Life is full of succulent, individual pleasures, many of which can be savored again and again. A cool glass of water on a July day; the smell of the breeze on the first day of spring; curb stomping a tracksuit-wearing thug who decided to start some business when you were just on your way to the hostess club to complete a side mission. That’s the best part of Sega’s Yakuza series after all—You can do pretty much all of those things, and then learn how to drop kick somebody by photographing an underpants thief. They are the best games Sega makes, and new details about Yakuza 5 hint that the consistent series is going to change more than it ever has.
In Wednesday’s issue of Japanese magazine Famitsu (English details from Andriasang), Sega illuminated what it is a calling “New Yakuza.” Yakuza 1 through 4, as well as spin-offs Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan andYakuza: Dead Souls, have all been very similar, focusing largely on the same environment, recurring characters, and unchanging play, both in terms of its marquee brawling and its dialogue heavy storytelling. Yakuza 5 does feature returning characters, but most significantly, it will broaden its scope beyond the fictional Tokyo red light district Kamurocho.
Yakuza 5 will have you play in Osaka and Tokyo, previously visited cities in the series, but also Sapporo, Nagoya, and Fukuoka. Upping the ante from the previous entry, 5 characters will be playable, including series mainstay Kazuma Kiryu and even his would-be adopted daughter Haruka, now an adult at this point. Taiga Saejima and Shun Akiyama, leads from Yakuza 4, will be joined by newcomer Tatsuo Shinada, a former baseball player.
On top of the change in scenery, Sega’s Yakuza Studio has built an entirely new engine for the game and rebuilt the controls from the ground up, addressing two of the major criticisms leveled against the four PlayStation 3 games already out there. Yakuza 5 will remain an exclusive for Sony’s machine as well. Digital Trends reached out to Sega’s U.S. office to see if the company already has plans to release the game on this side of the Atlantic, but we haven’t heard back as of this writing.
The most exciting part of these announcements is the implication of growth in the world. Yakuza has never been about technological progress, but narrative progress has been key. Its characters evolve, and this game represents a significant leap forward in time, promising a new look at the lives of complex personalities. As everyone knows, the greatest pleasures in life are simple and common, but they always get sweeter with age.
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