Fireside 2.1 ( Emergent Gamer Podcast Blog Wed, 03 Oct 2018 18:00:00 -0400 Emergent Gamer Podcast Blog en-us Yakuza Kiwami 2 Review Wed, 03 Oct 2018 18:00:00 -0400 c8d28b4b-653a-42a6-a351-0fc973532190

Review by Andy

While It was only a few months ago we bid farewell to Kiryu in Yakuza 6, SEGA has now dropped a complete remake of the second game in the acclaimed Yakuza series, Yakuza Kiwami 2.

Kiwami 2 picks up about a year after the first game, which received its remake last year, with Kiryu still dealing with the events that led to the loss of his childhood friend and sworn brother Nishkiyama.

He is sucked back in to the Yakuza life he wanted to leave behind, and as such Haruka, the daughter of the only women Kiryu loved, is absent from the majority of the story this time around as she goes back to stay at the Sunflower Orphanage while Kiryu heads on back to Kamurocho. The game will also give you a little refresher of the previous games events if needs be.

From here we are taken on one of the best stories in the Yakuza series, with tensions between the Omi and the Tojo at an all time high, and Kiryu carrying out the dying wishes of the pervious Tojo head, Terada, to try and forge a alliance between the 2 groups.

As is a standard in the Yakuza series, we have cast a varied and interesting characters, including some returning favourites like Kashiwagi, Date and of course, Goro Majima. We are also introduced to one of the few female characters that feature in the forefront of the series, Kaoru Sayama, a detective with the Osaka police.

We get this pair of Kiryu and Sayama through the majority of the game, and it is great to see a natural bond form between the 2 characters over the course of this 20± hour adventure, and Sayma’s arc in the story and the reasons she has for her actions make you really connect with her more so than the majority of the other side characters present. She is without a doubt the most interesting character in Kiwami 2. Her arc is extremely compelling, and melds into the main narrative without it ever feeling like a pointless and uninteresting story dragging the main overall plot down.

We also get introduced to Daigo Dojima, who some may remember meeting as a little boy in Yakuza 0. Kiryu goes off to find him in order to bring balance back to the Tojo as it’s new chairman and to help him form the alliance with the Omi. While he as a character was never really shown or mentioned much in the previous titles, apart from the aforementioned cameo in 0, he is still a very interesting new addition to the cast with his own reasons for doing what he does.

The villain of this game, Ryuji Goda, is also one of my personal favourite villains of this series, with him butting heads with Kiryu. Ryuji commands an intimidating presence, his tenacity and willingness to do whatever he needs to achieve his goals undeniably proves he is more than capable of showing he can go head to head with the legendary Dragon Of Dojima. Just whatever you do, don’t call him the Dragon Of Kansai, he don’t like that.

People who have also played last years prequel to the entire series, Yakuza 0, will remember the area of Sotembori, the area where you’d play as Majima, and this time as Kiryu we make a return. The area is laid out very much the same, but of course much time has passed since that game, the Caberet Grand is still around, but of course a bit different and under new management. A third area was present in the original PS2 release of Yakuza 2 but it has been cut out of this game all together, however the game does not suffer from this and nor are you missing out on anything, which is good to hear.

The combat in this title is as always excellent, and it carries over all the refinements made in Yakuza 6. The flow and the fluidity of the combat really shines, especially when pulling off some awesome combo moves. The upgrade system is also very simple as it was in 6, and while it wasn’t complicated by any means in any of the other titles, its simple and straightforward design allows simple and clear direction of what does what. The food system from 6 is also carried over, meaning you can still go to restaurants to replenish your health, but with the additional bonuses introduced with 6 of giving you a few extra points to upgrade Kiryu’s abilities.

Heat actions are present as always, and still hilariously brutal in some instances. Some of the coolest heat actions are at certain points in the story, one of my favourites early on involving a chandelier. Also when fighting against boss enemies, when you get their health down low it’ll give you a “Feel the heat” prompt enabling you to pull off some boss specific action finishers.

This game however does suffer from a few issues in it’s free combat sections. Especially present early on in the game, at certain points you will encounter a big guy blocking your path holding something above his head, such as a chair or a sign, and these guys while they do not have that much health, they break up the usual quick paced and frantic battles, with an almost dead stop while you have to beat these guys down to progress, all while dodging their attack as it’ll knock you straight to the ground and drag out the encounter even longer. Now if you have any weapons with you they can be taken down rather quickly, but just in these early sections in-particular you don’t really have access to any and you are still not far in upgrading Kiryu to do more damage to them. But by the time you are about halfway through the game and Kiryu has a few upgrades under his belt, they are not much of an issue anymore.

