was something like that, with far better mechanics, between city's once then you just take a cab every other time I'd be fine with that.
The idea of driving between cities or stealing cars really puts me off. If I wanted to play a game like that I'd play GTA or Saints Row.
While I respect your desire for expanded features, driving mechanics wouldn't fit the Yakuza thematic. Like modern samurai (or sometimes just sketchy businessmen), most yakuza handle their matters in person. Street racing, drive-by shootings, high-speed gunfights, carjacking, etc. really isn't their style. In actuality, real-life yakuza have made an art out of operating just within the limitations of the law, although the Yakuza games obviously exaggerate the violent aspects of yakuza conduct. Also, much like Russian or Italian mafia bosses, the high-ranking yakuza typically depend on a driver to take them from place to place, and since yakuza "families" are extremely territorial, there is rarely any reason to travel long distances. Trying to get around Tokyo or Osaka in a personal vehicle is a huge headache anyway. My Japanese in-laws (in Nagoya) usually just walk everywhere, despite the fact that my father-in-law is a chairman with a large industrial corporation and could probably afford a driver. And before anyone asks, no, I am not insinuating that my father-in-law is yakuza.
In terms of video game design, implementing vehicle mechanics would not only detract from Yakuza's focus on hand-to-hand combat, but it would also risk unhealthy comparisons to Grand Theft Auto, from reviewers and gamers alike. Whether you like GTA or not, I think we can all agree that Yakuza has done well to separate itself from it. Yakuza fans hate it when their game gets called the "Japanese GTA".
Yakuza 5 will definitely implement some method of travelling between cities, unless character stories are somehow confined to separate locales, but I doubt that. Still, I don't think a full driving mechanic would be used for this, and it will more than likely involve a menu option or a static vehicle and a cutscene / loading screen. Helicopters may also be used in a similar way.
I would LOVE driving in Yakuza! I agree with what Laststar said about San Andreas, they don't literally have to make the game sizable to Japan, they can fictionalize the distances and whatnot. I can just imagine all the awesome concept/Japanese model cars that can be drivable! While we're at it, how about motorbikes? I'd love to see Kazuma dirtbiking down mountains like in GTA lmao