Everyone knows about console exclusive games and series. Sometimes, there are video games you can only play if you do so on a certain platform. It’s terrible for people that want to play and don’t have that console, and one of the most lamentable cases was that of the legendary Yakuza series.
Yakuza is an action-adventure video game developed by Sega that was originally released on the PlayStation 2 in 2005. From that point forward, the series stayed pretty much entirely exclusive to PlayStation, despite having numerous entries. Some time ago, a prequel to the first game and remakes of the first and second games were finally made available on Xbox, but new fans getting into the series couldn’t go beyond that point without a PlayStation. With the new Yakuza Remastered, Xbox and PC gamers can finally continue their journey in this ludicrous universe: up until Yakuza 5, that is. The even better news is that it’s available on Game Pass.
All three of these remastered games run quite well on both PC and Xbox. That said, the collection includes games that all come from the era of the PlayStation 3, which means gamers should expect some dated assets or mechanics, but all of that will run easily with higher resolution, better lighting, and superior graphics settings. For PC gamers, in particular, gamers can make use of several graphic options like resolution, anti-aliasing, texture and shadow quality, ambient occlusion, and frame rate limits. In addition to better graphic settings, there are also dedicated keyboard and mouse controls to stay consistent with previous PC ports in the series.
Unfortunately, there is some bad news, relatively speaking. The Xbox versions of the game will obviously not have the same customization options as the PC. The resolution on the Xbox Series X is around 1080p and should comfortably maintain 60 fps. Unfortunately, there’s no way to up the graphics on Xbox, and the collection is not optimized for the Xbox Series X, which means there’s pretty much no difference in quality between the Xbox One and Series X versions of the collection.
We’ll be the first to admit that great graphics are nice, but there’s more to a good game than graphics: after all, the Yakuza series has eight games in the series, each beloved in their own way. Clearly, these games have been doing something right, which means the remaster should be exciting for everyone, but especially new fans on new platforms who got roped in by Yakuza 0 or Kiwami. After all, three whole games are pretty crucial to the plot of the series overall and said plot is so ridiculous and entertaining that you wouldn’t want to skip anything anyway. Kazuma Kiryu, the main character of the series, leaves behind a life of crime (guess what kind of crime) to help children in need on the beaches of Okinawa. He does this to emulate a father figure in his life, but of course, the game isn’t called Orphanage, it’s called Yakuza.
Naturally, Kiryu gets caught up in a power struggle that involves people wanting the land his orphanage is on, and those people include the Yakuza, forcing Kiryu to get involved with his old life. Players will get to interact with many noteworthy characters from the series, including Majima, who played a major role in Yakuza 0 and the Kiwami games. Yakuza 3 may be a little dated (remember, the collection is a remaster, not a remake), but it’s actually the entry most responsible for setting up the current Yakuza gameplay: a degree of free-roam exploration, silly mini-games, and a fun and intuitive fighting system.
Yakuza 4 throws a fast one in comparison, introducing a varied cast of characters that players get to control, though the main plot is still about Kiryu. It’s kind of like Yakuza 0, which had players controlling both Kiryu and Majima at different parts of the story. Needless to say, it’s one of those “multiple perspectives on the same events” type of games, but this just means there’s even more variety in gameplay and narrative than Yakuza 3, which leads into the events of this game.
Aside from the nice change of gameplay pace when you move from character to character (they all have unique fighting styles, of course), the seemingly unrelated stories of each character ultimately tie together in a very unpredictable plot twist and an amazing climax that primes the player and the story for Yakuza 5.
The whole cast of characters from Yakuza 4 comes back in Yakuza 5 (continuity from title to title is one of the series’ best-selling points). In this entry, Kiryu takes a fake identity, becomes a cab driver in a new city, and sends money back to the orphanage. In the new town, players get to enjoy not only a serious and dramatic plot but also hilarious side stories and ridiculous minigames, from becoming a drummer to a ramen chef and even racing in a taxi. You even get to do some idol management, taking control of an aspiring idol as she stars in frantic dance and song battles on her rise to fame. It’s a serious game and a serious series, we swear.
Overall, this remastered collection of Yakuza games will provide the exact experience fans of 0 and the Kiwami games did: that being a serious crime drama plot, interspersed with awesome street fights and completely ludicrous side plots and addicting minigames. Unfortunately, there’s no disco dancing to be found (it’s not the 80s in-universe anymore, unfortunately), but the good old-fashioned karaoke is still hilarious and fun, and did we mention that you can run around attacking people as Santa Claus?
It’s a wild ride, and even better, you can play all six available (for the Xbox and PC) Yakuza games via Game Pass, so if you really want to give it a try, and you most certainly should, you can give the series a go without buying any of the games permanently.