Although it has never quite achieved true mainstream success, Sega’s Yakuza series has been a fan favourite for quite some time now. The fifth entry was first alluded to last year during the announcement of the creation of the Rya Ga Gotoku studio. The main focus of the team then was Binary Domain, and with that now out of the way, they are in full swing on Yakuza 5. This week’s edition of Famitsu (via Andriasang) brings us the first official details and reveals that they are really stepping up their game for the latest in the long running Playstation exclusive series.
First of all comes the news that a new engine has been created for the new game. The reason for this is that they see Yakuza 5 as a new beginning, with Dead Souls (Of The End in Japan) represented the end of everything that had come before. It was already announced that certain presentational elements from Binary Domain will be carried over, but what these are is unclear. In spite of this change, the game will still retain the spirit of its predecessors, with adventure and battle parts, with more side-missions and activities than ever before to sink time into when not following the campaign. Apparently, changes will be made to the graphical style, as well. Hopefully they aren’t overly drastic, as I find the series to have a rather pleasing aesthetic.
Even were this built upon the Criware middleware engine that they have used all along, it is certainly painted as the most ambitious offering to date. Five characters will be playable, with Kiryu Kazuma, Taiga Saejima and Shun Akiyama returning from the previous entry, while a new character Tatsua Shinada is a former baseball player that was banned from the sport for gambling. The final character is Haruka, Kazuma’s adopted daughter/niece, which should make for quite a different play style.
Alongside this is the fact that the game will take place across five cities, Tokyo, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Osaka and Nagoya, with each character apparently relegated to each city, at least to begin with. As you may expect, it will feature a winding narrative that brings each of these characters together at points and should be quite the powerful emotional experience if the previous entries are any indication. It will also be a follow-up to Yakuza 4, though approximately two years have passed since then.
Improvements to the formula apparently come in the form of a seamless transition between adventure and battle, the script being the largest and most “dynamic” to date, and improved controls across the board. It is currently planned for a Playstation 3 exclusive launch in Japan in December, though Western gamers may have to wait up to a year for localisation (if it even occurs), if history repeats itself.