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January 25 2010
Yakuza 3 - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
18/3/2010SegaSegaAmusement Vision
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
1None$109.95
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Yakuza 3 is an impressive PS3 exclusive.
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Offering some comfort...

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Facial animations and textures are stunning.
Can you tell us what the biggest PS3 game was in Japan in 2009? If you guess Final Fantasy XIII you would be correct with almost 1.8 million units sold. But what came second? You may be find that it was this game, Yakuza 3, or Ryu ga Gotoku 3 as it's known in Japan, with an equally impressive 500,000 units sold. While Sega had no intentions of bringing this to the West they changed their minds given the number of requests from gamers - let's hope this converts to sales for them... Anyway, onto the storyline...

Kazuma and Haruka, having severed their ties to the Yakuza world, have left Kamurocho to seek a new life in Okinawa where they manage an orphanage for children. However, their peaceful life is soon interrupted when a series of events unfold pulling Kazuma back into the shadowy past he thought he had left behind, in order to protect those he loves.

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Getting into a cage fight - Yakuza style!
If you've played the two previews games in the series which appeared on PS2 (the first of which is reviewed here) then you will know what to expect from this game. It's primarily a third person action-adventure game (although you can look in first person mode by pressing R3 in this PS3 version) and is split across 12 chapters. As well as the 12 chapters though there are 133 "sub-scenarios" which are split up into around 113 side-missions and 20 "hitman" missions.

The developers have recreated locations in Tokyo and Okinawa in which the game takes place while you can also partake in a series of activities including buying items in licensed shops & businesses to eating in restaurants you can find on actual streets of Tokyo. Mini-games are again a major part of the franchise and you will be able to play billiards, play poker or blackjack, sing karaoke (we don't think that means you can use the Singstar mics sadly) or even take in a game of golf.

New to this game are the seamless battles (no loading), ten Revelations which sees Kazuma Kiryu recording new abilities or moves to his phone camera and thereby learn them, and a chase battle which, as it sounds, see characters sprinting through the streets - one being chased, the other the chaser with characters losing stamina as they run into objects.

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Serving up some food...
Visually Yakuza 3 does impress and runs at 720p native visuals, and 1080p upscaled. While some backgrounds an dlocations can look a little plain the characters are superbly detailed and animated. Indeed the developers created 110 high-polygon characters (these are the main characters and ones that may appear in cut-scenes) which use around 18,000 to 20,000 polygons each as well as a further 250 low polygon (4,500-7,000 polygon) characters in minor roles. The game also makes use of Sega's proprietry Magical V-Engine which allows Sega to scan in faces and animations, with particular attention to wrinkles and then provides phonetic lip synching. We also have to mention the cut-scenes. According to the BBFC there's a whopping 295 minutes of cut-scenes in this game.

While there has been some confusion about the audio on this release we can confirm that the voiceovers in the game will remain Japanese with subtitles provided in English (and we suspect a few more languages for the European market).

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That's a pretty brutal punch in Yakuza 3.
This third game is going to have a bit of a battle on its hands to make an impact outside Japan. It's not because the quality of the game game is questionable - it almost certainly promises to impress - but more likely because the game is coming out in one of the most crowded months in video game history. It will be sitting on shelves alongside Final Fantasy XIII, God of War III, Heavy Rain (due in late February/early March) and possibly Sega's own Resonance of Fate. This though is a very interesting game in its own right and we suggest you check it out.