Yakuza Kiwami 2

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Yakuza Kiwami 2 Game Poster Image
Classic Japanese crime sequel gets rebuilt and revamped.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Main focus is on participating in a variety of activities and enterprises on behalf of organized crime families in Japan. While players are trying to solve a mystery of sorts and stop a gang war, they still must return to their criminal ways to do so.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most main characters that players either play or interact with are members of the Yakuza. A few have their own code of honor but don't give a second thought to their criminal activities.

Ease of Play

No shortage of activities to participate in while searching the city, including mundane (but fun) distractions like playing full Sega classics in the arcade. Some activities, as well as the combat system, require timing and precision, which can take a fair amount of practice to learn.

Violence

Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a brutally violent game. Combat can include all manner of weapons, including knives and pipes, and often features on-screen blood splatter. Special attacks can show more damage with weapons, such as bashing out teeth and pulling off fingernails. Cutscenes also feature even more intense graphic violence, including characters getting shot in the head or blasted with a shotgun.

Sex

No nudity, but plenty of sexually suggestive moments. Some characters have lines of dialogue referencing sex. Sounds can be heard in some areas implying sexual activity. A photography mini-game has players take pictures of models, emphasizing cleavage and rear ends.

Language

Profanity is used frequently in dialogue, including "f--k," "s--t," and "ass."

Consumerism

This is the latest chapter in the Yakuza franchise, which has multiple installments.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are often shown smoking and drinking. Player's character can drink alcohol in bars and even get drunk, affecting in-game performance. Doing so even rewards the player with character experience.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Yakuza Kiwami 2 is an action/adventure game with role-playing elements, available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows-based PCs. The game is an enhanced remake of the original Yakuza 2 game from 2008. The player's character is a member of a Japanese organized crime family, or Yakuza. As a result, criminal activities are often at the forefront of the gameplay. The game features constant depictions of blood and graphic violence on-screen, both in combat and in cinematic cutscenes. There are a few sexually suggestive moments, whether it's in lines of dialogue, background noises, or the sexualized portrayal of some of the characters. Profanity occurs frequently in the dialogue, and both drinking alcohol and smoking are shown on-screen.

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What's it about?

Players can revisit the saga of Kazuma Kiryu and his world of organized crime in YAKUZA KIWAMI 2, an enhanced remake of the original PlayStation 2 hit, Yakuza 2. Picking up after the events of the original Yakuza game, Kazuma Kiryu has left his criminal past behind to find a sense of peace and family. But when the current head of the Tojo clan is assassinated, Kiryu is forced to return to his former life in order to stop an all-out war between the Yakuza families. Now, Kiryu must use his influence and skills to broker a peace between the Yakuza, find a new leader for the Tojo clan, and save those dear to him in the process. The game also includes an additional prequel scenario, "The Majima Saga." Set between the events of Yakuza and Yakuza 2, this story focuses on fan-favorite character Goro Majima, detailing how he went from operating within the Tojo clan to leaving the family and starting his own successful criminal organization.

Is it any good?

For roughly 15 years, this series has told the epic tale of Kazuma Kiryu's struggle to leave behind his past as a member of a crime family and the events that keep pulling him back to it. Yakuza Kiwami 2 turns back the clock a bit, retelling the chapter first told in the PlayStation 2 classic, Yakuza 2. The game has been rebuilt from the ground up, and it shows. The visuals are crisp, colorful, and detailed. It's hard not to spend a lot of time in this open-world adventure just admiring the scenery and taking in everything the city has to offer. Players can stroll into Club Sega and play some classic arcade games, have private photo shoots with a couple of models, or work off some tension in the batting cages. While these mini-games do earn players a little extra experience, money, and other items, they also break up the action and make things feel more real. After a while, walking around the city can lose a little bit of its charm, thanks to the long pauses between activities. Still, it's an interesting way to get a glimpse at some Japanese culture that players might not otherwise experience.

Of course, players don't just spend their time lounging around and taking in the nightlife. There's a lot of action, and it's also been revamped for the remake. Although combat might seem like just a simple beat-'em-up, it's actually a complex mix of timing and chaining moves together. The fighting can feel sluggish at times, and it can be frustrating when an enemy breaks up a combo and beats the player down for a bit. But there's also a thrill in things falling into place, watching a foe get beat in a successfully executed Heat Attack. Over time, players will start to get used to the more methodical combat system, making it easier to fine-tune Kiryu's martial arts prowess, though it never feels quite as responsive as it should. Rounding out the content, the added Majima Saga scenario is almost a full game unto itself. While the gameplay doesn't necessarily feel like anything new, it's a lot of fun to step into the shoes of the outlandish, half-crazy "Mad Dog of Shimano" and see the fan-favorite character get some real development. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Yakuza Kiwami 2 affected by the blood and gore shown in the game? What are some of the ways that violence is portrayed in video games? How can brutal and graphic scenes of violence affect younger gamers, and what can parents do to help kids process such content?

  • How important is it to accurately represent different races, cultures, etc., in entertainment? What are some ways that games, movies, and so forth either reinforce or break stereotypical representations?

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