I did have some other issues while playing the game. After completing chapter 3, I no longer received any trophies whatsoever. Now while personally I am not one for trophy collecting, it is nonetheless still a concern. After completing the story and realising I hadn’t been receiving trophies since the end of chapter 3, I looked around online too see if this was a wide issue but I found no evidence of it happening to anybody else so it may just be a small issue that effects a very small number of players. I had this same issue with Yakuza 0 as did a friend of mine but all the trophies unlocked for us both with a later update, so hopefully the same happens here.

Side missions are also present throughout the game, and one in-particular is probably the most strangest and slightly disturbing in the series, and those familiar with the series that have not played 2 before may be surprised to hear that, given some of them in the other games, but to those who have played, you know all too well. But they are for the most part fun and interesting distractions to the main story. The clan creator introduced in 6 also makes a return in this remake, and is mechanically the same with putting you in a top down view controlling various people to defeat waves of opponents while also defending your assets.

Another one of the bigger main pieces of side content along with the clan creator is managing a cabaret club. Players of Yakuza 0 in-particlar will be familiar with this as it was also one of the side activities present in that title. While it is not as big as in 0 it comes with a much more interesting sub-plot associated with it that made it much more enticing to play that it’s 0 counterpart.

Majima is a playable character in this title, with his own little story taking place over 3 small chapters. While he is very much the Mad Dog we all know and love, these additional sections are not particularly interesting, and without the ability to upgrade and expand the abilities of Majima, even the combat as fun as it is can start to suffer at times, but this was still overall a nice little bonus added in. He is of course involved in the main story so we do get to see interactions between him and Kiryu, and it is always a delight to see these 2 characters interact, and Majima is also present in the clan creator side content.

The world itself is also in need of some praise. The few hub areas you go to in the game are so full of NPCs, shops and things to do it feels great to just wonder around and spend some time in the arcade, or quite literally just aimlessly wonder getting into street fights with random thugs. Wether is the bright shining neon lights of the town at night, or the bust bustling streets during the day, it really gives the impression you are in a living and breathing world.

For those that have not played all the games and do not have access to a PS3 in order to play Yakuza 3 through 5 fear not! Sega is releasing those title on the PS4, and while none of them have yet been dated for over in the west, I imagine it’ll only be a matter of time before we get some dates with how popular the series has become here in recent years. These however will not be complete remakes like Kiwami 1 & 2 were, just more along the lines of straight HD ports on the PS3 titles, while slightly disappointing to some people, coming from someone who has not too long ago played those titles, they are not old enough games to the point where they will feel overly dated to play, so no real need to worry on that part. Yakuza 4 & 5 however are playable on PS4 through Playstation Now, which is a viable option for those who have internet fast and stable enough to play them via streaming. In any case, soon all 7 games in this legendary series will soon be playable natively on the same system, and if you have a PS4 you currently have Yakuza 0, Kiwami 1, Kiwami 2 and 6 available to play native on the console, but in the case of 6 I’d recommend to play the previous games to get a full grasp of the story, as while 6 is a game you could jump in and play having only played what is natively available on PS4, and does do a good job of getting you up to speed of the main events of the previous mainline games, you’d still be missing out on some of the context and the history these characters share. Plus they are just superb games that are well worth your time.

Also if you are a PC player, SEGA is now starting to release the Yakuza titles on PC, starting with Yakuza 0 and continuing on With the Kiwami remakes, and hopefully they do release the full catalog of titles on the PC platform, as the more people that play these games means the more SEGA will keep giving us.

Overall this is not only an excellent game but an excellent remaster, the game looks, sounds and feels beautiful. The atmosphere of wondering around the various areas of the game really do make you feel that you are a part of a living breathing world.

Now having played Yakuza Kiwami 2 means I’ve finally played through all of the mainline Yakuza titles. And while Kiwami 2 is not my favourite game in the series (that’d be 6), it still beats outs all of the others to become my second favourite in the series. It’s world, characters and story are so engrossing, I never wanted to put the controller down, and while not perfect by any means, its still most assuredly worth the price of purchase.


