Ryu Ga Gotoku in Japanese literally translates into ‘Like a Dragon’. This is the fourth instalment of the action based RPG series developed by Sega which first appeared on the PS2 back in 2005. The story follows Kazuma Kiryu a former Yakuza, as he delves back into the dangerous world of the Japanese criminal underground. The basic premise of the story is that Kazuma has given up on a life of organised crime in Tokyo and has moved to the southern Japanese island of Okinawa. He has started a new life and has setup an orphanage there with his adopted daughter Haruka. But unfortunately for Kazuma, his past comes back to haunt him and he is implicated in a tug of war of soughts for his orphanage. Plans to redevelop the surrounding land into a holiday resort sees Kazuma tackle political figures, rival gangster and also a secret international organization known as The Black Monday. With the scene set, the question raised is can Ryu Ga Gotoku 3 play like a dragon as its translation suggests? Can Sega produce a game that can capture the spirit that may be befitting of the mythical creature?
The gameplay is set between the fictitious Tokyo district of Kamuro (loosely based on Tokyo’s Kabuki district) and the island of Okinawa. As I touched on briefly earlier, this is an action based RPG game in a very similar mould to the Shenmue series off the Sega Dreamcast and the old Xbox. This entails long but well versed dramatic cut scenes, plenty of QTE (Quick Time Events) that require the right combination of buttons to be pressed during these cut scenes, and generally a lot of too-ing and fro-ing from one locale to the next. There are a lot of random battles with the many Chinpira (hoodlums/thugs) and Yakuzas that roam the streets of Kamuro and Okinawa. These nasty characters may approach you asking for things such as your wallet, and if you refuse or bump into them, then a battle ensues. The fighting is one of the significant parts of the game and it’s pretty much a button mashing free-for-all once they begin. The fighting mechanics are simple enough with a quick and light attack, a slower and heavy attack, guard and a throw button. Combos can be learnt and used throughout the game which works on a points system. The more fights you are involved in, the more experience you gain and that can be used to level up your attacks. With more powerful attacks gained and learnt, the fight may go into a dramatic cut scene for any number of your special combos. Stomping your opponent while they’re down has never looked so good or been so much fun. During the fights your character can pick up and use practically anything that may be lying around, be it a bicycle, table, chair or a sign post. Weapons such as baseball bats, katana blades and guns can be taken off enemies or bought throughout the game. Boss fights in the game are more melodramatic and require you to fight strategically to defeat each one. No one boss fight is the same and you really have to mix up and vary your attacks. The main story mode comprises of 12 chapters and took me well over 20 hours to complete. There are also plenty of side missions and mini games included as well. My only criticism with Ryu Ga Gotoku 3 is that there is no online play besides some downloadable content. There are also four modes of play from Easy, Medium, Hard and Ex-Hard levels. There are rewards and trophies that can be attained which gives the game some replay value and points and rewards earned throughout your campaign carry over when you begin the game on a harder difficulty after completion. Other features include a series of fight scenarios which can be replayed outside of the main game. For instance this could involve a major fight scene from the story mode which you can replay as a stand alone battle. Win this battle and you will unlock further battles and rewards for your trophy collection.
Ryu Ga Gotoku 3 is a beautiful game to behold. The character models and especially the cut-scenes are outstanding and well executed. There has been a lot of attention to detail made on characters facial expressions, body language and they really do come to life in a true to life vivid way. Even with people walking on the streets, there’s quite a vast array of different character models varieties. Sega have produced a really amazing and tantalizingly beautiful game to look at, a visual treat. The detailed environments are also something else. Walking on the busy streets of Kamuro really felt like I was actually back in Tokyo.
The voice acting is solid throughout the game and the musical score is well composed yet at the same time isn’t overused or draw too much attention away from the action. With the battle sequences, you can really hear and feel every hit as it’s delivered with such vicious impact, you can’t help but cringe sometimes. In brief, the sound in the game works well without it being too prominent. It’s present in small doses to compliment the games astounding visuals and gameplay.
The game features a wealth of interactive environments. At anytime before, during or after a mission, you can head to an arcade game parlour and have a go at a couple arcade games. If you’re thirsty then you can head to a bar and have a drink, shoot some pool or throw some darts. You can also go tenpin bowling, grab a bite to eat somewhere, do a spot of fishing, some golf or some gambling. If you want to kick some butt, then enter an underground MMA contest for some extra pocket money. But my favourite haunt was visiting a hostess bar. This is where I had the most fun and you can spend hours trying to sweet talk one of the many attractive hostesses/escorts in the game. If you play your cards right, then you can go on a date with them. You can take her to a karaoke bar; go for a drink or some fine dining. This is all an accessible part of a day in the life of Kazuma Kiryu in the world of Ryu Ga Gotoku 3. With 12 chapters and a plethora of side missions and mini games, this will keep you occupied for quite some time. Definitely great value for money, and for those of you brave enough to endure the daunting Japanese text and dialogue, I seriously recommend this title. The only let down is the limited downloadable content. A couple more extra side missions would have been fantastic. But having said that, the replay value on this game is very good and it’s the type of game that you could always keep coming back to.
Ryu Ga Gotoku 3 is a masterpiece of a game by Sega. This plays out like some big box office hit action movie. The developers have put together an excellent script for the story which is intriguing, suspenseful and absorbing. The story is well written and once fully immersed into the game, it really does leave a lasting impression. You will fall in love with some of the characters you encounter, especially the kids from the orphanage. There are some touching moments in the game, and it can all become quite captivating. I found it really hard to put this game down at times. Obviously with the game progression, there’s always that element of wanting to know what happens next. Ryu Ga Gotoku 3 has a good balance of action and RPG with involving cinematics. The game has an easy learning curve and you can pretty much get straight into it from the onset. From the beginning to the end, Ryu Ga Gotoku 3 will take you on an amazing rollercoaster ride that will mesmerize and engross you into the transient world of the Japanese underworld. Sega have done an outstanding job in painstakingly bringing all this to life. This game is not anything new or groundbreaking so to speak, but it certainly is a gaming experience you won’t soon forget.
AAG Score: 9.5/10
1. Breathtaking visuals.
2. Well composed soundtrack.
3. Solid action based RPG game with good fighting mechanics.
4. Lengthy and involving story mode with 12 chapters and additional side missions.
5. Great replay value.
1. Unless you can read Japanese, this game maybe difficult to access.
2. Limited online factor with only a handful of downloadable content.
Reviewed and Written by Yuto Hayasaka