Yakuza 2 • Page 2

Better late than never.

You'll start making more use of the 'Heat' ability, which encourages you to grab enemies and smash them into nearby walls, down a flight of stairs, or even throw them in the river. But with only a small window in which to grab your assailant and press triangle, it's often harder than you think.

Other opportunities to use the super-powerful Heat move present themselves in the blink of an eye. Usually when an enemy is downed, a kick in the cobblers does the trick. On the occasions you do manage to time it just right, the way the game zooms close-up in slow motion to a shot of you pulling off acts of extreme violence is a wonderfully satisfying reward. And I'm a pacifist.

So, as in the original, you'll bumble around (slightly comedically - the slow-mo running animation is still as odd as it ever was) neon-lit cities engaging in meaningless random battles, eventually making it to an objective marker on the mini-map. Typically these help move the resolutely linear storyline along, and might simply result in a bit of meandering narrative for a few minutes before you trot off elsewhere to pummel some other bad guys.

But at various junctures, you're left to your own devices without any prompt as to where to go next. This abandonment leaves you no choice but to engage in the exploration side of the game. It'll either prove to be a massive irritation or come as a welcome distraction as you inadvertently stumble upon all manner of side quests, careers and other nuggets of time-wasting fun.

Sometimes making basic mission-based progress in Yakuza 2 can feel like a gigantic pain in the arse. Particularly when the only clue the game offers is to go and look for so-and-so, with no suggestion as to where to even begin. No mini-map marker, no dialogue clue, nothing.

puffy

In Japan, puffy jackets are still legal.

So, unless you like reading FAQs, the only option is to pace up and down the streets instigating conversations with anyone and everyone, until you bump into someone who can help. Sometimes walking past a specific area triggers a pre-scripted event that moves the story on, but at other times it's just a case of tediously trudging around until you find the right person in the right place.

On other occasions it's even more mind-numbing, requiring you to visit a specific shop or bar and talk to one person simply to get the main plot moving again. You can waste an awful lot of time doing this in Yakuza 2. There's no justifiable reason for such arcane design decisions.

That said, such forced exploration does have positive side effects which, if time isn't an issue, make the game more enjoyable overall. When you're stuck it's tedious to find yourself trudging around, but you end up wandering into the many bars, restaurants, supermarkets, Club SEGA arcades, bowling alleys, DVD viewing booths and driving ranges. There's a ton of incidental fun to be had if you adopt a slightly less rushed mindset.

If you're not rather pointlessly trying out new drinks and obscure Japanese cuisine, you can always help out that loon in the arcade to win the Robot Manager in the UFO Catcher machine, or play some Mahjong. At times like these, you're reminded of the way you'd lose an entire evening doing similar things in Shenmue - 'wasting' hours simply talking to randoms and shopping for useless artifacts. Just because. It seems like a waste of time, but in fact it makes the game all that more charming.

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