Yakuza 5 Remastered

released on Jun 20, 2019

A remaster of Yakuza 5

Experience the fifth chapter of the Kazuma Kiryu saga in 1080p and 60fps. Get ready for a Yakuza experience of unprecedented scale! Follow five characters across five Japanese cities, each trying to achieve their dream. The connections between them bring them together, but the conflict that unfolds is nothing any of them could have predicted.

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My review for Cane & Rinse:
My wife and I have been playing through Yakuza 5 together, and at the time of writing this we're in the second "half" of Chapter 3.
At this point it's become quite clear that the bulk of this entry is made up of these individual characters' respective minigame-oriented campaigns, for lack of a better word. I suppose one could skip these segments when given the opportunity, to advance the primary story forward. But I'm so deeply endeared to these different threads. Kiryu's taxi/street racing career, Saejima's hunting/trapping journey, Haruka's quest for idol stardom, whatever Akayama's thing ends up being, my heart is bought all the way in.
But it's not the mini games themselves that interest me. They're fine, they're functional. Taken separately, they remind me very much of SIMPLE2000 releases of yore. The most interesting thing I've noticed so far in terms of (drumroll please) ludonarrative cohesion (I'm so sorry) is the two separate rhythm mini games for Haruka's dancing events as they compare to each other, and relate to their contexts. The mini game for a street dance battle is very improvisational. The button presses come in a shuffled order, with randomized meters subdivided to the song's tempo. Having to select the appropriate track with the d-pad before hitting the corresponding face buttons is, I think, an interesting abstraction of Haruka's personal creative agency and expression in an improv street battle like this. Particularly compared to the mini game for the formalized, rehearsed sessions. Those are events, designed to be practiced to a point of comfortable familiarity, and the rhythm game reflects that. You don't need to select a track, because Haruka knows what's coming and when. This is further cemented by the significantly longer note tracks, giving you ample time to prepare, as Haruka is thinking about the next several steps. This is a practiced routine, she doesn't need to think about what she's doing, only how she's doing it. I hope that makes sense?
Kiryu's mini game is more directly tied to the main thread of the game's central plot, and (Whoops, looks like I either meant to return to this paragraph, or perhaps wrote and deleted something here, my apologies!)
Saejima's may have been an exercise in tedium at times, but it felt like I was helping this digital man do the honest hard work of helping to provide for this village that had saved the lives of himself and his friend. It made me proud to take my large adult son Taiga out to the small "Main St." pathway that serves as the village's communal gathering place of sorts, talk to everyone to learn how he can best assist them, and then load up his gear to go up on the mountain for the day, keeping an ever-vigilant eye out for opportunities to help out the locals.
This is already getting too long and if the resident Sega Arcade Racing Game Dork starts talking about Kiryu's quest we'll be here all day.
Suffice it to say that this game has been a delightfully welcome sherpa-lined throw blanket during a particularly cold and wet Seattle winter. I wouldn't want the whole series to be restructured this way, but having at least one entry that's primarily built out of a bunch of bespoke communal activities has been immensely relaxing. Regardless of anything else, this is the coziest Yakuza game yet.
Edit: I forgot to mention that Haruka's hoodie & t-shirt combo is colored like she's mimicking Uncle Kaz and that's adorable.

Still don't like Saejima's fighting style, wasn't drawn to Shinada's character that much

I feel like I'm gonna gain some enemies with what I'm about to say, but this is my least favorite Yakuza with the original. It's way too ambitious for its own good, with almost forty hours worth of story and five freaking playable characters. The story is way too complicated to follow, even for Yakuza standards, it just keeps spitting new information at you during every dialogue and cutscene, hell the whole fucking story of the final boss is told to you right before you face him. It's also kind of bland? Kiryu's and Saejima's parts are boring as hell, and even if Haruka's offers some much needed variety, I would argue it doesn't get truly good until Shinada's part, which is the most interesting one and has a lot of wonderful characters. The choices for the final bosses are also confusing, with the exception of Saejima's every single one feels either underwhelming or kind of weirdly matched (spoilers here but Baba vs Shinada is the biggest asspull of this franchise).
I may seem like a hater of this game, but I enjoyed it a lot, it's a Yakuza game for God's sake. The combat is as fun as always and revisiting these characters from time to time and discovering new ones is always a pleasure. I just don't get why Yakuza 4 is so underwhelming for so many people and this is a fan favorite.

Probably the best Yakuza game from the PS3 era (if you don't count 0 launching on the PS3 in Japan).

This review contains spoilers

at some point during this game a guy got shot in the chest by my closest ally whom i had to chase down and beat the fear of god into, and then exactly 10 minutes later i was practicing my dance moves for the "princess league" with a cold businesswoman and a gay han solo.
needless to say this game is pretty good.