Well, I guess I’m reviewing another Yakuza game! Wait… This isn’t Yakuza…
Judgment is a game made by our lovely lads at SEGA and Ryu Ga Gokotu Studios, and boy do I have some thoughts on this game.
I’ve been fully invested in the Yakuza series ever since I got my hands on Yakuza 0, which easily became one of my favourite games of all time. Since then I’ve reviewed Kiwami, Kiwami 2 and 6, and I admittedly got fairly burnt out after Kiwami 2; I just wasn’t feeling the Dragon Engine and what it was offering. It was like this amazing story was just waiting for me and I’m blocked of by a crappy framerate and less engaging combat than the previous engine…
Since the story of Kazuma Kiryu has come to an end, it seems like the team wanted to work on something else before going into Shin Yakuza, and boy lemme tell you, if Shin Yakuza is gonna be anything like Judgment or better – We have an amazing couple of years ahead of us.
So Judgment is like any Yakuza game. But instead of playing a hard as nails Yakuza who has a heart of gold you play a disgraced lawyer and a lot of the game’s story can be compared to Pheonix Wright in a way because – and a lot of people don’t know this – the Japanese legal system is fucking weird… And Pheonix Wright in itself has always been a satire of the Japanese legal system.
Anyways, our main man is essentially a star lawyer after winning a case that was almost impossible to win, proves the defendant not guilty and then finds out the next day that the man he saved murdered his own girlfriend. Fun. He now works as a detective because he’s just a sad dude and doesn’t want a screw up like that again… So he’ll get justice the ol’ fashioned way. By punching things. HARD.
I always forget how brutal and dramatic the story of these games can be because people tend to focus on the goofy shit, and of course that stuff is there and it’s as great as ever… Probably some of the best time burners in gaming come from this studio, and they’re always a blast. You got dating, side-cases, arcade games, drone races. The usual Yakuza stuff pretty much.
Anyways, the story is as good as ever. Yes, it’s corny as hell, but fuck you I love me some cheesy ass story-telling. It hits a certain sweet spot of hype and emotional investment that things that take themselves super-seriously don’t.
I also believe our leading man in this game has a lot of potential with his own series, but that’s getting a little too ahead of ourselves… Now it’s time for me to talk about frame rates!
WOW, THIS ACTUALLY RUNS GREAT!
My biggest problem with the Dragon Engine Yakuza games has always been that it feels extremely barebones – The scope of the games increased yes, but it was at a trade-off with an unstable frame rate and toned down combat.
I’m happy to report that Judgment’s combat is fun as all hell, the frame rate is a stable 30 on my base PS4, the game is huge and there’s a lot of places to explore… And BOY THIS GAME LOOKS PRETTY.
The combat is also pretty much the same thing you’d expect but it feels a lot better and there’s a lot more to do. Also having hotkeys to your healing items is the best quality of life improvement this studio could have ever done for their games. You get two styles, one for crowd control and one for one on one combat. Both feel amazing and, of course, Heat moves are back and are now called EX moves… And boy does it feel amazing landing these again.
The other spectrum of gameplay you get is extremely barebones sleuthing. You get surveillance missions, and tailing missions, and missions where you examine photos and… zZzZzZzZ…
Not to say it’s bad, but it gets boring really damn quick and makes me wish I was punching dudes again. It also comes up way too often, and it makes me dread going into other missions because maybe I’m not up for a 15-minute tailing sequence you damn video game.
Look, if you love Yakuza as much as I do then you’ve probably already bought this game. You know what you’re getting when you buy something from this studio – For those who don’t know, and maybe want to get into the series then this is an AMAZING place to start, since it’s so detached from the Yakuza storyline.
Amazing story, runs perfectly, shit-loads of content, and we’re back to having extremely engaging combat. Yeah, this is a good game.
I give Judgment a: