Reader Review: Yakuza 3

Reader Review: Yakuza 3

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Rohan does, as he elbows SEGA’s gangster-themed adventure in the face.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Rohan Carter. If you’ve played Yakuza 3, or just want to ask Rohan more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Yakuza 3 (PS3)

In hindsight I think I went into my time playing Yakuza 3 in the best possible frame of mind: curious. I had read on various gaming blogs and various sites about the impending release of Yakuza 3, shrouded in controversy with its seemingly ‘sacrilegious’ omission of stalwart Japanese cultural references and nuances particular to its predecessors. I didn’t know much about the game beyond these facts and that it existed somewhere in the realm of a Japanese GTA.


Meticulous Construction: The environments exude the realism one would expect from a “next-gen” title, creating an atmosphere rather than simply an area, an approach that brings to mind the latest incarnation of Liberty City and even The Getaway’s London, a visual experience based on capturing the feel of an environment.

Fighting: The fighting mechanics work right out of the gate; easy to jump into at first, exhibiting a few nice animations and real sense brutality. The gauge system hints at a depth to be explored by powering up moves and unlocking others via experience. Picking up a bicycle from the side of the road and beating the living shit out of someone until they are writhing in agony in a pool of their own blood on the side of the road, with a crowd of spectators cheering and clapping around, while you stand triumphant holding only a blood splattered wheel, is pretty damn cool.

Localisation: The decision to not overdub the original Japanese voice acting is definitely a step in the right direction, simply pausing to imagine the same game with some cheesy phoned in American voice acting slapped over the top only gives me deathly cold shudders up and down my spine.


Pretty Vacant: The whole open world appearance is an elaborate ruse designed to suck you in with the seemingly awesome possibilities exhibited by the extravagant visuals, only to drag you into a cursed labyrinth of invisible walls and dead ends. Why did they bother to create these richly detailed environments only eschew any interaction with them? There is none of the freedom that typifies a GTA and this in turn shatters the illusion of a real world, alive and thriving, and most of all your immersion into this world.

Fighting: The combat fails to live up to its potential. The depth hinted at earlier never materialises, even with the upgraded skills and attacks the battles deteriorate into mindless button mashing, with blocking only seldom needed in boss battles. My biggest complaint with the combat is there’s simply not enough of it, as soon as its begins, its over, and with no control over who you fight and when it only serves to reinforce the notion that there is less to the game than what is initially insinuated.

Story: An exorbitant amount of time explaining the story leading up to this – the third in the series – even offering the option to go back and traipse through the epic tales of the previous games at your leisure. This may be an accurate account of the affairs of a Yakuza operation, but such interjections become annoying. The Tarantino-esque narrative jumps do nothing to enhance the happenings within the game (and those that happened before in the other games) and the frequent and lengthy exposition only succeeds in getting in the way of me doing anything.

After my time with Yakuza 3 I find it hard to understand what so many other reviewers are talking about. Yakuza 3 should not have to rely on its status as a cult game to be accepted or applauded, it should be judged in its merits as a game first and foremost. Unfortunately it doesn’t have any: it’s boring, it’s dated and it’s really not worth the time.

Reviewed by: Rohan Carter

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words – yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


  • I’m going to defend this review. Yakuza is a sandbox game with options for sidequests and mini-games. What is wrong with comparing this to GTA?? There is NO roleplaying in FFXIII yet we would have no issue calling it an RPG would we? I think the comparison is fair.
    Yakuza 3 is dated. Almost no ambient soundtrack to muffle the sound of Kiryuu’s shoes. No traffic noise despite being in the most dense areas of Japan modelled on Shinjuku. After living in Shibuya for 3 years Yakuza somehow makes Tokyo seem boring. It would take the most hardened fan-boy to argue this. Oh and the cuts are still retarded no matter how you look at it. A dated game watered down.
    If Japanese companies could do art design and concept and utilise Western gaming engines effectively then maybe their games would stop sucking (this is excusing Fumito Ueda, Hideo Kojima, Shinji Mikami, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and the No More Heroes dude). Oh and f*** you Final Fantasy xiii…You broke my heart.

    • The characters in FF13 battles as classes of tank, attacker, buffer, healer and debuffer. I fail to see how that’s NOT RPG. You may not be running around a wasteland shooting zombies but you’re still role playing. Double standards ?

    • ?? Well while your busy “getting” Yakuza (in the same way that others might get laid/get a bagel, I’ll go and do something far more entertaining… Like watch clouds form into phallic shapes… Or… Nah I like my first idea

  • Likening it to a massive sandbox game, all about interaction with environment, is in no way missing the point its setting a standard the reader can understand quickly and effectively.

    The comparison is made and vlidated by the writers evidence of playing and correlating gameplay between the two even.

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