Ending off the remakes of the earlier releases in the series, Yakuza Kiwami 2 has made its way to PCs worldwide. Set a year after Kiwami, K2 follows Kiryu yet again as he has once again left his Yakuza past behind him to take care of Haruka after the events of the previous game. Starting off with some slow moments, K2 kicks off into the same blazing action of the previous games, but can it reignite the spark as the previous entries were leading Kiryu into a calmer life.
Having joined and left the Yakuza around 5 times both ways, Kazuma Kiryu is living life peacefully as he raises Haruka to carry on the wish of his past love Yumi. The game starts off with Kiryu visiting the graves of past characters from Zero and Kiwami, giving us the option to get a recap of the previous game. After the reminiscing comes to a close we will be reunited with Terada, who Kiryu had given ownership of the Tojo clan to at the end of Kiwami. This friendly chat amongst friends is cut short as Terada is assassinated by the Omi clan, forcing Kiryu to get back into the Yakuza political game, in which he solves it all with his fists.
Travelling between Kamurocho and Sotenbori, similar to the earlier games, Kiryu will be helping the Tojo clan once again fix the drama that is ever present. A returning character from Zero shows up, the Bontan Hunter Ryuji Goda, though his days of stealing trousers has come to an end as he has risen to a high place among the Omi Clan. Talks of peace, coup d’états and betrayal become extremely prevalent as no mission is ever simple for Kiryu.
The main story of Yakuza Kiwami 2 will last you around 15-20 hours, almost exactly as long as the first Kiwami entry. Just like the other 2 earlier games, K2 contains several side-quests to undertake from simple fights to longer quest chains that take you all over the cities, collectables and completion tasks. You can easily have your play time increase to 60-80 hours, which is seemingly shorter than that of the first Kiwami as the earlier entry had easily over 80 hours of such content. Coming in at £25 in comparison to Kiwami’s £15, it does seem like a bit of a price jump due to less playtime, however, some of the improvements to the game itself may warrant that price.
Taking a rather large jump in gameplay, especially when you compare Zero and Kiwami that were basically the same game, K2 takes on a combat system very similar to that of Yakuza 6. Fighting styles are removed in favour of a singular style that Kiryu will use throughout the game, as he fights and completes missions he will gain experience to spend on new skills, attacks and increase to his stats. Shifting to more of an RPG system, K2 has a much more focused levelling system, while feeling less varied than that of the style mechanic in the last 2 games.
While the combat system has changed, Kiryu feels like he kept with the Brawler style, with plenty of attacks, combos, throws and heat actions resembling those of the past entries. Slightly changing from earlier games, K2 increases the number of enemies in a single fight to 5-7 in most cases, with group fights playing a much bigger role, with some encounters going to over 10 at a time. With the higher amount of foes, Kiryu feels a lot stronger, especially when he throws a thug into a group and takes out 4 foes at once.
Making a return, Kiryu keeps his heat gauge which with skills increase his stats and allow him to use heat actions, dealing a huge chunk of damage to foes and draining 1 segment of his heat gauge. As a new mechanic, Kiryu can now enter Extreme Heat Mode at full heat gauge, increasing his stats and allowing for some attacks with the Y button that can be rapidly pressed to deal huge damage to his enemies. Feeling akin to a transformation, the Heat Mode adds even more energy to an already action packed combat system.
As a returning mechanic from Zero, K2 puts Kiryu in charge of a Cabaret Club in Sotenbori, with the mechanics being pretty much a copy and paste to K2 with some updated features and graphics. This is another form of income for the ex-yakuza as well as another way to gain exp and items. Bringing something from the future into the past, K2 also borrows the Clan Creator of Yakuza 6, where Kiryu will defend against waves of enemies attacking a building site, similar to a tower defence or RTS game, commanding units to defeat large groups of enemies from a bird’s eye view.
Just like the other Yakuza games, K2 is jam packed with optional content. There are 75 substories for Kiryu to interact with, while some are forced due to the story there are plenty that are on the way to main story content that they are hard to miss. From single fights to gathering items, substories make up a large portion of your playtime. As another returning mechanic, you will be finding keys for the lockers in both cities for extra items, plenty helping you to cheat at gambling. You will also have the chance to take Haruka around both cities, taking on requests to eat at specific restaurants or complete challenges in the mini-games.
Thankfully the soundtrack within Kiwami 2 is much better than that of the previous entry, though still falls short of Zero’s quality. It has some metallic and rock infused tracks for long encounters and boss fights as well as some jazzy tunes for combat in Sotenbori that fits the area. There are times when exploring leaves you without any music, aside from what can be heard from within buildings, however, the silence is replaced with the sound of crowds and characters so it never feels empty.
Similar to the other entries, K2 keeps a solid difficulty throughout without any major spikes, aside from some bosses having several health bars. If you put in some time for finding gear to equip and pouring experience into skills, the game can become a cakewalk due to the newer RPG mechanics in place. Towards the end of my playtime I was quite powerful, having maxed out my STR stat, with gear that gave me an extra 90 points towards it, making my punches hit like 2 trucks full of claw machine toys.
Loading up the game will see the effort put into this release, the buildings are much crisper, colourful and detailed, this quality extending to almost all other graphical aspects. Character models are more defined, food looks delectable and even more NPC models are seen exploring the city. With all the time put into the graphical quality it is surprising how well it runs, with quick loading when changing areas and seamless traversal around the cities and buildings that require no load screens.
Overall, Yakuza Kiwami 2 gets a 9/10, it makes a much bigger impact than the first Kiwami game and has succeeded in making a much higher quality experience. Some content was cut here and there but has had newer content added in to replace such cuts. Combat has changed smoothly into more of a group fighter with a more focus placed on RPG aspects, gaining experience is relatively easy with plenty of options to do so. I am greatly pleased with how different the game was, especially after the disappointing change from Zero to Kiwami. While the price is £10 more than Kiwami, it might be worth it if you’re a fan of the series, £25 is still incredibly cheap for the amount of content on offer.