Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is such a huge step up from any other Yakuza game you have ever played. Exploring sleepy fishing towns to the glitzy yet gritty world of Kamurocho, it feels alive with action. Each hour that you play is filled with one surprise after another, slowly immersing you in this beautifully crafted world. The huge, ambitious overarching story is engrossing because it makes you think about complicated and relatable issues like, finding your place in society and holding on to your core beliefs. Yakuza 6 is worth the emotional investment because it retains many of the series best features bundled in this game.?Story?Kazuma Kiryu is out of prison, and it isn’t long before he is caught up in trouble again. Investigating a mysterious accident that landed surrogate daughter Haruka in the hospital and taking on ruthless thugs in the street, all while playing grandpa to baby Haruto. He has his hands full, to say the least. Kiryu sets off to his familiar stomping grounds in Kamurocho and the new setting of Onomichi, a beautiful, sleepy port town in the Hiroshima Prefecture, in order to find the answers he seeks. In Onomichi, the adaptation to a new area adds a rural feel to the citizens. The seaside town does a lot to add to the type of characters you meet there. It paints a picture of just how different the culture of Onomichi is versus the larger city of Kamurocho.?For the cities of the Yakuza games, this is their moment. The Yakuza games (in some way or another) always take place in Kamurocho. The same goes for the player. With every incarnation of the game that the city gets better. More vibrant, action-packed. As someone who played the previous games, you know the back alleys like the back of your hand. The amount of detail that was put into the streets is phenomenal. The lights of Kamurocho are impressive in Yakuza 6, to say the least. Having recently replayed Yakuza 5, it felt like I was seeing it for the first time. It was a mind-blowing difference between the two games.??Gameplay?Yakuza games have great fighting. They almost like fighting games but more simplified. Yakuza 6 does something otherworldly with fighting. It is so much improved from even Yakuza 0. When you are targeting in that game and knock someone out, it feels like you wasted some punches by not going after the others. You can see that in previous iterations of Yakuza. It seemed that especially when you were fighting a lot of enemies, the game was struggling to figure out who you were trying to punch. That did not happen here. This Yakuza 6 combat system is so seamless, so much more refined than the past games. Where you knock someone down and then Kiryu will kick in another direction, therefore hitting another opponent. Every intended target was hit, nothing was wasted.?Somehow the developers given the attacks in Yakuza 6 weight. I believe it is because of the physics, that the Dragon engine is using. The attacks in this game are the same with past Yakuza games. You can do light, heavy, and grab attacks. This game allows you to combo into the grabs. Which helps you immensely because you can use your entire arsenal of moves and chain everything together. Meaning you have so much more flexibility with what you are doing in these fights. This seamless flow of the combat brought an extra life to enemies and the environment itself.?A really big improvement was the loading or I should say the lack of loading. You could walk into a restaurant or arcade with no loading. What I loved, was the seamless transition into battle. No loading screens to buffer that encounter. In Yakuza 6, the equipment system has been simplified to have only two slots to equip defensive items. But there but there is no longer a weapon system like there was in Yakuza 0 and Kiwami.?Huge character progression overhaul. It is a massive improvement from past games. Everything you do gives you certain XPs to your six core XP currencies, like power and speed. These are earned from eating food, fighting and doing side missions. Even the occasional Karaoke can boost the stats of Kazuma.??Every single mission/minigame in Yakuza 6 is a quality experience. It sounds so ridiculous that you are going to a hostess club and ordering a bunch of champagne. It is very easy to get wrong and weird but the human stories that come out of these missions are emotional and worth it. These missions you go on are meaningful to both you and the NPC you are helping. There are these moments where it is not about the game mechanics but the characters having personalities. Finding out about the struggles these characters overcame. These are not just random NPCs that you come across but they have value in this city.?The promise for smoother animations, tighter controls, and higher visual fidelity have been delivered in Yakuza 6 thanks to the Dragon engine. Some concessions were made in exchange for these new advantages. For instance, Kamurocho has shrunk a bit in Yakuza 6. The Champion District, Purgatory, and some other side areas are no longer available. Bowling, billiards, Shogi, and casinos are not around. Sadly, the famed UFO catcher/crane game is all gone as well.?Yakuza 6 has the same mix of exceptional interpersonal drama and over-the-top absurd fights than previous entries in the series do. Like a boxer, it is a leaner and fat better experience. Not as many side missions as past games, but the ones that are there are amazing and a lot of fun.?Yakuza 6: The Song of Life came out April 17, 2018, for the PlayStation 4.?Note: A review code was provided by the developer.?