Yakuza Kiwami Review – A Blast From The Past

Sega started the year off with a wonderful surprise in the form of Yakuza 0. The series has been around for a decade, but that prequel entry held the door open for new players who hadn’t yet been admitted to the club. I was among those new players and, like many, I was excited to continue following the adventures of Kazuma Kiryu and company. Yakuza Kiwami makes it simple. It’s a PS4 remake of the PS2 original, and a direct successor to Yakuza 0 – both in presentation and narrative. It’s mostly more of the same great game, though it’s noticeably stifled by being bound to a 10-year-old release.

The series has been compared to Grand Theft Auto, but it’s more like an open-world RPG/brawler. Rather than focus on driving around and causing mayhem, your character wanders the streets of a fictionalized Tokyo district, battling bad guys and enhancing his arcade-inspired fighting abilities.

Yakuza Kiwami’s story begins several years after the events of Yakuza 0, with Kiryu now a respected player in Japan’s criminal underworld. He gets caught up in a murder and ends up serving 10 years in prison. After his release (and a merciful time skip), he has to unravel a mystery involving murder and the theft of 10 billion yen. It’s melodramatic stuff that teeters on the edge of being needlessly complicated, but the cast of menacing thugs and honorable criminals kept me from being tempted to skip the lengthy cutscenes.  

While the campaign veers toward being self-serious, it’s a hard turn from the side missions. These optional diversions make up the bulk of the long running time, and they primarily focus on helping citizens by giving them items or offering some form of protection. Most of these feel like relics of the original release, and they don’t often expand the formula in any interesting ways like some of Yakuza 0’s did with weird trivia or one-off stealth sequences. I understand this is a remake of a decade-old game, but that doesn’t make the repetitive side missions any easier to stomach. Minigames including darts, pool, and skill-crane challenges are back, and they’re a nice break from all the fetching and fighting.

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Sega added some new activities that weren’t in the original release, including the return of Yakuza 0’s pocket racers and a bug-battling arcade game, each of which includes a multi-stage quest chain. I enjoyed catching up with Pocket Circuit Fighter and the crew of kid racers, and even though they’re clearly getting older, they still enjoy racing the customizable toys. I wish I could be as enthusiastic about MesuKing: Battle Bug Beauties. This card game is a dead-simple rock-paper-scissors challenge, with the main attraction being that you watch women in skimpy insect-inspired costumes grapple and writhe around. It’s creepier than a bucket of centipedes, and absolutely no fun at all.

The biggest addition is the inclusion of the new Majima Everywhere system. You can’t play as Goro Majima in Yakuza Kiwami, but he does play a newly elevated role. Kiryu got a little soft during his time in prison, according to Majima, and the character wants to help Kiryu get his mojo back. He helps by challenging Kiryu to random battles in the world. These encounters can be as simple as running into Majima, or getting jumped in the middle of another battle. He also pops out from under manhole covers and a variety of strange disguises. Each battle rewards you with experience to upgrade your abilities, as well as a chance to unlock moves in your special dragon style of combat. Combat is simple and satisfying, with over-the-top animations that add weight to the brawling action.

Majima’s transformation from Yakuza 0’s stoic nightclub manager to the so-called Mad Dog of Shimano is jarring, and there isn’t any connective tissue that explains it in any satisfying way. That’s largely a criticism of Yakuza 0, but a new explanatory cutscene or two would have gone a long way. I learned to tolerate his oddball Joker-meets-Jar Jar persona, however, possibly because most of our encounters ended up with me smashing a bicycle over his back.

I had a lot of fun with Yakuza Kiwami, but it occupies a strange place. I commend Sega for the extra lengths it took with the remake – including replacing the Western actors from the original release with all-new dialogue from the Japanese actors – but feels like a relic at times. The game’s overall scale is still impressively large, but there’s only one main area to explore. Visiting the first entry, enhanced as it is, certainly gave me a greater appreciation for the strides that the series made later. That’s probably not what Sega was hoping for here, but it’s unavoidable considering the close proximity to Yakuza 0’s release.

