Extra Punctuation: How Yakuza 4 Grabs You

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Yahtzee Croshaw:
After finishing Yakuza 4 I went back to have a look at Yakuza 1 on the PS2. I was a little disappointed to find that Y4 rips quite a few things off from its predecessor, including ... the fictional commercial district of Kamurocho in Tokyo, is the exact same one, right down to the street layout.

Wait, I don't get it. Is this a complaint that Kamurocho is the same? If it's supposed to be a persistent city district in the game world, I wouldn't expect it to change, except for superficially. It should have the same layout, many of the same buildings and locations. Why wouldn't you want it to? I'm not sure how much time has passed between Yakuza 1 and 4, having only played Yakuza 3, but your comment seems to go against what I would expect from a game set in a consistent, persistent world.

Am I reading you wrong here?

Zom-B:

Yahtzee Croshaw:
After finishing Yakuza 4 I went back to have a look at Yakuza 1 on the PS2. I was a little disappointed to find that Y4 rips quite a few things off from its predecessor, including ... the fictional commercial district of Kamurocho in Tokyo, is the exact same one, right down to the street layout.

Wait, I don't get it. Is this a complaint that Kamurocho is the same? If it's supposed to be a persistent city district in the game world, I wouldn't expect it to change, except for superficially. It should have the same layout, many of the same buildings and locations. Why wouldn't you want it to? I'm not sure how much time has passed between Yakuza 1 and 4, having only played Yakuza 3, but your comment seems to go against what I would expect from a game set in a consistent, persistent world.

Am I reading you wrong here?

Maybe. He was using that paragraph to lead into his entire point about how consistancy/reuse can be a used well.

Really hope the next GTA is in Vice City, this article has reminded me how much I wan't to revisit VC in HD.

This is why I prefer Doom 3 to Bioshock. In Doom 3 you actually get a sense of the life before the shit hits the fan, just like Half Life. In Bioshock you enter a wasteland. The place looks cool but I never got a proper sense of how it was in its heyday so why should I care about it? I don't know what's been lost.

You know, Dragon Age 2 had a lot of potential for this sort of thing... that is if every single room and cave wasn't exactly the same.

For a quick 'nugget' that was very informative, and I completely agree. The half-life example resonates with me especially; that brilliant opening chapter was ALL about putting those places in your mind and humanising them so that when the resonance-cascade did blow everything to buggery, you were all like, "Shit! That npc said 'Good morning, Dr Freeman' and now he's being ripped apart by eldritch creatures! Fuck!"

However, one caveat. Some lazy game designers take this 'revisiting areas is fun!' idea too far, or too literally, and have you backtrack through a linear level, (where things have slightly changed [usually through the addition of harder enemies]) to achieve some random extra objective, often with a time-limit attached. Example: every level of every halo game ever, but mostly the first one. This is not fun. It is the opposite of fun.

I'm glad you brought up what I consider the main redeeming aspect of Silent Hill 4. Game had a lot of issues but I can forgive it because it offered horror in a new and intriguing way. As someone who's experienced first hand how one's home can go from a place of mental and emotional safety to a place of mental and emotional entrapment (even without supernatural locks and chains!) this element of the game really, really struck a cord with me.

Another good example of this narrative structure was the original Tomb Raider, in a way that no one has really gotten right again. Almost every area had essentially an unofficial hub area that you'd be returning to for most of the stage. And even after you finished that particular area you'd find yourself winding your way there again from another direction later on (usually just passing through)! This is probably why I remember the areas in Tomb Raider (and to a certain extent TR2 as well) much better than I do any other game in the franchise. They become sort of characters in their own right.

This is something that's happened a few times in games that I honestly didn't even really think about consciously until now. In Metal Gear Solid when empty hallways were changed or suddenly riddled with bodyparts, in Homeworld when the scaffold was destroyed and Kharak was a giant glass crater, or in World in Conflict when Seattle is in complete ruin at the end, those were very effective moments. They said a lot more with a visceral image than you could with ten pages of annoying text.

We don't necessarily need to go to Waiting for Godot extremes, but thinking of locations or objects as being alive can be a very powerful gaming mechanic.

Steve the Pocket:
Well, well. All I can say is, if you liked the backtracking through the now-ruined labs in Half-Life, you're gonna love...

I was just thinking the same thing. All that deja vu had me giggling like a mad schoolgirl. Shame Yahtzee didn't write this a little later to include this in his thoughts.

What an interesting, and completely accurate thought. There are a lot of places in my real life that hold significant meaning to me due to whatever memories I have attached to it. And certainly this is possible translate into game narrative as well.

For example (and I think it was mentioned earlier on the forum) I found myself actually attached to Balamb Garden in FFVIII. I spent a lot of time running around that long hallway, and training in the Training Center, and I met Rinoa for the first time there as well (which turns out to be special in the long-run, not just because the game sets it up that she and Squall fall in love, but that I as the player began to care for the relationship forming between them as well). So when the time came to protect Balamb, I was deeply invested in the cause. And even as Balamb changed, I could still walk around and remember what certain areas meant personally to me.

