The neon lit streets of 80's Japan act as the backdrop for this game that takes us right back to where it all began. It starts off with a double cross, evolves into a mystery concerning just what the heck is worth so much about a tiny piece of free estate in the city, and our 'hero' being framed for murder, and that's just for starters!
The plot unfolds and becomes a tale of loyalty, hustling and yes respect. (Yeah I know I'm quoting John Cena here but it's relevant). Our hero has to rebuild his damaged reputation and crawl, climb and fight his way back too the top of the heap. Sounds simple but it isn't, and when you add all the side quests and odd jobs, you have a pretty free ranging, open world to explore and engage with. There are mini games too, such as Mah Jong and this can be played on line with others too, earning cash for winning stakes placed on it!
You can even visit amusement arcades and play games within games.
Buy clothing, and customise your character pretty much as you so desire and you can even sing in Karaoke bars. Visit shrines and exchange donations for bonuses and advantages for your character and well there's a lot to do here and I'll leave it to you to explore for yourself.
This not a GTA clone...
The above statement is very true as you go everywhere on foot and if this sounds like a huge grind and a pain in the posterior but you can overcome this by catching a taxi to locations but that of course takes money out of your virtual account. There is no car jacking like you would get in games like GTA or Sleeping Dogs so don't even try it.
But by not exposing you may miss side quests, battle that will give you XP that of course aids you in making your character more skilled and tougher in fights.
Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting...
Combat is predominantly melee orientated, with little or no gun play to speak of. It's fast, and when you get the hang of streaming together combo's and learning new techniques, pretty visceral and brutal with some pretty spectacular takedowns (though not as brutal as those in Sleeping Dogs). In the early stages the most useful tactic is to keep moving and learn to parry and dodge, once you are stronger you can stand toe to toe, but it will still pay to keep moving.
It has a levelling up system that has a tree system that will look a little familiar as it has a passing resemblance to the Final Fantasy sphere grid that we saw in FF 12. If you donate to shrines, this gives you further options that are unlocked on the grid or act in the background as it were. Replay value would come here from learning different mixes as it were and applying them as you see fit. Feel free to experiment.
There are both passive and active skills to utilise here and again we'll leave it to you to discover these for yourselves.
Graphically the game although not mind blowing, looks pretty sharp. Character animations are nice and smooth though there is an issue with some NPC's getting in your way or if you fall too far behind someone you are supposed to be following, he will turn and walk back towards you and then stubbornly refuse to move from in front of you, impeding your progress.
On the whole though you can see a pretty vibrant community with lots going on and you are encouraged to explore, shop and fight your way through the metropolis.
The soundtrack is pretty good and although not memorable, suits the game nicely. Character animations in the cut scenes are pretty darned good and there is no complaints about the lip synching, but sometimes it switches to stills and scrolling text. This seems odd but never mind, it does not stop you from enjoying it. Sometimes there is a lot of talk (common place for JRPG's) but it pays to sit through it as you may miss a clue.
There is very little lag in the game though it can occur sometimes when facing a large number of enemies in combat. The controls are fairly responsive, but there can be a slight delay in input and character action from time to time.
Textures and lighting are very nicely rendered and in cut scenes worthy of any Japanese CGI animated movie with some very nice facial animations.
On the whole pretty darned slick and although not as immersive as GTA, or Sleeping Dogs, it has enough to see and do to keep you occupied for quite some time and then some!
On the whole a pretty decent game.