Yakuza is the ultimate Fight Choreography Simulator

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#1 Edited by Welding (329 posts) -

This is a random thought I had while playing Yakuza Kiwami: I was doing the fight through the Chinese restaurant and was fighting a number of chefs and Chinese mob goons in the restaurant's kitchen. As I was luring over a chef to slam his head into a stove and building up the right amount of Heat to dramatically disarm one of the goons something dawned on me:

Yakuza is the ultimate fight choreography simulator.

I've been a fan of the Yakuza games since playing Yakuza for the PS2. When I started playing the first Yakuza as a teen, a friend of mine happened to be over and from that point on I would never play it without him on the couch. I'd control the game and he'd watch it as if he was watching an insane martial arts movie. When I played these games I wasn't playing to beat the game's challenges, but to entertain my friend. I would look for situations where I could pull off the game's (oftentimes incredibly specific) Heat Moves not for their damage-output, but for their cinematic value.

Only when I was recently playing Kiwami did it occur to me that I was still playing that same way, even without my friend with me on the couch. I was having fun with the Yakuza combat not because I felt profoundly challenged at my skill in the game; I was trying to put together the coolest looking martial arts fight I could and having a blast doing it.

I started thinking about this more when I saw Dan play through Yakuza 0. His gripes with the combat definitely have merit, but I think the biggest reason that he never had fun with it because he was playing to beat the game instead of playing to put together rad looking fight scenes.

What do you guys think? Are there any other games you play for aesthetics rather than challenge?

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#2 Posted by OurSin_360 (6177 posts) -

I really liked the way fights looked and felt in sleeping dogs

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#3 Posted by IVDAMKE (1824 posts) -

The DMC games do a fantastic job of melding style, challenge and the objective all into the core gameplay loop. DMC4 especially looks like a ridiculous combative dance when played at high level.

Recently though I've been thoroughly enjoy Nioh it has a much more grounded feel and can be played in a very stylish way that the game also rewards mechanically.

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#4 Posted by WheresDerrick (326 posts) -

The restaurant level in Stranglehold was also great for this. Lots of destructible pieces of the building, bullet holes, dead bodies piling up (though they do disappear) and the general mayhem made that the best level of the entire game and it was only 20 minutes in. The casino level with the band playing and if one got killed their instrument stopped in the music was cool too.

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#5 Posted by Welding (329 posts) -

@wheresderrick Never heard about the casino level with the band!
I love that kind of stuff (and have to commend the rest of the band for continuing to play when their bassist just got shot dead).

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#6 Posted by Giant_Gamer (762 posts) -

It is really fun to give your enemies a proper beat down in Yakuza games and it is the reason why i keep buying them. However, i believe that one of the reasons why Dan and new comers didn't enjoy Yakuza 0 as much as we did, is a gameplay design decision. Unlike previous iterations in the Yakuza series, in Zero the character becomes more powerful once the heat bar is filled which i have found that having it is discouraging to use the heat moves ruining the fun of exploring the heat moves that the developers have worked so hard for you to enjoy.

Sometimes i think of Yakuza as Mortal Kombat where you have one character and are exploring fatalities during the progress of the games.... Do it Netherealms DO IT!!

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#7 Posted by Welding (329 posts) -

@giant_gamer: Yes this is a very good point; I found the dynamic of Heat Levels to go against the joy of staging cool fights. Not only does it disincentive use of Heat (like you said) it also makes it much harder to remember when certain moves can be employed (like how some moves can only be activated on Level 2 Heat, which is insane).

While I still think Zero is the best Yakuza in the series I'm not a huge fan of the granularity brought to the Heat Bar mechanics.
However, I actively disliked Kiwami's use of "Climax Heat", where upgrading and thus lengthening the Heat Bar is just an incredibly bad idea because it makes it harder for the player to enter the Climax Heat bar, which is where all the seriously cool moves live.

I'm excited to try the new bar in Yakuza 6, which seems to be a big improvement on both these concepts.

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#8 Posted by nodsknowingly (21 posts) -

I really liked the way fights looked and felt in sleeping dogs

Totally agree with this. Still holding out hope for a sequel, spiritual or otherwise.

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#9 Posted by TheHT (15859 posts) -

Spider-Man Web of Shadows was probably the epitome of doing shit just for style when it came to combat. I could effectively zip-attack over and over and beat most encounters, orrrrr I could toss one enemy, zip to another and knock them back, zip to the side of a building and fight there, run along the building and jump off, zip-attack to another enemy, slam into the ground, etc etc.

Also great for that sort of thing was Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. The Sands of Time had really simple combat, but jumping over dudes was never not satisfying. But then Warrior Within gave you a ton of options in combat. Jump over a guy and kick off to land behind another guy and kill em, toss your sword at another, run up a wall and jump off to land behind another guy, grab him and throw him, etc etc.

I like games with that kind of acrobatic-focused combat. Rather than attack strings it's more about utility/movement options, and blending those together between enemies. I guess the Arkham combat is kinda like that too. Might explain why I enjoy that combat so much as well. For 1v1 stuff, things like DMC3 are fantastic (the Vergil fights always stand out in my memory), but jumping around and between enemies ranks higher for me when it comes to stylish video game fight choreography.

Sleeping Dogs was pretty great in that regard too. Game also had great silly car chases and bullet-time gunplay. Goddamn shame they didn't make a Sleeping Dogs 2 instead of that multiplayer thing.

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#10 Posted by BoOzak (2592 posts) -

I always thought the fights in The Bourne Conspiracy looked really cool but werent fun to play at all.

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I feel like the Yakuza games do a pretty good job of having combat that feels good mixed with ridiculous Heat actions that are fun to watch.

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#11 Posted by Giant_Gamer (762 posts) -

@welding: Yeah that too was one of my dislikes about the fighting system in the game as there are eight fighting styles in the game and each has certain combos that could only be triggered at certain levels of the heat bar as you have said.

Yakuza 5 remains to be the best game in the franchise but unfortunately a lot of players didn't get to play it since it had a release date that was too late for the ps3 owners and hasn't gotten a ps4 release.

You have reminded me about Kiwami as i have bought and installed the game a month ago but didn't get a chance to play as I'm still playing Persona 5... currently I'm at the last part of the game.

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#12 Edited by liquiddragon (3381 posts) -

Big part of the reason why I like character action games so much. I feel like you're not playing them right if you're playing them like a beat-em-up.

Based on my experience with the Yakuza series (only 4), the combat is ok but it can't sustain a 50+ hour game. The way they make it difficult also really exposes its shallowness. It's satisfying and impactful but the random encounters really dragged the game down the more I played.

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#13 Posted by cikame (2828 posts) -
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#14 Posted by TheChris (524 posts) -

I actually disagree with what people have said about 0's combat. I think that the 4 styles introduces a lot of variety, and especially in heat actions, because you such a large entourage of heat actions to pick from it's easy to make every fight feel stylish, especially when fighting against many enemies. There are also a lot of flashy counters as well, the idea is to simply learn how to use them. Random fights on the streets are a good way of getting a handle on the combat.

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