If more games could capture this kind of feeling (its probably easier to do in an RPG-type game, since they tend to be hours long and therefore provide ample time to connect with a location, but why not in FPSs and other genres?) I think it would be a positive for narratives in games.

Short Version: in agreement with Yahtzee.

Okay so basically that explains a good game and your video a while ago also explained that but what makes a perfect game? (and don't say duke nukem forever) is it a balanced blend of storytelling, graphics, characters, and gameplay? or is it something that none of the game developers so far have touched yet?

This trope is fairly similar, though it's for references to a previous game, not just a previous location: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NostalgiaLevel

Examples from my own library:
Alpha Protocol's first and last levels are exactly the same, except in the last one everything is exploding around you.

Portal 2's intro levels are the same as the original (since they're teaching you the same principles), except overgrown and ruined.

In Freespace 2, the final three missions all took place in a single star system, where the Shivans were building up their forces. So in each mission, you'd look over at the star and see one Juggernaut, then three-ish, then the sun gets blotted out by a whole fleet of Juggernauts!

There sure alot of ME2 spoilers in here.

Reminds of The Saboteur. Thought the game itself was really just yet-another GTA ripoff but in the end I still go back just for the music, atmosphere and location.

vehystrix:
Wait, Yahtzee has people locked up in his basement?
Underage girls perhaps?

most certainly

Stammer:
I remember in Perfect Dark 64 you could at any point in the game wander around your home base of Carrington Institute, saying "hi" to your co-workers and testing out the equipment. And then in one of the later levels within the game the Institute comes under attack and you have to drive the enemy out, protecting the scientists and helping your fellow agents. It was always my favourite mission, and for a similar reason to what this article pointed out.

I had -completely- forgotten about that level, I loved it too, now I have to find my 64...

Another, though slightly different example I've experienced of this, is in Left 4 Dead, No Mercy, you spend the entire campaign pushing for the hospital, then you get to the roof, and get that panaoramic view of the city in ruins, you can see the path you took to get to where you are. The sense of accomplishment I felt when I first saw that was unbelievable and entirely unexpected.

I agree with this, but then you complain about games making you re-tread old levels(see: DMC4 review)

It's probably because DMC is a linear game forwards, then it makes you do the exact same thing backwards, I wouldn't know, I haven't played it.

Quite often the extra punctuation articles are related to the games which will be reviewed next. Revisiting old rooms which have changed over the years? Companion cube?
You know, I'll go ahead and say there is a chance that the next review is going to be portal 2.

That's, of course, wishful thinking, but it is somewhat likely :)

OT: I didn't play Y4 nor SH4 so I haven't experienced a lot of revisiting. The only example I can think of is in RE games (especially RE2), where I felt saver when I suddenly reached the area of the other character.
Another interesting example is Zelda Majora's mask where not the scenery but the people's models were reused. While I felt kinda ripped off because nintendo avoided some work there, it was nice to see known faces in an unknown world.

I think, this kinda happens in the first Freedom Fighter game, were your base is a safe haven from the russian invasion(you can stock up, change weapons, plan your next move, etc), until someone betrays you, and tells the location of said base, so you gotta bail out, which was quite annoying. ah, good game...

Yakuza would have been better if it wasn't in the same market as GTA. Not that I'm raving about how GTA is the greatest game ever made, because I'm not, but after reading a lot of reviews the general gist I got was that it was Japans knock off of GTA, or GTA tokyo or something along those lines. Given Yakuza 4 wasn't an incredible commercial success, I imagine if the franchise is going to survive it will require a bit more innovation next time around.

Latinidiot:
I like that with God Of War. Every game has like 6 main locations, where you keep coming back with new stuff, moves, keys and the like.

I was thinking of the same example... My favorite was going back to the Temple of the Oracle at the end of God of War 1 and finding everything destroyed and most characters dead.

Fatal Frame 3 had the exact same thing you described about Silent Hill 4. Your safe haven was your house which you could wander around and talk to the other playable characters, save, etc. As the story progressed you explored a few extra areas within the apartment, got another main character to watch decline and ghosts began to appear. At first you aren't sure what you saw but then they really start to scare the crap out of you as the line between dreams and reality blur. Also you spend virtually the entire game revisiting old areas metroid style in order to access new ones. Seeing the areas from new angles and with new perspectives as you play the varying characters give you a similar feel.

Another example that has surely been mentioned already was resident evil 2. the main big room of the police station is totally safe in the A file, but in the B file that big scary thing in the coat will attack you in the previously safe upper balcony!

I haven't read the other comments (shame on me), so ignore this if it was mentioned already.

In the just-released Portal 2, the beginning has you wandering through some test chambers from the first game. Far from the pristine, sterilized rooms of the first game, the years have allowed vegetation to grow on it and the entire area to begin to fall apart. It really gives some perspective.

