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Cast Your 'Judgment' Aside With The Latest Nex-Gen Version

Judgment PS5 Splash
Courtesy of RGG Studio

Judgment Remastered

Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: April 23, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

Judgment Looks Awesome In 4K

Much like my experience with Metro Exodus, I have a very bad habit of not playing "popular titles" until years after its release. At this point, I couldn’t begin to tell you why, exactly. I’d like to say it’s because I tell myself “I’ll try a game out once the hype is stabilized” (as the hype for games such as these never “die down” per se). That said, this was my first experience with Judgment, and any fears I’ve had going into the game were immediately silenced, specifically the whole “Do I need to play all of the games in the Yakuza series to enjoy this one?”

The short answer is, no you don’t. Yagami’s story is self-contained in that no prior knowledge of the Yakuza series or the Kamurocho neighborhood is required. Fans of the series will appreciate the game’s take on the seedy underbelly of Tokyo, however, as the game is shown in a different light compared to others in the Yakuza series. Rather than playing as a Yakuza member trying to do good by his family and his peers, you play as a disgraced lawyer-turned-detective who must embrace “being bad” to get the most out of Kamurocho’s underworld.

Judgment Gameplay #1
Judgment - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Judgment Remastered Is Different From Its Original

When the remastered was first announced and first pictures were revealed, I remember much of its controversy revolved around how dark and muddled the game looked in comparison to the PS4 Pro version, which was vivid and bright with color. More than just simply the “same game, but with ‘darker’ shadows,” I felt a difference in playing on the PS5 than what I’ve seen of the PS4 version, which, again, this is the first time playing this game in general. Other details that I felt weren’t mentioned as much were the additional lights and reflections off certain objects, as simply walking down Tenkaichi St is immersive. 

I’ve walked the streets of Kamurocho since the PS2 era Yakuza games over 15 years ago and it’s impressive how such a small neighborhood has evolved throughout four different generations. On the PS5, neon lights illuminate off of various shops and clubs while the reflection of rain-soaked streets casts off said buildings. Various identifiable locations, including the Stardust host club and the New Serena bar, also make their appearance, treating veteran Yakuza fans to an “I know that reference!” moment.

Judgment Gameplay #2
Judgment - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Roam The Streets Of Kamurocho The Way They Were Meant

Visually the game holds up, though it’s a matter of players used to the brighter PS4 version to get used to the more “realistic” PS5 port. The framerate improves considerably from its predecessor, which also means loading between scenes is quick, as cutscene and gameplay integration is seamless. The Dragon Engine shines the most as fans have already realized with the PS5’s version of Like A Dragon, and Judgment takes every advantage of the engine itself.

As far as the game itself, this was the first RGG Studio game since the first Yakuza to include English voice acting and the actors are all great, compared to the Japanese dub which is on equal footing. The likeliness of Takayuki Yagami is also the Japanese voice actor, Takuya Kimura, keeping with the tradition of using actor likeliness and voices for the characters within the games. English voice actors including Greg Chun as well as veterans such as Cherami Leigh and Matthew Mercer all bring their “A-game,” leaving me to keep the English voice acting as my preferred choice just for their energy alone.

Judgment Gameplay #3
Judgment - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

‘Yakuza’ Fans Will Feel Right At Home

The gameplay attempts to combine detective work, including trailing your target, identifying suspects, and gathering evidence, to deviate from Kiryu’s previous method of “kicking ass and ask questions later.” Of course, when it comes time to “kick some ass,” the combat behaves similarly to previous Yakuza titles albeit simplified. Rather than having multiple styles to change into on a whim, Yagami has two distinct styles, one for crowd control and the other for one-on-one combat. 

Compared to Kiryu’s street fighting background, Yagami moves with a fluidity unlike any Yakuza protagonist prior, utilizing martial arts and acrobatics to pull off maneuvers that weren’t possible such as wall attacks and creative environmental attacks. The “Heat” function from Yakuza returns but it is called “EX Moves” instead, utilizing the same method as the former as introducing humorous yet brutal ways to finish off foes.

Judgment Gameplay #4
Judgment - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Judgment --- Yagami, Ace Detective

Judgment on the PS5 is a must-play for action fans and Yakuza fans alike, which for the former, will rejoice in not having to play all six prior games in the series to fully enjoy it. It’s a standalone experience, self-contained, yet rewarding to those who already are familiar with the antics of the Tojo Clan and Kamurocho itself. With Lost Judgment, mere months away, now is a good time as any to get into the trials and tribulations of Yagami.

Judgment is available on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Stadia

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