Yakuza 6: Brand new engine, same old Kamurocho shenanigans

You could totally complete missions and help out your fellow Kamurocho citizens. My time with Yakuza 6 was better spent enjoying the wacky stuff on the side.

Lately, Sega has been pushing their Yakuza series. It’s quite an odd thing to see, especially with announcements of remaking the original games for the PS4, considering that just a few years ago Western players thought the series would never make its way over here again.

Yet, Sega’s premium experience at E3 2017 was two games from the fighting-RPG series. Both Yakuza 6: The Song of Life and Yakuza Kiwami (a remake of the original PlayStation 2 game) were available to play on the showroom floor, but I’ll start us off with the game that sports a brand new look with the same old Kiryu.

My 10-minute gameplay demo offered me the option to play either a story mode or roaming free in Kamurocho. In the interest of keeping a clear mind, I opted to try out as many goofy things as I could in Kamurocho.

One of the two things that jump to mind immediately is the visuals. Sega is using a brand new Dragon Engine, offering up a crisp, high-fidelity look that seems otherworldly compared to the recent (and upcoming) titles held back by co-development for the PS3. The lighting system is phenomenal; water puddles shimmer with the reflection of the street lights and the NPC models look well polished.

Combat is instantaneous in Yakuza 6, as whenever you encounter a group of enemies in the streets, you get a slowdown before you start to throw fists. Whenever you get into story encounters (say, you run into a group of Yakuza beating up someone one the street), you get more of the contemporary setup there.

For the most part, standard combat hasn’t received noticeable differences. You’re still a badass using multiple fighting styles to take down others. However, you now can enter an Ultimate Heat Mode when you accumulate enough of the heat bar, powering up your attacks and even getting strong hits that let you button mash for extra damage.

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There wasn’t much fighting to be done in my Yakuza 6 demo, as I had distractions to check out. The first was at a karaoke bar, running into a building to check out the song selection. Entering buildings is seamless with the Dragon Engine, cutting down on loading times drastically. You can even pick out the songs on a tablet, immediately transporting you into some hilarious guitar-strumming fun.

Yakuza 6 Screenshot

Sega

As you perform your side tasks, you will gain experience points in one of five categories. Strength, agility, guts, technique and appeal can all be leveled up with various activities, as well as when you eat certain foods. Should you find yourself working out at a totally recreated Rizap gym, your trainer can help you lift weights (another fun activity) and recommend food to help balance out your regimen, giving off an increased boost in productivity.

The second biggest thing I noticed when playing Yakuza 6, however, was the game’s framerate. I was playing on a base PS4 model, and the game’s silky-smooth 60 FPS is nowhere to be seen. It looks like looking visually stunning takes precedence over gameplay performance, as a rep for Atlas was on hand to tell me the PS4 Pro version will hit that higher framerate.

Still, I can’t help but notice the incremental differences in combat that make it more rigid. On a base level, you are fighting enemies with your fists and feet. It’s a fighting game; cutting the frame rate in half does a huge disservice to what fans have come to expect for years.

Yakuza 6 Screenshot

Sega

Still, after my demo was up, I was ultimately satisfied at the present upgrades for what Yakuza 6 entails. There’s a deeper story at play from what the E3 2017 trailer provided, one that I won’t discuss here. As long as Kiryu is still kicking, the series will still have a strong protagonist to carry the story.

As well, the game will have a humorous take on the misadventures of Kamurocho.

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