Yakuza 4 review: An immersive sandbox.
- There is so much to do in this game (and 99 per cent of it is awesome)
- It could probably do without the chase sequences
Yakuza 4 is true sandbox gaming, with a great story, brilliant minigames and side quests, and a vibrant and interesting world to explore.
Yakuza 4 is the first game in the series I've played. For whatever reason, until now the games have passed me by — perhaps in part because I wasn't as gripped by its spiritual predecessor, Shenmue, as others.
Going in as a complete newbie then, it took all of 30 minutes to be utterly hooked. This is the kind of sandbox I like to play in.
Yakuza 4 is, broadly, a story-heavy RPG. There are long cut scenes to sit through, multiple characters to juggle between, and an epic (albeit underground and urban) story to follow. There are random battles, XP upgrades, and save points.
But looking beyond those raw mechanics, the game radiates a rare passion. The city all this drama plays out in is genuinely open. There are convenience stores to pop in to, multiple cafes and restaurants to visit to chow down delicacies. There are some seedy bars tucked away in small corners with fully functional pool and darts games. There's even an arcade, with an arcade game that supports online leaderboards.
While the city is (substantially) smaller in terms of square metres to a game like Grand Theft Auto, all that means is there's more action per square metre. Whereas in GTA you'll have a lot of down time driving from place to place, in Yakuza 4 (where you're on foot) there's almost always something nearby to get involved with.
In fact, because of that concentrated action, the game does a remarkable job of capturing the energy and atmosphere of a real Japanese city, to the point where as I played I felt a great urge to buy a plane ticket to head back to Tokyo. Street signs, architecture, shop layouts, and fashions are all faithfully recaptured — it feels like Sega has gone and recreated a real part of Tokyo.
There's no real pressure to tackle the main story at any great pace — indeed Yakuza goes to great lengths to get you acquainted with the side quests and minigames it offers. The hostess clubs are a major focus early on in the story, for instance, but rather than disappear into the background, there's a rewarding simulation to play with in going back and helping some hostesses become popular, and flirting with others. It's even possible to 'date' the hostesses, should you check the right boxes.
It's a joy to explore the world of Yakuza. The random battles (typically a death knell for exploration) are paced just right to keep the action level high, but the frustration level at bay. Bump into the wrong street punks and a seamless transition later you're beating the living daylights out of them while a crowd gathers around to cheer you on. Combat is action-based, and very fluid. There are a lot of different kinds of kicks, punches and grabs that can be performed, and the combat gets some amusing variety in being able to pick up any number of objects from the environment to use as weapons. There's nothing quite as satisfying as breaking a guy's head in with a stack of magazines.
The one failing from the entire game is the occasional chase sequence. These don't control so well, and the clumsiness breaks with the suspension of disbelief just enough to pull you out of the experience and remind you that you are playing a game. Thankfully these scenes are few and far between.
As Japan's answer to GTA, Yakuza 4 is a very adult game. The combat is messy and brutal, the themes are dark, the sexual tones run thick and there's plenty of bad language. But it's impossible to go wrong with such a massive, intelligent and open game. And if, like me, you're a newcomer to the series, Sega has been good enough to provide background videos on previous games' events, so catching up is easy.
Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook
Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide
Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters
Join the PC World newsletter!
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Acer Swift 7
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Huawei Mate 9
Google Daydream VR headset
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 HTC U Ultra phone full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Venom Blackbook Zero 14 laptop review
Latest News Articles
- Star Citizen dumps DirectX 12 plans to focus on Vulkan-powered graphics
- Dungeons and Dragons ditches pen and paper with D&D Beyond
- Exclusive no more: PlayStation 4 games are coming to the PC via PlayStation Now
- Adding video apps like Netflix to the Nintendo Switch is a waste of Nintendo's energy
- You can download Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes for iOS and Android today
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- HTC U Ultra phone full, in-depth review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- TPSenior Test AnalystQLD
- CCPMO Analyst - Financial ServicesNSW
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistSA
- CCTechnical Business AnalystVIC
- FTCitrix EngineerNSW
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- TPFront End DeveloperNSW
- FTDatabase Administrator - OracleQLD
- CCUnix/Linux Systems AdministratorNSW
- CCProject MangerWA
- CC3 x UX Designers - 3 month contract initially - IT Services company - SydneyNSW
- FTSenior Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)Other
- FTJunior / Entry Level IT roleNSW
- TPBusiness Change ManagerQLD
- FTJunior Software Engineer - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)VIC
- TPAnalyst Programmer (.Net)SA
- CC.net Developer (Front and Back end)QLD
- FT.Net DeveloperVIC
- TPBusiness AnalystNSW
- TPSalesforce Functional AnalystNSW
- TPSolution Architect - Real-Time Tracking SystemVIC
- CCSenior Business Analyst - Telco - Melbourne CBDVIC
- CCTechnical Business Analyst (Security) - Finance - Contract - Sydney CBDNSW
- FTICT Business Development Manager - Technical Products/SolutionsQLD