Yakuza 2

Game review by
Jeff Paramchuk, Common Sense Media
Yakuza 2 Game Poster Image
Intriguing but violent Japanese crime drama.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The Yakuza are an organized crime group in Japan, and you play as an ex-member of a Yakuza clan. Along with the organized crime aspect, the game features racism with slurs being used against other races (Korean vs. Japanese for example), and sexism is apparent in entertainment clubs that you must enter and interact with.

Violence

This is a very violent game that uses realistic violence to convey the story. Blood sprays during fights, and faces get smashed into walls and tombstones, and then stomped on for good measure.

Sex

The game does feature women in various degrees of undress. Your character visits a cabaret club with dancing women.

Language

The game is voiced in the native language of the location, Japanese with some Korean in places. All of the voice work is done in non-English using local dialects, as the Yakuza have a dialect of their own. The subtitles however convey the harsh language that they use, including very liberal use of cussing including f--k, sh-t; and even some racism between different groups of people.

Consumerism

The game does include a lot of commercialism within the core gameplay and cut scenes. The pizza parlor classic 'crane game' can be played within the title, and other Japanese specific soft drinks and items are used as props and mentioned in the game.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol and tobacco are used by characters throughout the title.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this game is the sequel to Yakuza, which came out in 2005 for the Playstation 2. The game is extremely violent and glorifies the lifestyle of the Yakuza, an organized crime group in Japan. The game is filled with heavily tattooed men, scantily clad women, and indiscriminate violence. While the story is engaging and very well put together, the subject matter is extremely mature and is not well suited to younger gamers.

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What's it about?

YAKUZA 2 is a continuation of the story from the original Yakuza title, and it follows the tale of Kiryu Kazuma as he attempts to make competing Yakuza clans patch up differences and follow a life of peaceful coexistence. The story is somewhat complicated with many characters who appear for short periods of time but propel the story dramatically forward. Players who have not experienced the first Yakuza title can catch up on the story, thanks to an optional series of flashbacks that explains what has happened to the characters.

The story and game unfold through a series of chapters which are all self-contained story elements generally connected to a single location, be it a section of Osaka's electric nightlife or a more tame residential area. These sections are filled with exploration sequences where optional side quests can be performed to not only help flesh out characters, but to also add items and gain experience points which can be used to level up various combat actions for Kiryu, basically unlocking more violent ways to kill an opponent. As you walk through the locations in the game you may encounter thugs or other unsavory types who challenge you to a fight, and then the surprisingly monotonous fighting controls take center stage. While the fights can be entertaining at first, it soon becomes apparent that the encounters are all quite similar with hand to hand combat, and liberal use of environmental weapons to assist in your defending your clan's honor.

Is it any good?

Yakuza 2 is an excellent extension of the first game in the series, only changing itself for the better with a more involving combat system and a storyline that expands the excellent tale that was laid out in the first title. The always twisting story makes for a very engaging game, but sometimes the focus on story makes this seem more a movie than a video game. For example, playing through the first chapter and watching the recap from the first title took nearly one hour, during which you control what is going on for only a few minutes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about crime and how it is a worldwide issue, not just affecting North America. What type of person would be attracted to a life within an organized crime organization, and why do all forms of media portray gangsters in a bright light, rather than the shady world they live in? They can also talk about cultural differences within the game, such as the bright neon of Japan and the idea of honor and respect in all circles.

Game details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 2
  • Price: $34.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Sega of America
  • Release date: October 9, 2008
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence

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