How to Get Free Loot Boxes in Overwatch With Amazon Prime

While many games let you buy items outright, Overwatch only offers items through Loot Boxes. You earn one each time you level up, but can also purchase them with real money if you want a certain item and need to speed up the process. But if you’re an Amazon Prime member, there’s a special gift waiting for you: anyone who’s part of the Twitch Prime service can grab five Loot Boxes for free. This offer is only available until September 10 — after that, another free set will appear in October. Start by visiting the Twitch Prime Overwatch page. If you’re not…

Read the full article: How to Get Free Loot Boxes in Overwatch With Amazon Prime

Swipe Right For Party Members & Bizarre Quests In Questr

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Tinder was one of the last things I expected to show up in a video game, but Questr puts the mechanic to great use. With randomly generated adventurers that come with their own personality, you’re tasked with grabbing those you like and creating a team capable of completing the quest and reaping the rewards.

In Questr, you’re no doubt to find yourself on many unique adventures as the developers provide 20 different personalities that can shake up a quest. You’ll have to trust your instincts as best as you can, though, because liars will disguise themselves to dip their hands in your coin purse. Perhaps you may even find yourself caught in the middle of a disagreement between party members as personalities clash!

The game has a total of nine different story paths coupled with many unique encounters along the way. Pairing these encounters with the personality feature is sure to bring about some interesting dialogue from the varying personalities, as each person handles things differently. If you want hilarious and bizarre stories full of drama and traitorous rogues, look no further than Questr. You’re guaranteed at least a few hearty chuckles.

Just don’t take a few bad matches personally. It’s them, not you.

Questr is currently in Early Access on Steam here! You can also check out the developer’s site and Twitter!

‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ Is Effectively Dead After Bioware Announces An End To Its Single-Player Updates

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The saga of Mass Effect: Andromeda has seemingly been brought to an end in its video game form. While the game will continue on in a multiplayer setting, planned updates to the single player game are now canceled. This confirms a rumor reported by Kotaku back in June and seemingly puts to rest any future within the Andromeda galaxy for the series on consoles.

Another part of the rumor notes that a planned sequel has also allegedly been scrapped, but no official confirmation from Bioware has been released yet. The announcement about the lack of single-player DLC did receive an official confirmation, though, and marks a series departure from well-crafted single player expansions that have been praised in past entries in the series:

With each patch, you let us know we were heading in the right direction, and we’re grateful to everyone who joined us on this journey. We’re proud of what we created, and we hope you enjoyed it as well.

Early in development, we decided to focus Mass Effect: Andromeda’s story on the Pathfinder, the exploration of the Andromeda galaxy, and the conflict with the Archon. The game was designed to further expand on the Pathfinder’s journey through this new galaxy with story-based APEX multiplayer missions and we will continue to tell stories in the Andromeda Galaxy through our upcoming comics and novels, including the fate of the quarian ark.

Our last update, 1.10, was the final update for Mass Effect: Andromeda. There are no planned future patches for single-player or in-game story content.

The game has only been on the market for five months at this point and faced some mixed-criticism upon its release, something that the studio did intend to address at the time. As Polygon notes, reports indicated that “most of Mass Effect: Andromeda was made in the final 18 months of development” and major portions were either rushed or didn’t come together as planned. This also led to the reported reshuffling of Bioware’s Montreal studio, turning the series developer into a support studio according to Kotaku and placing the entire series on hiatus for the time being.

Andromeda was met with mixed reviews when it was released — we noted that it was a fine game despite this negative cloud floating above it — and faced criticism for it’s animations that spawned its own memes and videos mocking the game. As it stands, the future of the series is up in the air for now. A break could be good for the series following this game, but it is also concerning considering how long the development cycle was for Andromeda.

