Yakuza (龍が如く) and Top Gear

Yakuza is quite an addicting game that I finished in just one weekend.  The story is engrossing, the gameplay is excellent, and the graphics are superb.  There is an absurd amount of profanity in this game, but then again it is about the Japanese underworld.  The only issue I had with the game is the lack of an original Japanese dialogue that is available in games such as Dynasty Warriors.

Yakuza for PS2 is still interesting after clearing the entire game.  I will have ample time to enjoy the minigames such as gambling, street fighting, baseball, slot machines, and UFO catcher.  In addition, there are mini-games that involve wooing hostesses in various clubs scattered around Kamuro-Cho (Kabuki-Cho), Tokyo.  One of the highlights of the game is how SEGA manages to create a fictionalised version of Kabuki-cho but still maintained most of the street layouts, buildings, and even the signs of the real district. With the popularity of this Grand Theft Auto-Shenmue hybrid, I can only imagine it would be a matter of time before Rockstar will develop a GTA: Hong Kong that would explore the seedy side of Triads, Chinese Public Security, corrupt politicians, among other things.
This is one of the more popular games in Japan where the sequel is coming out in December and a Takashi Miike film based on the first game is in the works.  I kind of spoiled the story when I watched the J-Drama prequel (also directed by Miike) that was available in the US and European websites for the game by answering several questions that were being unraveled as I got deeper into the game.  The funny thing was, the prequel’s production values were actually on par with a standard J-Drama with 40 minutes set aside for flashback, an attempted rape, violence, and emotional drama in the rain.

My only gripe with the J-Drama was that a 20-something Kazuma was portrayed by a 40-something actor that seemed to be typecast as a Yakuza while the rest of the supporting cast looked like they were at least 18 years of age.  Luckily the characters are being recast in the film version of the game.

In other news, I learned that Richard Hammond of Top Gear or “The Guy from Brianiac on G4” as the Americans know him has been seriously injured in a Top Gear stunt gone horribly wrong.   I wish him the best and he will be ok by the time Top Gear comes back on air


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