|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: CS1 Team||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 9, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Things aren't all action-packed in Yakuza 3, though; this game is heavy on story. If you're a gamer that can't deal with long cutscenes (all of which are in Japanese), you might find your enjoyment of the title diminished significantly. For me, I was happy to read along with the cinematics, and I found they actually piqued my interest in the title. This is a good thing because there's nearly 300 minutes of cutscenes to wade through, including a terse plot synopsis for both Yakuza and Yakuza 2. These cutscenes are mostly well done, with character models looking especially crisp. That said, the environments are sorely lacking detail, making Yakuza 3 a fairly ugly title when compared to practically all other PS3 exclusives out there.
Another issue players might find disconcerting is the unvoiced portions of cutscenes. For some reason, cutscenes often get chopped up by text streams accompanied by no other sounds than the repeating click-click-click found in Japanese handheld games and console titles from yesteryear. These vignettes are in stark contrast to the movie-like cinema scenes, which really disrupts the immersion. Why the devs felt they needed to add them, other than serving as an homage to the brawler roots, is beyond me.
Despite the often lackluster visuals, the fictional zones of Kamurocho (Tokyo) and Ryukyugai (Okinawa) still manage to bring across a very Japanese experience. Just as GTA's Liberty City is a wonderful analog to NYC, players will be transported to the seedy underbelly of Japan in Yakuza 3; from the humorous fast food chains and bright city lights to the tourist-friendly sandy beaches and thug-filled alleys, Yakuza 3 robes you in Japanese culture by being true to the real-world setting.
Finally, the game is chocked full of extra elements that players can get into. Beyond main missions and even sub-stories, there are a lot of things to explore and collect in the open-world setting. Literally, you could nearly double the length of the game by talking to all the people and focusing in on padding your Trophy count. What's more, there are several levels of difficulty if you find combat to be particularly enjoyable.
Certainly Yakuza 3 has a lot going for it. However, it's still a niche title that will only truly appeal to a rather narrow audience. If you're expecting a Japanese take on GTA, guess again. If you want pure action, you'll be bored to tears by the lengthy cutscenes. If you're hoping for complex, RPG-like leveling mechanics, you'll be disappointed. Yakuza 3 is a quirky hodgepodge of various genres that rewards the patient japanophile looking to kick a little ass. For everyone else, if Yakuza 3 never sounded particularly cool to you, you can easily let this one pass.
CCC Editor / News Director