Damn. We cannae
speak Japanese to save ourselves, and every time we pop the phrase
‘The Sopranos of Our Lives’ into a different translator we get a
different result. So if ‘我々の生活のソプラノ歌手’ actually means something
dumbarse like ‘hamsters are very suspicious in rubber tubing
supermarkets’ then we beg forgiveness, please.
One ace thing about SEGA’s wonderful Yakuza series is
that, despite its hyper-Japanesiness, you don’t need to understand
the lingo to get into it – deep into it.
There are lengthy cutscenes which play out like the tough guy soap
opera they actually represent, with Japanese voice acting left
intact and subtitles for those of us of a more monolingual,
Anglicised bent. It’s kinda like watching SBS, complete with potty
mouths and rather raunchy bits.
As is usual in the underworld – we assume, from our vast intake of
mob flicks and series’ over the years - it all comes down to money,
turf, respect and power.
There are four chapters to meander through, each bringing a new
character to the fore. You have story-propelling tasks to achieve in
the open world-ish remix of Japan in which you saunter, but
there are more options than a Rubik’s zocchihedron when it comes to
potential distractions. You can mosey about getting into fights, in
which you use limbs or wield handy environmental objects (our fave
being a humongo mo-fo traffic witches hat), collect locker keys,
play arcade games, chuck darts, go bowling, do karaoke, flog golf
balls, get a ‘massage’... or just run around knocking people over,
’cos it’s fun.
Violence is voraciously violent, which may bother the squeamish (meh,
go get Peggle). Meanwhile,
the interwoven stories are so strong and skilfully executed (heh)
that those who like drowning themselves in great interactive fiction
will have a fab time getting all soggy. Arigatouverymuch.