Review: Yakuza Dead Souls (PS3)
Title: Yakuza Dead Souls
Tagline: Take a male oriented soap opera and mix in some zombies and guns
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Rent It
If there is a series that I have come to love over the years, it would have to be the Yakuza series. I love the mix between hard and fast brawler and activity based side fare that just eats away at my time. I have been there day one since the second game in the series and have played all of them to completion. So it goes without saying that I was hotly anticipating the latest release in the series, Yakuza Dead Souls. Yes, I was a bit worried that the focus was going to be on zombies, but I figured if there was a game out there that could get me hyped about zombies, it would be a Yakuza game. Sadly, zombies made me hate Yakuza Dead Souls to the point of me patting myself on the back when I was through with it.
The simple premise behind Yakuza Dead Souls is that an infection has broken out in the Kamurocho district of Tokyo, and you play through the infection, with four different protagonists, including two that we have not played as before in the series. Things start off simple enough with a section of the city infected, but shortly thereafter, the infection starts to spread, and a tangled web of information leaves our characters realizing that this is not a normal zombie outbreak, but something far more nefarious.
Actually, after a few hours of playing, you really stop caring about what the reasons are behind the zombie outbreak, because gone is the trademark brawling that made the game so successful and fun to play. Instead, you trademark in your patented fighting styles for guns. Lots of guns. Your characters wield everything from simple handguns to shotguns, and even a character that has an arm that turns into a full blown minigun. I could probably get past the switch if the gunplay was fun and interesting, but it is about as generic as you can get. I stopped caring about the guns, as you never really need to aim, as it is done for you. Sure, there is a manual aim for getting more headshots, but it is rarely needed unless you are up against special infected types.
Having zombies running around is weird enough in a Yakuza game, but stranger still is the idea that all the sidebar activities are still in place as well. At points in the game, you gain access to non-infected areas of town, and here you can go and stop for a bite to eat, hit the batting cages or spend some time with a hostess. It was nice to take a few minutes to get away from battling zombies to take in some of these activities, but they just seem out of place in a world where a zombie infection is taking down citizens at a brisk pace. It also takes you away from the urgency of the story. At one point, the game implored to me that getting medicine to my assistant was super-important, but hey, I will go enjoy a game of darts first, because, hey, the medicine can wait. Of course, the game does not penalize you for taking your sweet time getting to objectives, so the pressing nature of finding out what is happening never presses your time, or forces you into a no-win scenario.
Thankfully, the side missions do factor into the apocalypse happening around you, and they are sometimes more interesting than the main story that you are supposed to undertake. I appreciated the fact that the developers seemed to have fun with the side missions, even creating one that plays on the horror tropes of a zombie movie and the clichés that are present within those movies. Sadly, these moments are far and few between if you are not actively searching them out.
You are still presented with an upgrade tree, and you earn points based on experience, and the skills you unlock are very useful in dispatching zombies, and the boss types that pop up at points in the story. Looking at the boss fights, they are rather creative in what you have to do with most of them. At one point, I had to use a tank to crack the shell of a boss and then aim to hit his weak point, but these bosses are far and few between, and most of the time, you are just mowing down thousands of generic, shambling zombies.
I appreciate the fact that Sega was trying to do something different with the Yakuza series, something that might appeal to a broader audience, but it takes away from the core idea of what a Yakuza game is all about. Gone is the constant infighting between rival families, and the basic soap opera premise that is Yakuza, and in its place is a faceless zombie shooter that just happens to star the Dragon of Dojima and friends.
If you are a fan of the Yakuza series, you might enjoy the standard fare that comes along with that like the activities and whatnot, but if you are looking for the core brawler experience, you might just want to rent it to get a feel for the game. Yakuza Dead Souls is by no means terrible, but it is also not the game that you are looking to play. Instead, hold off and wait for the true sequel that will eventually come, as it will deliver on the face punching fun that you expect in a Yakuza title. Just think of Yakuza Dead Souls as the result of a bad drinking binge – you throw up the next morning and pretend it never happened.
- Entertaining side missions
- Activities are always fun to play and engage in
- First time Majima Goro is a playable character
- Boring main story
- Zombie killing becomes tedious
- The very premise makes no sense in a Yakuza title
Yakuza Dead Souls firmly earns its M rating. Drinking and heavy smoking are present at numerous times throughout the game. Also, you are engaging hostesses, which while harmless, does portray some sexual themes. Swearing is present and comes up quite a bit. Keep this in the hands of those probably 16 and up.