• Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: Sep 5, 2006

Generally favorable reviews - based on 58 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 58
  2. Negative: 2 out of 58
Buy On
  1. Play Magazine
    A long and riveting story, plenty of freedom and a fantastic battle system have earned it a spot on my all-time Playstation 2 top 10 list. [Sept 2006, p.52]
  2. Unlike 99% of games, in Ryu Ga Gotoku you play as a guy who is pretty much the coolest, most badass, most likeable character in the world. He's the ultra strong guy with a heart of gold; the suave guy whom everyone wants to be friends with. So following Kazuma through his adventure tends to be extremely satisfying since he's such a great character. [JPN Import]
  3. Despite a few flaws, Yakuza is the most enjoyable game I’ve played all year. It’s got a deep plot that keeps you guessing and features a deeper cast of fleshed-out characters than any other game I can recall.
  4. Yakuza presents a pretty large storyline, and quite a few lengthy cut scenes. The story is generally straight forward, and most of the “twists” are predictable, but it’s still very enjoyable to work your way thru.
  5. 90
    The gameplay may be a little convulsive but Yakuza more than makes up for that through engrossing story and attention to details.
  6. Yakuza isn’t the cleanest title I’ve ever seen, but it is well executed and fun. I’d call this game an unqualified success.
  7. 85
    I still enjoyed this game, for the character development and good storyline kept things interesting. I enjoyed the battles too, though they could have used some variety. It's almost too linear in its presentation, which makes it feel like 95 percent of the game falls under the "beat the hell out of thugs and go from point A to point B" scenario. [JPN Import]
  8. PSM Magazine
    With its compelling characters and story, Yakuza is still a remarkable game. [Oct 2006, p.72]
  9. Games Master UK
    It should have been slicker, but there's no denying the entertainment value on offer. [Oct 2006, p.76]
  10. 85
    Yakuza is a wonderful foundation for a new fan-favorite series. And as an entry into the ever-growing criminal underground genre, Yakuza is a wholly unique, high-quality package that, while possessing as many flaws as it does triumphs, is a crime drama worth mentioning in the same breath as "The Godfather" (the movie, not the game).
  11. Diving into the Japanese criminal underground in Yakuza makes for an interesting, violent and stylish adventure that blends fighting and exploring a living world a complete joy.
  12. 85
    I highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys an incredible story, a good brawler, and isn't upset by load times here and there. The story here is topnotch, the direction and presentation of the story is executed superbly.
  13. Gamers may become frustrated at the time it takes to travel throughout the city, framerates are jittery at times, and save areas are sometimes too far and too few. In spite of these shortcomings, the tremendous work on the plot of the game is where this title shines.
  14. Pelit (Finland)
    A story-driven action game with an extremely dark atmosphere. The storyline is interesting, cutscenes are well made and the city is full of temptations. However, the battles are a bit too repetitive and the camera behaves strangely at times. [Sept 2006]
  15. The action comes fast, the plot is exciting, and you couldn’t ask for a better brawler near the end of the PlayStation 2's life cycle.
  16. 82
    Yakuza tells a good story. Not only that, it backs it up with a satisfying combat system and one of the most atmospheric gameworlds so far this year.
  17. It’s not a must-play gem due to too many easily noticeable flaws, but Yakuza’s positives greatly outstrip any negatives. And if you’re a fan of a good story, look no further.
  18. It's a violent, cinematic and mature experience that will keep you hooked, even if the characters do use the word 'f..k' like they’re in a Tarantino film.
  19. Edge Magazine
    For some, Yakuza will feel dangerously dumb, due to its unrefined and relentless combat, but it's just as dangerous to risk overlooking its capacity to be fiercely capable and loveably playful in plenty of other ways, always aiming to provide captivating entertainment. [Oct 2006, p.84]
  20. Yakuza's story has the intensity of a page-turner - not surprising, as it was penned by a novelist - and the gameplay backs it up. Kazuma Kiryu's tale is an addictive blend of mystery, suspense and brutal violence.
  21. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    A very glib way to describe Yakuza in terms of other games would be to say that it's "Shenmue" done right. [Oct. 2006, p.80]
  22. games(TM)
    Ultimately, Yakuza should be praised for overreaching, rather than criticized for what it doesn’t achieve. It’s rare to see a game so ambitious in terms of story and scope. [Oct 2006, p.112]
  23. Definitely more than the sum of its parts, and a rare case of a game getting there before Hollywood.
  24. There’s always something to do and it’s always going to yield action, reward or at least someone with a bad case of Tourettes.
  25. Fast unarmed combat system and lush visuals complete the package.
  26. A captivating, story-driven fighting adventure with great characters, but not everyone will enjoy the violence and repetition.
  27. The Japanese culture and rich storyline do a lot to draw players in just like an RPG would. The fighting mechanics are extremely fun and breaking a bicycle on some Yakuza guy’s head never gets old.
  28. If you hanker after some great fights with an equally good story to carry things along then you really can’t pick a better game and it’s one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played on the Playstation 2 this year.
  29. What we have in Yakuza is a highly effective Japanese gangster story crammed into a PS2 game, and a visually impressive one at that.
  30. Yakuza is the best example I’ve seen in a long time of just how much a great story can elevate a good game.
  31. PSM3 Magazine UK
    Some of the collision detection is a bit off and it doesn't have the big-budget heavyweight feel of "GTA," but it's an enjoyable, robust crime yarn. [Oct 2006, p.70]
  32. Play UK
    More "Final Fantasy" than "Grand Theft Auto," Yakuza doesn't do exactly what it says on the tin, foregoing the trappings of the sandbox in favour of the more linear nature of the RPG. [Issue 144, p.74]
  33. Yakuza is a top notch beat ‘em up with enough extras to flesh out the genre, and breath new life into it for a new generation.
  34. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    Yakuza delivers a superbly paced, mature, and well-acted narrative in the spirit of classic Japanese gangster flicks. [Oct. 2006, p.112]
  35. Yakuza’s a thoroughly enjoyable game that carries the burden of the usual flaws. A fighting system hurt by the camera and faulty lock-on, long loading times, and no real innovation.
  36. 75
    Yakuza is quite a decent game. Several components, especially the voice work let it down and detract from its immersive elements. Had these been improved upon it would have been great.
  37. A good story, decent length and immersive gameplay make the game shine, but lots of loading, vague subquests and camera control hold it back somewhat.

