TGS: Yakuza 2 heading to US

Plus new details of third game.

SEGA has confirmed that Yakuza 2 will make its Western debut in the US next year. However, there's still no news of a possible European release.

The news came as the third game in the series was unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show. Unlike the previous two, this one will be set in the past - 400 years ago, to be precise, when Japan was all feudal.

You'll play as Kazumanosuke Kiryu, a man once known as legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Because it's a time of peace your fighting skills are no longer needed. You spend your time in society's seedy underbelly, drinking and womanising. So it's a bit like being a student then.

Your life, however, is about to change. A young girl called Haruka approaches you and asks you to kill someone for her. Unfortunately the person she wants killed is you, Miyamoto Musashi. She, none the wiser, whores herself in order to stump up the cash, which you take and use to begin tracing your past and discover the truth about why it's all been so peaceful lately.

It marks a change of pace for the previously modern and gangster-focused series, but one producer Toshihiro Nagoshi believes will be the biggest and best yet.

"With the game changing into a historical drama, a lot of people are thinking that it's going to be a side story or a gaiden (or spin-off) type of release," Nagoshi told Gamespot. "But we're not trying to make a type of game that's got a different tone.

"We're making a completely new title, and in addition to making sure it's got very solid gameplay, we're also working hard on the casting and other various details to make the game surpass the previous releases in the series."

Once again it's third-person action adventure territory, and you'll get to spend time as two identities. When you are in Kyoto's red-light district you will be your womanising self and restricted to hand-to-hand combat. But outside you will take up your samurai mantle, flexing your sword-swishing prowess in three strategical styles: single-sword for all-round attacks, double-swords for variety and combination attacks, and large-sword for slow and powerful strikes.

The "heat action" system from the previous games also returns, allowing context sensitive moves like stabbing enemies behind you and plucking thrown opponents out of the air.

We're told to expect about 100 side stories on top of the main quest, delivered by an expensive cast of voice actors "spectacular enough to make a full motion picture", according to Nagoshi. It also seems like you'll shed your seedy personality as the game goes on, entering into cleansing mini-games to rid yourself of dirty thoughts.

Progression will see you visiting masters to train and learn new skills and powers, while newly acquired swords can be re-forged at blacksmiths to increase their power.

You'll also be able to learn new moves by witnessing certain events, things like dogs jumping to catch things in their mouths or farmers being bowled over by oxen. This inspiration system was added in to encourage you to look around, apparently.

Elsewhere you can whittle away your time by playing people at Japanese chess (Shougi), dice betting and turtle track racing.

Yakuza 3 is due out on PS3 next year in Japan. US and European releases are yet to be confirmed.

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