It’s been a long time coming, seeing as Yakuza 3 Remastered released over in Asia more than a year ago, but finally it’s released in the West as part of the Yakuza Remastered Collection.  Now we must note that unlike Yakuza: Kiwami 2 and Yakuza 6: Songs of Life, Yakuza 3 Remastered is not powered by the Dragon Engine.  This is a straight port (with improvements) of the Yakuza 3 that released on our shores for PlayStation 3 in 2010.  It would have been nice to have had this game remade using the Dragon Engine, but we’ve waiting long enough for this release on PS4, so I’ll happily take it for what it is.

Personally, I was a late comer to this series as I started with the fantastic Yakuza 0, a prequel to the entire series.  Followed by Yakuza: Kiwami and Kiwami 2, remakes of the two original games that released on the PlayStation 2.  So I’ve been stubbornly awaiting this release on PS4, avoiding the hassle of over-playing for a second hand copy of a last-gen Yakuza 3.  However, seeing as the most recent game in the series that I have played is Kiwami 2, I’m already used to the Dragon Engine.  Going back to a remaster of a PS3 game on the old engine, takes a little getting used to, at least to begin with.

So before going into Yakuza 3 Remastered, I already had the mindset that this is not a game powered by the Dragon Engine, but it was in-fact something closer in terms of gameplay and performance to that of Yakuza 0 and the first Kiwami.  Knowing this, I already set my expectations and as a result, getting used to some of the restrictions encountered in Yakuza 3 was easier to process, thus allowing me to accept the game for what it is at a much earlier stage.  That said, regardless of being on an older engine, and despite being a good nine years old, Yakuza 3 Remastered is still a fantastic game and with the help of the new and improved 1080p/60fps visuals, I quickly found myself immersed in its seductive world of craziness.

The combat in the Yakuza series has never been perfect, but it’s always been fun and while Yakuza 3 remastered doesn’t have the choice of fighting styles seen in later games, it’s still incredibly fun beating the hell out of the street punks that stupidly, continue to challenge Kazuma Kiryu aka “The Dragon of Dojima” to a fight.  Whether it’s levelling up his fighting arsenal, finishing a foe with a brutal Heat move or smashing them over the head with weapons and environmental objects such as the ye olde faithful bicycle or the devastating pot plant.

If you’re familiar with the series, then you will know that you’ll be encountering insane, crazy and wacky side-missions, one of the many reasons fans love this series as well encountering the diverse cast of unique characters.  You’ll also have plenty of mini-games to partake in throughout Kamurocho and the new off-shore island of Okinawa, such as the Sega Arcade, a spot of bowling, sing away at the Karaoke bar and so much more.  As an added bonus, the localisation has also been improved upon and content that was cut from the original 2010 release has been restored for this remaster, which includes more than 20 side-quests, a bunch of mini-games and the hostess club management system.  This content was originally cut from the Western release, as Sega believed they wouldn’t resonate with audiences on our shores, which I’m sure they will be proved wrong on their initial assumption.

As we already know and as I’ve mentioned, this version of Yakuza 3 is a remaster and not a full remake, so it does come with some limitations when compared to new entries in the series, which would be quite unfair to compare at times.  Visually, despite having an improved resolution and framerate, many of the textures do look like a ten your old game at close inspection, but all things considered, this Yakuza 3 remaster has still aged quite well.  So visuals and combat restrictions aside, the biggest issue that I’ve had is with the in-game menu and map.  The menu isn’t quite as polished and finding items and a side-mission status isn’t quite as free flowing.  Likewise, the map has probably aged the most due to its smaller size and points of interest not being as well highlighted.  You can zoom in to get a closer look, but it’s still far more restricted when compared to more recent games.  However, this is a small gripe and such issues should be expected with a game that is ten years old.

Yet one aspect that remains consistent throughout this series is its fantastic voice acting.  From the main man himself Kiryu, the brilliant Goro Majima and pretty much every supporting actor, right on through to the random NPC’s that you’ll meet throughout the story.  As with all games in the Yakuza series, you can only have the Japanese voice actors with English subtitles, but again, if you’re used to this series, this will come as no surprise.  However, what I will say is that even if I had the choice of English voice acting, like we have in the series spin-off Judgement, I’d still pick the Japanese voice actors any day of the week.  For me, it just wouldn’t sound right hearing these charismatic characters any other way.

To conclude, being a remaster, it would be totally unfair to review this in the same way as either of the Yakuza Kiwami games or Yakuza 6: Songs of Life, so going forward, I will be comparing the trilogy of Yakuza remasters in their own bracket.  But just like most remasters, Yakuza 3 Remastered is not only a fan service for veteran fans, but it’s also a great way to experience this game for the very first time, for new fans such as me.  However, after sinking in many hours into Yakuza 3, I can hand on heart so that even if I was playing the original, ten year old PlayStation 3 version, I’d still be having an absolute blast with this game.  But the fact that this has had the 1080p/60fps makeover treatment, it makes my experience with the game all that more sweater.  So finally after all these years, I can truly see what all the fuss was about with this cult classic as Yakuza 3 Remastered has earned a special place in my heart.

  • Yakuza 3 Remastered is included in the Yakuza Remastered CollectionYakuza 4 Remastered will unlock on October 29th and Yakuza 5 Remastered will unlock on February 11th, 2020.  So expect my review for the next two games shortly after their respective releases


Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/solidus5nake