Yakuza 0 ReviewPrice:
Disclaimer: I didn't manage to finish this one. I sunk 60 hours in, and I'm still not quite finished. I'd say I've got a good measure of what the game is about though. Sorry about those Sega squares on the screens on offer here, too. The PS4Share functionality won't let me share a thing without the little black box there.
Miracle Johnson has a dilemma. He's trying to shoot his new music video with Stephen Spining, acclaimed director of hit movie Indian Jeans, and he wants this zombie epic to feel real.
Real in this case means making sure the zombies act like zombies and attack Miracle Johnson with everything they've got. The only thing standing between you and him is one of Yakuza 0's protagonists Kazuma Kiryu, looking to beat down any of the zombie extras before they can take a bite of Johnson, letting him effortlessly dance through the crowds in a tableau worthy of the crown prince of pop.
This one mission, starring not-Michael Jackson and not-Steven Spielberg riffing on their greatest works, is emblematic of the entire game. Yakuza 0 is completely bonkers, but the way it commits entirely to the act, and it's self awareness throughout as it tosses you through a mess of different scenarios is honestly, quite refreshing.
Yakuza 0 is a game that has you alternate between fighting through a gangland hideout, hitting a karaoke bar or even acting as a runner at an on-location television shoot within an hour, all accompanied with regular punch-ups in the streets of the game's twin locations of Tokyo and Osaka and this frenzied variety works to create one of the most interesting open-world crime games on the market.
At first glance, and several subsequent glances after that, Yakuza 0 has the hallmarks of a PlayStation 2 game. This is both in terms of the quality: several models have a slightly smeared look to them, while certain textures and hitboxes look quite cheaply done, and cutscenes are only partially voice -- in the original Japanese, which is nice -- with most of scenes being text boxes for you to read with the occasional Japanese bark in the background. It's nice to have the original as option, but there's a lot of text to read at times, and it can break up the gameplay quite heavily from time to time, although i found it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the game at all.
Mechanically it feels like a PlayStation 2 game too - you have to go to a telephone booth to save, and the menus initially appear to be a confusing mess. Money spews out for enemies as you punch them, giving you the cash to upgrade yourself.
It would be easy to write the game off based on its older feel and an initial first chapter that is largely walking slowly around city streets and reading pages and pages of text, a mix of tutorials and chatter. It's definitely a slow starter, but, by the time you get to the end of the first chapter — a scrap that sees you assault a Yakuza stronghold and punching your way from top to bottom — there's a good chance the game will have won you over.