In Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, old habits die hard

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For Kazuma Kiryu, the past can’t stay buried for long. Sega Games Co., Ltd.’s Yakuza 6: The Song of Life for Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 pulls Kiryu back to organized crime with a strong combat system, theatrical characters, and lively interactive cities to explore.

After a three-year stint a prison, Kiryu is told that Haruka, the only daughter of his lost love, is missing. In search of Haruka, he is subsequently lured into a turf war and back into the yakuza world.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life features a brand new battle system with a new physics engine for momentum-based attacks that yield greater impact. The improved combat tracking helps fists gently guide their way to the next opponent. In addition, environmental weapons like bricks, crates, and park benches add welcome variables to each fight.

Extreme Heat Mode will boost Kiryu’s power, defense and skill. Once activated, Kiryu can pummel opponents with less recoil and execute special attacks.

EXP points gained from battle are divided into five categories – Strength, Agility, Spirit, Technique and Charm. Each upgrade requires one or a combination of points in each category to boost stats and skills. Many upgrades add to Kiryu’s arsenal, including the option to toss one enemy to damage nearby opponents. Kiryu can even upgrade his alcohol consumption to decrease the chance of public drunkenness when he buys defense-boosting beer.

Between bouts, there is plenty to explore. Kamurocho, the biggest red light district in Tokyo, is Kiryu’s default mini-game playground that includes bars, karaoke, hostess clubs, gyms, and cat cafés. Each venue is tied to a specific mini-game that can be mastered to earn EXP. For example, the Cabaret Club is a strategy game with topic cards to build rapport with the hostess. Another venue is Club Sega, an arcade where the user can play actual ports of Virtual Fighter 5 and Puyo Puyo.

Onomichi, a sleepy port town in Hiroshima prefecture, holds fewer but still fun activities including spearfishing and the Clan Creator simulation game to command an army to win turf wars.

Both towns include a wealth of optional content. Early on, Kiryu can access the Troublr phone app to resolve small crimes reported by the public. In addition, there are a range of substories to complete that range from uninstalling a manipulative third-party phone app to helping two friends who have switched bodies. All missions add EXP to boost stats and skills.

In battle and town life, Kiryu will come across a range of endearing and sinister characters. The suspects are woven into an intricate story of family and power that is unpredictably intriguing but understandably human.

Characters are expertly portrayed with a combination of the new Dragon Engine and a strong voice cast. The Dragon Engine, at 30 frames-per-second, renders the cast and their environments to a new level of realism. Kiryu himself looks older with added frown lines, yet maintains a sturdy sense of style in a grey suit and snakeskin loafers. Kamurocho is livelier than ever with big, bold neon signs, large crowds, and seedy entertainment. The port town of Onomichi relays a more relaxed vibe with a duller palette and less street traffic.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is said to be the final journey for Kazuma Kiryu. It’s been a long road for the Dragon of Dojima. But he can rest easy knowing that in this last fight, he leaves a lasting impact.

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