(Via Polygon / Ars Technica / Kotaku)

Brave The Haunted Woods And Nightmarish Horrors Of Darkwood

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You won’t be defenseless in your tense travels through Darkwood‘s oppressive forests and shadowy structures. But being able to defend yourself doesn’t equal safety. With meager supplies, slipping sanity, and improvised weaponry, Darkwood pits you against dread-inducing nighttime, otherworldly horrors, and surreal atmosphere as you explore its isolated setting and meet its otherworldly inhabitants.

After an unsettling prologue, you’re let loose in an woodlands cut off from the world, where night brings lurking terrors waiting to tear you apart. During the day, you must explore and scavenge, collecting items to craft useful tools such as bear traps, planks with nails, and bandages, and doing missions for the weird and twisted characters that live here. Barricade the doors and windows of your hideout, keep your generator full with gas, prepare syringes that upgrade your character with both positive and negative perks. And then wait till nightfall, where the real dangers come out.

Rattling breaths and footsteps in the unseen darkness, doors creaking open, horrible things screeching outside…the excellent sound design and overwhelming danger makes every night full of dread and tension, especially when your defenses fail, the lights go out, and monsters breach your shelter. But Darkwood is more than just the cycle of daytime scavenging and nighttime survival. While the map layout is randomly generated, specific locations and scripted events are not, so you have a consistent narrative, random hand-crafted events to react to, choices to make, NPCs to talk with and quests to complete.

Darkwood can be purchased for $14.99 on Steam and GOG; you can learn more about developer Acid Wizard Studio through their site, Twitter, and Facebook.

‘NBA 2K18’ Will Feature Long-Awaited Changes To MyTEAM Mode

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It’s that time of the year again where developers start revealing new wrinkles in their games that are set to release in the next two months, and NBA 2K18 is no different. In a developer blog released by 2K Studios, the team revealed the new additions to the popular MyTEAM mode in the vaunted NBA 2K series.

The first big addition to MyTEAM is the ‘Pack and Playoffs’ mode that allows gamers the opportunity to start fresh with a random pack of different players. The game mode is emphasized by two things: skill and chance. The chance part is the bigger factor as there may be times when a player might get a team full of stars like LeBron James and Steph Curry on their squad, or they may end up with a bunch of lower-tier players. But that also factors into the second emphasis of this mode: skill. Because whether one has the higher or lower-tier players, it will always be about the application of those skills in order to take whatever team they have as far as they can.

In addition to pack and play, 2K Studios also announced that coaches will also be selected, and that certain players will be far more effective in certain systems. For example, a coach like Scott Brooks is listed as being a more post-centric coach, which means players like Anthony Davis or a Demarcus Cousins will be far more effective rather than perimeter big like Ryan Anderson.

The biggest addition to MyTEAM mode might be the SuperMax Mode, which puts a figurative salary cap upon the teams you can put together, meaning that players brand new to the mode won’t be playing against teams with All-Diamond and Ruby-Carded players. Instead, it allows veterans and newbies the chance to get a fair game in from day one.

“We’ve built a system that adjusts individual card’s cap values based on how often they are used,” wrote Associate Producer Peter Conforth. “If everyone is using the same card then the cap value of that card will increase. Some cards could be so popular that their value increases to “Super Max” levels. You will need to think carefully, balance your super stars with role-players, and seek out hidden gems that others may have missed.”

Those are just the big additions, and Conforth and 2K Studios have in fact promised more announcement for the next iteration of NBA 2K18’, which releases on September 19. For more updates keep an eye on the 2K Studios developer blog on Facebook, or if you want to know why Dwyane Wade is upset about his 2K rating or how a developer got his job with 2K Studios, keep it right here on Uproxx.

Twitch acquired video indexing platform ClipMine to power new discovery features

 In an announcement about a set of new discovery tools, Amazon-owned video game streaming site Twitch also unveiled that it recently acquired Palo Alto-based video indexing platform ClipMine. The startup’s technology is now being put to use to translate visual information in videos – like objects, text, logos and scenes – into metadata that can help people more easily find… Read More