The 1st darkness section in Fable 3 was the only thing that was done truly well in that game, imo, and it freaked me the fuck out when I paused and the darkness had invaded the Sanctuary. That was a really nice touch, and a good example. Pity the darkness phoned it in in the end section....

Good article and I totally agree.

I had a similar experience with MGS4, in fact when I learned that you returned to Shadow Moses Island I went out of my way to get a copy and play the game, despite not owning a PS3 of my own! I always loved the Shadow Moses facility setting and to return to it was amazing. To see how it had decayed and to remember all the things I had to do there. Also, simply being able to walk right through the front door was a joy for me! That Otacon and Snake both commented on their past adventures there was just the icing on the cake.

When playing The Longest Journey: Dreamfall, my mind was blown away when I got the chance to return to Venice and see the Borderhouse and the Fringe. I guess I'm easily amused.

Fatal Frame 3 did this well, too. They had your house that you wake up in every day. But then you start seeing things in the house and start questioning if you are really safe there...

Proverbial Jon:
When playing The Longest Journey: Dreamfall, my mind was blown away when I got the chance to return to Venice and see the Borderhouse and the Fringe. I guess I'm easily amused.

I have got to get that sequel still! Arg!

While slightly different, I enjoyed revisiting STALKER:SoC locations remade and expanded in STALKER:CoP. I liked actually being familiar with what buildings were just around the corner sometimes. Of course, as the games have gotten bigger and more detailed, there sometimes was now a building next to the building that now had a doorway leading to a room filled with newly added beasties. And of course, they tore me to pieces as I confidently rounded the corner fully unaware of my incomplete knowledge of the situation. Darn it.

Seneschal:
But I appreciate what they wanted to do, and I love it when games get it right. The Suikoden games always feature a home fortress from where you spread your rebellion, and it evolves throughout the game, shops opening, character moving in, dancing shows and cooking contests being organized for the inhabitants, your barracks, your troops, the war room, the rooms of your allies and friends... All growing and becoming more sophisticated as you transform from a guerilla rebel into a liberation army leader.

That's one of the little things I loved about Skies of Arcadia: building up your home base straight from the ground as you progress the storyline and recruit more characters. At first you end up on this barren, uncharted floating rock purely by coincidence and are forced to scavenge whatever nature offers you and any falling debris from the sky. Soon after you acquire enough to escape the island on your own, you come come back later with your crew to build your home base and recruit contractors, merchants, cooks, entertainers, doctors, engineers, and others to help you in your endeavor. My favorite bit was seeing what used to be an unburied, unmourned old corpse I gave a hasty burial for after looting his valuables and treasure map when I first arrived on the island turn into a proper memorial later on when I acquired myself a mason.

Random question: Why is this article still on the top of the front page? I'm just curious since there have been about 6 new articles since it was uploaded.

It reminds me of something wild arms 1 did(you can tell they were trying their hardest with that game).

there's a town where they have a monster detector(no other town has it, and they had no monsters), and one of your characters is a smart talking rat that gets shocked when he tries to go through. After clearing it with the town they tell you that if you keep him really close to someone's body he'd probably go undetected.

Cut to after a mission is done and you see the town has gone to hell because the monsters used the same trick you did to get through. They like infested the people who had gone out and those people mutated.

An earlier town was also attacked in the middle of a festival(reminiscent of Chrono Trigger) with the sky falling apart. Both times were pretty out of nowhere and unexpected.

Sabinfrost:
Yakuza would have been better if it wasn't in the same market as GTA. Not that I'm raving about how GTA is the greatest game ever made, because I'm not, but after reading a lot of reviews the general gist I got was that it was Japans knock off of GTA, or GTA tokyo or something along those lines. Given Yakuza 4 wasn't an incredible commercial success, I imagine if the franchise is going to survive it will require a bit more innovation next time around.

It's almost nothing like GTA, nore is the game trying to be GTA.

Gow has given players the excact same gameplay in all of them, yet each one sells like hotcakes in the US, Yakuza is sorta like that (with the exception that the Yakuza series has actuality evolved over it's life) in Japan, The last two sold over 300,000 copies on the first day in Japan.

I was quite disappointed in DMC3 for all the backtracking that you had to make to continue the story. I'm fine with backtracking, the problem is that it was all fucking same, no difference at from what you had already passed. That was quite disappointing for me. But oh well...

I get the same feeling of recognition from Portal 2, which has you backtrack through some of the later test chambers in the beginning, now overrun with plant life and decay.

Alakaizer:

OT: As nice as that kind of experience can be, it's still no excuse for nine out of every ten sandbox games having you retread NYC over and over again(We're looking at you, Rockstar).

If it's for reals NYC instead of "Liberty City" it can still be fun. I found where my brother's apartment building would be in Prototype and threw a zombie at it!

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