Yakuza Kiwami PC review: The definitive version of a classic

Sega delivers yet another win in its ongoing mission to port its back catalog to the PC.

7

As someone who never had Playstation consoles through the years, Yakuza was a franchise that always flew under my radar. Simply having a console was no sure bet that one would get access to the games on North American shores during their original run, but thanks to efforts from Sega over recent years to remaster or remake the games, the Yakuza series is finding a new audience. Yakuza Kiwami is a reimagining of the original PS2 game that appeared on the PS4 in 2017. Two years later, Sega has delivered Yakuza Kiwami to Steam with a few improvements, providing fans with the definitive version of the eastern classic.

Yakuza Kiwami puts players in the shoes of Kazuma Kiryu, a Yakuza footsoldier being groomed for leadership who choses to take the fall for a murder to protect the people he considers family. A very lengthy prologue details the events and relationships that led to Kiryu’s incarceration. Upon his release, Kiryu discovers that the world he expected to be waiting for him never came to pass.

A difficult choice

Yakuza Kiwami follows Kiryu as he searches for his love interest and attempts to understand a betrayal at the hand of his best friend. While all this unfolds, the recent disappearance of ten billion yen from Yakuza coffers adds an additional stress and sense of tension to the proceedings. Kiryu must slowly regain his abilities lost to the decade in jail through an RPG-esque leveling system that slowly expands and complicates the game’s hand-to-hand combat system.

As Yakuza Kiwami is a game that was thoroughly covered with its original PS4 release (and obviously the 2006 original), I won’t spend too much time on the plot or game design. What matters here is the presentation that Sega is offering for PC players that may be new to the series or looking to experience Yakuza away from console limitations.

Sega: Champion of the PC?

Starting a couple of years back, Sega made a commitment to the PC platform and began the process of porting its vast back catalog to Steam. Starting with the outstanding ports of Bayonetta and Vanquish, the Sega PC team has been on a roll. Yakuza Kiwami is no different, offering meaningful improvements to the original Yakuza story, even going above and beyond the PS4 version and offering most of the platform-specific amenities that PC player expect from the very best games.

The big changes from the PS4 version are the support for arbitrary resolutions and the complete removal of any framerate cap. You can run the game in 4K, 8K, or whatever resolution your heart desires. Ultrawide resolutions are natively supported and letterboxing on in-game cutscenes can be disable by use of a simple mod. If your PC has the juice, Yakuza Kiwami can make use of your 120Hz or 144Hz display. Even the in-engine cutscenes operate free from any artificial cap, providing an ultra-smooth presentation that is unique to the platform.

A wide variety of graphical options are available to toggle within the game’s main menu, though I suspect most players will crank everything to max settings. Yakuza Kiwami is incredibly well optimized for modern PC hardware. The game has built-in supersampling support, allowing the mean streets of Japan to be rendered at insanely high resolutions. The incredible sharpness gives the proceedings a look that resembles misleading downsampled screenshots from gaming magazine from 15 years ago. Even mid-range gaming PCs will be able to play Yakuza Kiwami at 4K with high refresh rates. Only a few of the racing segments carry a 60Hz lock, presumably to keep the physics from going haywire.

The PC version of Yakuza Kiwami simply looks better and runs better than it ever has before. Full support for Xbox and PS4 gamepads rounds out the experience and in-game prompts shift on the fly. The porting team paid attention to the details and the results are great. If I was a rabid Yakuza fan, I would be salivating at the prospect of getting the full complement of these games from Sega in the coming years.

A welcome visit to 2006

Ultimately, I didn’t find myself enjoying the gameplay loop and much of the combat. It is a remake of an older game and it brings along the quirks of that era. Arriving a few years before Batman: Arkham Knight set the standard for cinematic hand-to-hand combat in games, Yakuza’s brawls feel very dated and the semi-open world tasks will likely fail to impress players trying out the series for the first time in 2019. The story the game tells still works pretty well for the most part. I had no desire to learn anything about Kiryu or his acquaintances at the outset of my playthrough, but I found myself glad that I was along for the journey and am genuinely interested in where the narrative heads from this point.

I can’t really knock the game down too much for being what it set out to be - a faithful re-imagining of an eastern classic. This is the standard for which all remastered game releases should aim. Sega’s PC port team deserves another pat on the back for a rock-solid PC release that treats the PC player like a first class citizen. Sure, it’s a few years late to the party, but it showed up to the party with weed and liquor for everyone. 8/10 unbuttoned collar shirts


This review is based on the PC Steam release. The key was provided by the publisher. Yakuza Kiwami was made available for Windows on February 19, for $19.99.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

Review for
Yakuza Kiwami
8
Pros
  • Incredibly well-optimized
  • Arbitrary and ultra-wide resolution support
  • Unlocked framerates, even in cutscenes
  • Great all-around PC port
Cons
  • Dated gameplay
  • Not really playable with keyboard and mouse
  • No English dub
From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 26, 2019 1:30 PM

    Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Yakuza Kiwami PC review: The definitive version of a classic

    • reply
      February 26, 2019 2:13 PM

      I bought this even though I don't love Yakuza combat just to encourage Sega to release Persona 5 PC.

    • reply
      February 26, 2019 2:36 PM

      I played a bit of the start of Yakuza 0. Do the long cutscenes kind of wind down, and the gameplay open up after a bit? Or am I looking at a good representation of how the rest of the game plays out?

      • reply
        February 26, 2019 2:50 PM

        Long cutscenes are the norm in 0. Just buckle in and enjoy the film.

      • reply
        February 26, 2019 2:55 PM

        Bwahahahaha

      • reply
        February 26, 2019 5:15 PM

        Yes, it opens up. Long cut scenes may still bookend most chapters

      • reply
        February 26, 2019 5:22 PM

        both.... it took me maybe 4 or 5 hours to get into it, but then Yakuza 0 became something very special

      • reply
        February 27, 2019 12:12 AM

        don’t really understand your complaint.

        Awesome game is awesome.

      • reply
        February 27, 2019 5:35 AM

        The game has a ton of long cut scenes, but the characters and story get pretty entertaining, so I really enjoyed them. The game play will open up in a few hours, then you'll have side quests galore.

    • rms
      reply
      February 26, 2019 5:35 PM

      Fun-to-read review, as always!