Yakuza 2 doesn't really do a whole lot to break from the formula that the original game came up with, which is to say there's a twisty, damned interesting story at the heart of this little beat 'em up. Yes, the game is a fairly straight punchy, kicky affair, but the impact of delivering the kind of story that Yakuza 2 offers can't really be overstated; it transforms a simple little brawler into something more, something teeming with atmosphere and characters that you actually give a crap about. Honestly, when was the last time any beat 'em up did that?It really is a fantastic story, one that regularly invites themes of honor and respect and good old-fashioned crime drama to the party. Though much of the core game hasn't changed since the previous entry, the way the writers were able to weave together the events of that first outing with a prologue that blows the story out into a decades-wide tale of deception and buried pasts is absolutely fantastic. By going back and tapping the same characters and setting of the first game, but building on it, Yakuza 2 simultaneously gives newcomers something to chew on, but fans of the series will have even more to digest as the story unravels.It's likely that there will be more than a few of you who do that, too, given the amount of... stuff that's been included in the game. Don't feel like finding out the secrets of that oh so attractive new female cop buddy that Kaz is running around with? Fine, take a break and go chat up some girls at a club -- or better still, become a host yourself and tend to women in search of a little male companionship for a few hours. The game regularly gives you options rather than forcing you down one path, and it really does help thicken up the whole experience.Plenty of that comes down to the game's absolute insistence on giving anyone playing it plenty of reason to want to get sucked into this world. The characters are wonderfully defined, both in terms of their facial animations and clearly motion-captured actions, and in how they're painted through dialogue and plot reveals. The ambient tracks that play on the streets are pepped with city noise and the din of dozens of conversations happening at once. Even just running down the street packed with people will have you catching bits of conversations -- some of which lead to side quests if you pay attention.If the graphics are good, however, the audio is superlative. It's been a long, long time since I've heard a game -- let alone a PS2 one -- that paid this much attention to a cinematic-level amount of foley work. Footsteps crunch on gravel, the sound of unscrewing the top off a bottle is crystal clear, ice cubes clink away in glasses, and, of course, the game is delivered entirely in Japanese (and, at times, Korean). It may seem like a bunch of small things, but when a game is as cutscene-driven as this one, it really does make a huge difference. Plus, it's always fun to hear some dude's neck whip back by a huge hit with the complementary sounds of a little celery snapping. The music, too, which threatens to become a little repetitive during fights, is varied enough to include more electronic, industrial sounds right alongside speedy little jazz notes.Closing Comments
While Yakuza 2 isn't vastly improved or even all that different from the first game (that will likely happen when the PS3 continuation finally hits), but what it does offer is a fantastic story that is actually interesting, sports characters that you can grow to love or hate, and plenty of twists to keep all those disparate parts fresh. Go buy this game. Seriously. SEGA needs to be rewarded for cranking out an experience like this, and doing it on the anniversary of the Dreamcast's launch is just icing on the cake.http://ps2.ign.com/articles/909/909571p2.html8.5 Presentation
Absolutely fantastic stuff, from the cinematic camera angles that actually give some Hollywood flicks competition to the attention to detail in the audio.
It's a solid-looking game, if a little prone to seaming and the odd bit of aliasing, but the atmosphere of running down a neon-lit street teeming with people is undeniable.
Absolutely fantastic. Only the music grates, and even then is only for a short time. The rest of the audio is some of the best on the PS2. Yes, really.
You'd think that caving in Generic Punk with "FART" on His Back #5456773 would get old after the 50th time, but nope, it's just as satisfying to lay waste to a group of enemies.
8.0 Lasting Appeal
There is a TON of stuff here to find, explore and uncover, from the return of locker keys to side quests to just chatting up virtual ladies.
(out of 10 / not an average)
lol tough luck, Nuckles. For the rest of us, though.....this is going to be an amazing game and I can't wait to play it.