Follow Andy on Twitter at @Andy_SR_2

Marvel's Spider-Man Review Fri, 14 Sep 2018 11:00:00 -0400 01f3cffd-0666-45ca-98de-0dac1ffdaf61 With great power comes a great Spider-Man

Flying High in Marvel's Spider-Man

Flying High in Marvel's Spider-Man
Spider-Man has seen many game iterations over the years.  He translates perfectly to the video game space, from his traversal across the city to the way he pummels enemies with his acrobatic feats. This is Insomniac Games first foray into the Marvel space coming hot off their release of 2016’s Ratchet and Clank. They have entered Spider-Man’s world to show you their vision of what this arachnid crime fighter is capable of. Insomniac has shown in the past that feeling of movement through a world is important as shown in 2014’s Sunset Overdrive. With the freedom to tell their own story, has Insomniac pulled off a new age of Spider-Man and possibly the future of subsequent games? Let’s find out, spoilers ahead. Setting the game 8 years into Pete’s Spider-Man career shows us a more experienced Spider-Man.  Peter, a fresh post-grad, works for Octavius Industries as assistant to none other than Otto Octavius. As his assistant, he and Peter are working in making prosthetics for the good of humanity. Seeing the relationship between Otto and Peter is a refreshing take on the dynamic between them, giving it a father and son dynamic. Peter looks up to Otto as a great man doing great things for the world. In his personal life Pete has his Aunt May, a shining beacon of all that is good in his life.  She works at F.E.A.S.T., a shelter for homeless and those in need. The most important trait that Peter and his Aunt share is, if you have the ability to do good, be great. This has always been the core of Peters character and we see it reflected in his Aunt. Mary Jane is here and a much more fleshed out role which is fantastic. Most versions reduce her to some damsel or set dressing but not this MJ. She is Pete’s ex and a reporter for the Bugle looking to get the next big scoop on crime that is permeating throughout New York City giving her character the agency that she previously never had.
![Aunt May](
Aunt May is a great moral compass for Peter, especially when he doubts himself
NYC is sprawling, featuring the island of Manhattan, giving you tons of buildings and parks to explore and fly through with Spider-Man’s webs. Traversal feels good and the animations look fluid as you hold R2 to sling webs from building to building. Holding in the left thumb stick lets you do a nose dive to the ground and hitting R2 uses that momentum on the swing to throw you forward giving the satisfaction of a long-distance swing. The camera plays perfectly in these cases as it closes in on Spidey’s back giving you the feeling of inertia and weight to your movements. While fast travel is available and provides fun scenes of Spidey on the NYC subway, why take the train when you can fly across buildings? Changing up the different ways you can spring off buildings makes it very satisfying moving across the city.
![Combat is fluid and fun. Easy to learn difficult to master](
Combat is fluid and fun. Easy to learn difficult to master
Combat is a tricky thing to get right in games like this. Since the Batman Arkham titles, we’ve seen many developers take their own spin on it and Spider-Man is no exception. Spider-Man works well as a brawler, with flashy acrobatic moves and an arsenal of web gadgets at your disposal. You are given a wide range of ways to take down your enemies. You have dedicated attacks, web, dodge and gadget buttons; using these together will create a dance of disaster for your foes if you know how the enemies will react to them. For example, some enemies will have batons when you hold your attack button it sends them into the air allowing you to continue your combo midair. Guns are the bane of Spider-Man’s existence, but no worries when you can use your webs to disarm them or you can close the gap by zipping in. The focus bar builds as you dish out attacks on foes giving you the choice of healing or given button prompts for flashy Spidey style take downs. It goes deeper than this which I won’t dive into, but once you get the hang of the combat it feels good. You feel in control of the fights and you finish them with flashy flair! This leads me to what I think is the weakest part of the game: the stealth play. I’m a huge fan of stealth games, this is no secret, when stealth parts are in the game I worry that it’s just an afterthought. With Spider-Man you get multiple perch points around the areas (and city) where you can take down unsuspecting enemies: You get one button to web them up and attach them walls or hang them from posts; you can sneak close and hit the attack button to do a takedown; or from any point you can to a long distance web zip takedown, which could end up being the one that gets you alerted. By using your Spidey Sense enemies will show whether or not taking them down will alert others as well as outlining them on screen. One trick they give you is to web a nearby object to distract groups and split them up. By the end of the game I end up just zipping around taking them down faster and faster after spending most of the time treading carefully. It doesn’t bring the game down but it also feels like mostly an afterthought with multiple reused animations (though when webbing up a baddie watching them hit their head before getting cocooned is hilarious).
![New York has never looked better!](
New York has never looked better!