Awards & Rankings

#23 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2006
#17 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2006
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 124 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 7 out of 124
  1. May 26, 2011
    this game does not have a name or the packaging like god of war or devil may cry that easily acttracts gamers and so it's often overlooked.this game does not have a name or the packaging like god of war or devil may cry that easily acttracts gamers and so it's often overlooked. And who can blame us,i mean who really cares about yakuzas (i know i don't) but after a friend recommended it to me i finally got the game and i was so glad i did. The story in this game can only be found in a great movie or a best seller novel for it's that damn good.it involves love,betrayer,honour and even tragedy.after taking the fall for his best friend,our hero gets out of prison only to find out his girlfriend is missing,betaryed by bestfriend and yakuza world in chaos.he must protect a mysterious little who would lead him to the truth. With awesome characters,great combat system,free roaming gameplay and great looking cut scenes i must say yakuza is a master piece. A game for only hardcore gamers,casual gamers be warned Full Review »
  2. Apr 11, 2013
    this game is freaking awesome its a spiritual successor to Shenmue and man did it surpass shenmue already amazing story and a unique gameplaythis game is freaking awesome its a spiritual successor to Shenmue and man did it surpass shenmue already amazing story and a unique gameplay for an open world game like this was just genius if sega ever plans to make Shenmue 3 then they should leave it in the hands of the people who made Yakuza 1-5 Full Review »
  3. Mithyus
    Apr 1, 2007
    Kazuma and his story are entangling and amazing from start to end, and while the gameplay plays as a lesser element, it still does a pretty Kazuma and his story are entangling and amazing from start to end, and while the gameplay plays as a lesser element, it still does a pretty decent job. Full Review »