Sega's iconic Yakuza series now has a very cool spin-off so get ready to meet ex-lawyer now-detective Takayuki Yagami.
Before starting Judgment, I didn't quite know what to expect. Would it be the same as a Yakuza game or will it be more like a visual novel? Thankfully, it's neither. There are definitely elements from the Yakuza series such as exciting combat, rewarding character growth via learning skills, and the fact that it takes place in Kamurocho. However, its core gameplay consists of a huge variety of tasks such as taking photos of crime scenes, tailing suspicious individuals, piloting a drone to spy on crooks, chasing thieves through the streets with quick time events, and much, much more. The end result is a consistently exciting adventure that'll make you constantly wonder what you'll end up doing next. Heck, even strolling the streets just to see what sort of stuff you can see and do is great fun on its own.
To tie all of these gameplay elements together, you're treated to a very detail-oriented story that initially involves Yagami helping with a case in order to reinforce a Yakuza family boss's alibi. Throughout the process, Yagami is highly suspicious of the person that he's trying to prove is innocent but considering his past life as a lawyer saw some seemingly dire missteps, he decides to go about things in a much more methodical manner. In other words, even if he has to defend horrible people, you can always tell that he has the big picture in mind and will end up doing more good than bad. The story that follows is full of twists and the cast of characters is incredibly engaging to watch as the plot unfolds. That being said, the story drags on a bit at times, especially when details keep being repeated ad nauseam. Whenever this happened, I couldn't help but think, "Okay, I get it already..." Then, a summary would start playing as if I needed it.
As you progress through Judgment, you'll encounter oodles of side stories and extra content that add hours upon hours of gameplay. Whether you're taking on a case with its own separate story or completing side missions to strengthen your relationships with a select few residents of Kamurocho, it's easy to become distracted from the main story. So, if you have trouble focusing like I do then you'll have a great time accomplishing all sorts of enjoyable tasks throughout the city. Aside from carrying out missions, you can also play Mahjong and Shogi, whack some balls at a batting center, and enjoy many Sega classics such as Puyo Puyo, Fantasy Zone, Space Harrier, Fighting Vipers, Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, and even a goofy spoof of House of the Dead called Kamuro of the Dead.
Even though Judgment features tons of variety, some parts can be downright irritating. For example, segments where you have to find very specific things may have you aimlessly search for minutes without knowing what the heck you're doing. One part tasks you with flying a drone around a building in order to find someone specific and it took me forever to figure out where to find the dude because the mini-map kept changing thus removing the mission marker so I thought that I was on the wrong track whenever that happened. However, I was actually on the right track and even after accepting an onscreen prompt to receive a hint, no substantial hints were provided so I kept flying the drone around aimlessly until I luckily found the guy but then he moved somewhere else so I had to start the process all over again. There are a few more portions like this but I figured this one's a good example to illustrate my point.
Finally, one minor aspect that regularly took me out of the experience is the fact that the main cast of characters all look fantastic but almost every NPC is generic and silly looking which makes them stand out like sore thumbs. Whenever I carried out a side mission, I found it very distracting how the people I had to talk to seemed like they were ripped from an early PS3 game. Of course, I don't expect every character to look as good as the main cast but the difference in quality here is surprisingly jarring.
Out of all the Yakuza games that I've played, Judgment offers the most amount of fun and variety while also containing a gripping story that'll keep you guessing until the end. I highly recommend it.
- + Awesome variety of gameplay throughout
- + Engaging story and characters
- + Solid amount of additional content to master and mini-games to enjoy
- - Some segments can be rather annoying
- - Story drags on too much at parts
- - Many NPCs look generic and goofy