So, the other day I was at KMart, and I decided to look through the bargain bin of games there. And much to my surprise, I found a copy of Yakuza 3 there for $15. So, I bought it. Here are my thoughts after about 15 hours of play.
The Good.Yakuza 3 is really fun to play. It's a lot like Shenmue (apparently it's made by many of the people who made Shenmue), just faster paced, and without all the time management stuff. It's a lot more streamlined experience, which on the one hand means that there's less downtime, but also results in some pretty funny things if one thinks about it too much. During the course of one night (in game and real world) Kazuma (main character, if you didn't know) went on two dates with, and slept with three women (individually, not a foursome). Also, he met all of them at the local Smile Burger.
I also never knew that the streets of Okinawa and Tokyo were so crime ridden. I can barely get down a street without being challenged to one or two fights. Luckily, the combat is pretty fun. It's a little on the mash-y side, but the more XP Kaz gets from fighting dudes and completing "Sub-Stories" (side quests), the more his skills gets upgraded, and new moves become available (certain Sub-Stories also unlock new moves), and thus combat becomes more interesting. And even without upgrading Kaz, there are some pretty devastating finishers that can be done with environmental weapons (like hitting a dude over the head with a bike so hard that the bike breaks into pieces).
Speaking of weapons, there is weapon crafting in the game. And some of it is pretty amazing. I made nunchucks out of clothes-hangers! They're not the most effective weapons (as I was able to make regular nunchucks with higher durability and damage), but I mean, come on. CLOTHES-HANGER NUNCHUCKS! That's pretty awesome. And there's some other weird stuff that can be made (using some pretty weird materials, like old magazines and broken radios).
And there is a LOT of stuff in this game. Even after 15 hours, the story feels like it's just getting going (mainly because I spent so much time doing side stuff). And there are a bunch of mini-games, like golf, darts, pool, SEGA branded arcades (with Virtua Fighter 5 machines that sadly can't be used), fishing, various forms of gambling (western (black jack and stuff) and Japanese (don't remember the names because it was all stuff I had never heard of)), and probably some other stuff that I can't think of right now. But this game had plenty of content (especially for the super low price I got it at).
The game also has a couple of lengthy recaps of the stories from the first two Yakuza games, which is great seeing as how I've never played either of them. If you're a first time Yakuza-er like me, I'd strongly recommend watching those before starting up the game.
Oh, and in case you're really interested in buying this game, the US copies of the game have a code for some sort of free DLC that expires on the first of next month, so BE QUICK ABOUT IT! (I also found it hilarious that I bought it the month before the code expired). I have no clue about similar codes in other regions (though I'd be willing to bet that it also works in Canada).
The Not-So-Good.As I'm sure you know, Yakuza 3 is not a new release. It came out last year in the US of A, and the year before that in Japan. As a result, it looks a little dated. Not bad by any stretch, because the game does at least have a pretty solid frame-rate with a lot of characters in environments and a good amount of detail in said environments, it's just that everything looks a little...plastic-y. It doesn't detract too much from the game though.
However, the game is in Japanese with English subtitles. And while many people out there like subs, I usually call those people crazy. I always prefer a dub over a sub, to the point where this was why I didn't buy the game last year when it first came out. After playing the game a whole bunch, I can say that it doesn't really detract from the game much, but I still would have liked it if there was an option for English voices. On the other hand, that would have required that SEGA put more money into a game that they predicted (accurately) wouldn't sell well in the US, but whatever. It's not that big of an issue.
What I do think is an issue though is what is and isn't voiced. All of the side stuff I've encountered so far has been not-voiced. And while that would have been acceptable back in the day, it really isn't in this day and age. There's plenty of room on PS3 discs to get that dialog in there, and not voicing it just seems cheap.
Even more of an issue is when (for no apparent reason) the game goes from a full-motion and fully voiced cut-scene to characters standing still talking to each other in text-boxes (without voice acting). Then, after a bunch of dialog, it switches back to a regular cut-scene! It makes no sense, and all it does is lessen the experience and make the game seem cheaper. Not a game breaker by any stretch, but it does blemish an otherwise awesome game.
So, that's about it for my thoughts. I still have a lot of game left to do, but sadly what with spring break being over (I spent most of it playing games, as you might have guessed), and me being back at college, I'm not going to have a chance to play it for a while, which saddens me, because I was loving what I had been playing. Loving it to the point where once I beat it, unless something happens near the end to ruin it for me, I'll go pick up Yakuza 4, which should then hype me up for Yakuza of the End! You know, the one with zombies! (Hey, at least they're doing something to change it up from the previous ones).
Also, I have a quick question for those who have beaten the game. There are Trophies for "completing" certain numbers of the Sub-Stories, but I ended up only "finishing" a couple of them (I couldn't find one kid whilst playing hide and seek, and gave up after a while, and once a transvestite caught up with and kissed Kaz, thus making him feel violated). So, does anyone know if "finishing" them instead of "completing" them affects my ability to get those Trophies? I want to know before I start obsessing over doing all of them. Also, is there a point in the game where I can freely go from one city to the other? Even if I have to buy a plane ticket each time, it'd be worth it (especially since money is pretty easy to get in the game).