Sixteen months after the initial Japanese release, those of us in the west have finally received a proper English-subbed PS4 release of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. And as the first Yakuza game made exclusively for current-gen hardware, we were excited to see how well the streets and shops of Japan hold up.
Sega released a demo of Yakuza 6 earlier this year, but it had to be temporarily removed because players could actually play the entirety of the game for free. Whoops! It’s back up in its intended form, and all of your progress in the prologue will transfer over to the full game. If you want to get a feel for the style of storytelling and combat, it’s well worth an hour of your time.
Over at IGN, our sister site, Yakuza 6 received a Good score of 7.5/10. Reviewer Tristan Ogilvie praised the lack of loading screens when you start a fight or enter a building, but he wishes they had swung for the fences with a combat overhaul. But overall, it feels like a more polished and streamlined experience than the previous Yakuza games – highly recommended as a jumping-on point.
The combat is easy to pick up in this iteration, and that’s great for first-time players, but some of the complexities found in Yakuza 0 or Yakuza Kiwami are nowhere to be found here. Similarly, it seems that the side activities have been shaved down a bit, and large parts of the game are surprisingly empty compared with other recent releases.
On average, other outlets are more fond of the game than IGN is. With 82 reviews on record, Yakuza 6 enjoys a metascore of 83/100 thanks to a number of excellent rankings from the likes of GameInformer (93/100) and GamesRadar+ (90/100). Even if it isn’t the most innovative installment in the series, there’s still more than enough of the classic Yakuza charm to win over the hearts of new converts and diehards alike.
In terms of visuals, the Dragon Engine developed for this release is a nice step up. The lighting effects here are lovely, and they meaningfully add to the ambience of both quaint small-town Hiroshima and the gritty streets of Tokyo. Digital Foundry hasn’t done a full breakdown of the finished product, but its analysis of the 2016 Japanese demo is still worth checking out for a better understanding of the engine improvements.
The demo ran at 900p with a 30fps target, and it seems like that’s roughly on par with what shipped on the vanilla PS4. The back of the box says that the game enjoys PS4 Pro enhancements as well, but it’s clear that we’re not dealing with anything close to 4K. DualShockers has made up a handy comparison, and the differences in visuals are minor.
All said, it’s a fine looking game, but it desperately needs better anti-aliasing. Jaggies and moiré patterns are highly noticeable throughout your adventure, and it detracts from an otherwise lovely aesthetic. Most visual nitpicks we typically bring up are only relevant to fellow super nerds, but the aliasing here sticks out like a sore thumb. Hopefully, the next major installment will have a proper AA solution.
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