Yakuza: Of The End Preview
It’s one of the lesser known quality franchises out there, primarily because it’s heavily Japanese in nature and North America is typically a year behind (it takes quite a while for a new entry to make it to US shores). Therefore, we’re already talking about what appears to be the final installment before the last, Yakuza 4, is even available in this country. But that’s okay, because we often like to catch glimpses of the future…even if it happens to be a relatively distant future. Besides, it’s hard not to talk about the seemingly drastic gameplay change applied to Yakuza: Of The End: rather than a focus on standard melee battles – ala Double Dragon or Fighting Force – Sega is implementing third-person gun combat. They’re also tossing in hordes of zombies. Now, this may turn off avid Yakuza followers, but we’ll certainly be interested to see the final fresh-feeling result.
Let’s start with the well-known Kamurocho district, which has been a staple of the series. The entire city has been overrun with the living dead, and the army has engaged a protective barrier around the besieged metropolis; the rest of Japan can be saved but Kamurocho inhabitants are fairly well screwed. This is why four major characters from previous entries will have to spearhead the fight against the zombies: Kazuma Kiryu, the awesome protagonist, Ryuji Goda from Yakuza 2, the evil-looking Goro Majima, and Shun Akiyama from Yakuza 4 (with whom US gamers have yet to become acquainted, as noted above). The first big change is that rather than controlling Kazuma the whole time, all four of those main characters will be playable in Of The End, and each will have a special weaponry skill set. Kazuma gets a high-powered rifle – yeah, I’m thinkin’ sniper time – Ryuji gets a heavy-hitting Gatling Gun, Goro has a powerful shotgun, and Akiyama wields dual pistols. Obviously, certain situations will call for certain weapons, so maybe we’ll be able to switch between all four characters on the fly…? Also remember, all characters will be able to snap up other firearms they happen to find.
Over the years, the zombies in our video games have become faster. They were quicker and more agile than ever in the last Resident Evil, and they’re flying all over the place in the Left 4 Dead games. Therefore, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the nasty undead flesh-eaters in Of The End will be especially speedy. They’ll be super aggressive and probably won’t care at all that they’re running directly into gunfire. On top of which, the four heroes will have to deal with other freakish monsters as well, and if need be, vehicles will be at your disposal. It may prove beneficial to hop in something and start mowing down entire throngs of zombies, and don’t forget about the dynamic environment. We’ll be able to cause explosions that decimate dozens of invaders at once, and we’ll even be able to destroy certain elements of our surroundings that might fall and crush our foes.
And don’t think Sega won’t retain some of the classic elements of the franchise. For instance, the big city allures and mini-games will still be there; everything from table tennis to fishing, mahjong and darts. Oh yes, and those hostesses will be back, too. We’re still not entirely certain if we’ll have hand-to-hand combat as an option to the “gun shot battle” feature, though. That’s what Sega is calling the new firearm feature, by the way; it’s supposedly a little different from the standard third-person shooter mechanic. What we saw at the Tokyo Game Show this year certainly looks promising, and we’re hoping we’ll hear more about Yakuza: Of The End before 2010 disappears. In the meantime, we’ll also keep an eye on the US release status of Yakuza 4. Here's hoping it shows up soon!
9/28/2010 Ben Dutka