10 points, 1 vote
Matt D: Underworld melodramatic soap opera and karaoke simulator. It’s an old-fashioned action-RPG, sending you wandering around its massive world searching for some arbitrary trigger to advance the story with depressing regularity but the environment is so fantastically well rendered that you walk away from the story at any time and find something to do, and it’s charm / presentation is more than enough to overcome its deliberate anachronisms. The NA version apparently has a pile of cut content and I’m hoping for more localized development in #4.
Daniel_Rf: The most fun I’ve had doing chores for children ever.
Jamescobo: It sucks that they’re removing content, but I never got as much into the hostess stuff as other Yakuzatards so I’m not slitting my wrists over it or anything. As long as I can still win a fight with a tiger by sticking a cigarette in its eye, I’ll be good. Anyone who doesn’t buy this game should be reincarnated as Amy Winehouse’s taint.
Cozen: Massive, despite the cuts.
30 points, 3 votes, 1 TOP GAME vote
Mitch Krpata: The most tragically overlooked game of the year. Great story, great action, and some truly inspired setpieces. Just brilliant. It’s not a hit, of course. I’m not sure most people even realized it had been released in this. The original Yakuza was superb — even made my top 10 for 2006 — and sank like a stone in the marketplace. Maybe better marketing would have helped, or maybe the inherent problems in localizing such a culturally specific game put Yakuza behind the eight-ball from the start, but by the time Sega decided to release the sequel stateside, they hadn’t even bothered recording an English-language track. They may as well have affixed stickers to the front of each copy saying, “Even we know you’re not gonna buy this.”
Jamescobo: It really is astounding how much ass Yakuza 2 kicks; even the (entirely optional) introductory catch-up on the previous game’s (invigoratingly unobjectionable) plot keeps interrupting itself to offer you another opportunity to skip straight to the part where you start wrecking shop. Within fifteen minutes into the game, you’re walloping people with bicycles. Within half an hour, you suddenly realize how fast this game is loading, probably because you’re jumping into any and every battle you can find. Within an hour, you no longer give a shit about the concessions it makes to the now-busted PS2 architecture; the fact that the elements with which you can actually interact are so glaringly obvious becomes completely irrelevant the first time you see an abnormally huge orange traffic cone, think “Damn, that’s one big-ass cone,” pick it up in order to flatten someone with it, and notice it’s called “Huge Cone”. It’s not a case of a game not taking itself seriously, either; it’s a case of a game which wants to reward you for checking stuff out. AND THE WHOLE THING IS LIKE THAT; it gives and it gives and it gives, even when more than a little is sufficient (QED the Mahjongg mini-game with its twelve pages of in-game instructions). The combat system, while not necessarily deep, is as fun to master as anything since the last Mario & Luigi game thanks in large part to the HEAT moves – invariably awesome QTE super moves which change based on your environment and/or weapon (crushing some punk’s skull with a Huge Cone, for instance). The game’s plot is amazingly nonretarded; I still can’t believe how rarely I check my email during a cutscene. And as if all that weren’t enough, the game’s (or at least the translator’s) humor seems to actually be legitimately, intentionally funny. Don’t even get me started about the peacock.