Did I say stealth was the weakest part? Oh, I apologize, I meant to say the puzzles. Imagine playing a game where you can climb walls, swing from the city rooftops, and stop a car chase while being shot at by bank robbers then it comes to a screeching halt when you are forced to pick up a tablet in game and solve the most mundane of puzzles. One puzzle is similar to the Bioshock pipe game where you redirect the electric current to the goal using different pieces in a grid like fashion. The other puzzle is a kind of match the lines in various sets of blocks with the pieces provided. I usually like a good puzzle thrown into my action/adventure games for a break in the action, but usually they are better when thrown into the game world, think Uncharted or Tomb Raider where you use your tools or ingenuity to solve problems. These are just boring and not what I want to be doing when you are frickin’ Spider-Man. I get that they want to show how much of a genius Petey is but dang these were a slog. However, there are a few world puzzles like zapping an electric box to open locked doors. Could these even be considered puzzles when all you do is follow the wires on walls to the box? I don’t know about that.

Easter Eggs a-plenty

Easter Eggs a-plenty

They trickle out the skills you acquire at a pace that feels right. Once you get the hang of one new trick you’ve learned, the game gives you a new one for your toolset. This also goes for the way the game doles out your collectables. Early in the game, when Pete gets his new flashy suit after his previous one gets torn up from fighting Fisk, his old backpack trackers light up on the map. These are great to collect because they show you what Peter has been doing as Spider-Man for the past 8 years of his tenure, filling you in on all the details of his life until this point. Soon after more things to collect and do open up. I really appreciate this instead of dropping a metric shit ton of map icons on you, the game lets you breathe between collectables and it never feels like a chore.

Peter is worried about MJ getting in danger but no longer is she a sidelined character.

Peter is worried about MJ getting in danger but no longer is she a sidelined character.

One way the story changes up its gameplay is letting you play as other characters. At certain points of the story you’ll find yourself playing as MJ and another well-known Spider-Man character Miles Morales. During these segments you’ll find yourself sneaking your way through areas, trying to avoid getting caught while doing investigative work, or just trying to make it to safety. I appreciate that they tried to change up how the game’s story is shown to you rather than just through the eyes of Spider-Man. While having the game slow down to a point isn’t necessarily great, playing other characters does change things up and allows the heavy action pieces to breathe.

Finally, we have the story. I can’t say for certain that I didn’t see the twist coming, but they heavily hinted it when we first see Otto Octavius. The story will take you back to his lab, where you work, and each time you visit you see the subtle hints as Otto declines mentally and where he is pushing his technology toward a familiar goal. He isn’t the only character Peter deals with personally and in costume, there are a wide array of main stay Spider-Man villains including the Sinister Six themselves! For most of the story you are facing Martin Li. When you first meet him, he is a friendly business man who wants to make his city a better place by running the shelter along side Aunt May. Later we learn of his alternate personality of Mr. Negative. Holding a long personal grudge with the city’s mayor, Norman Osborn, Mr. Negative makes it his personal goal to make him suffer for a traumatic past inflicted by Osborn. After putting down Mr. Negative and sending him to “The Raft”, the high security super villain prison, all hell breaks loose. Your mentor, Otto Octavius, reveals himself to be the master mind behind the attacks on Norman Osborn. Throughout the game you see Otto’s personality deteriorate as you try to help him with his work dropping hints of his inevitable future as Dr. Octopus. The story balances these little hints perfectly until the moment arrives he is revealed as your enemy. I still gasped even though I saw it coming because you can see how much it hurts Peter making Otto the hardest villain to take down. The game ends with a fabulous conclusion of a fight making it satisfying and heart breaking to say the least.

Special suit unlocks let you use the Spider-Man of your choice.

Special suit unlocks let you use the Spider-Man of your choice.

I won’t give everything away here as there are more surprises to be found. I can easily say this is one of the best super hero games since the Batman Arkham series without a doubt. Insomniac has something special on their hands and I hope to see more within this new take of the Spider-Man world. They have set up a magnificent universe sprawling with easter eggs hinting at a bigger Marvel world. The game ends with you wanting more and hopefully more is what we will get. I highly recommend this to any fan of Spider-Man or anyone who love’s action games with heart, and heart this game has in spades…or spiders.

Special thanks to Taylor Kowitz (Channingtater) and LockeandKey

Follow me on Twitter at @neo_aoshi

All Images are Property of Marvel’s Spider-Man for the Sony Playstation 4 Console.