Gaming Backlog: Yakuza 4

Yakuza is a series that piqued my interest some years ago, but my want to start things off from the beginning kept me at bay. This want is why I’m still plodding along in the first Assassin’s Creed. However, thanks to PlayStation Plus I received Yakuza 4 for “free” and thus finally dipped into the abyss.

I cannot tell you how many hours I’ve sunk into this game, but what I can say is I’ve lost the plot somewhere along the way. Here’s what I can gather:

Akiyama is a Robin Hood-esque loan shark. A mysterious woman who needs a lot of money for mysterious reasons comes into his life. Drama ensues.

Tanimura is a cop with bad habits who uses his ill-gotten funds to help immigrants. Another Robin Hood, if you will. He also wants to find his dad’s murderer. Eventually crosses paths with Akiyama’s mystery woman. More drama.

Saejima is a yakuza on death row, who then escapes to find answers or whatever, and well, his storyline is a big “wha….”. But he ropes in the last protagonist.

Kiryu is what ties all the games together and I’m assuming all the plotlines in this specific game. Former yakuza. Head of very tiny orphanage. Does not seem disturbed at Saejima checking out middle schooler under his care. Also kind of hot.

There is an overarching plot involving stolen money, backstabbing, mass murder and love. But who cares! I’ve spent most of my time in the hostess clubs and beating up gang members. Occasionally I help someone out with their curry recipe.

The actual game mechanics are a bit stiff, specifically with the fighting combos and moving around in general, and the map/mini-map leaves much to be desired. Actually, I really hate the map; it’s borderline useless. A lot of the fighting feels like placeholders until the next overly long, overly dramatic cutscene. And I’m okay with that.

Yakuza 4 is a soap opera with all the convoluted mess that entails, but is also fun for the most part. It only becomes tedious if you want to achieve 100% trophy completion. Thankfully I don’t.

I have no interest in replaying this game, but I may check out Yakuza 5.

Hand of God

Hand of God is an Amazon original series starring Ron Perlman. I binged watched it in one weekend as is the new norm for television shows. In fact, I refused to watch the pilot because I didn’t want to have to wait to see what happens next. Yes, I am that spoiled by new media. Anyway. hand of god

Perlman plays Pernell Harris, a judge corrupted by power, who seems to have a symbiotic relationship with Mayor Robert “Bobo” Boston (Andre Royo). The two are working with a firm called Brooks on a major land deal. This deal is actually pretty important to the plot, although you wouldn’t know it half the time. It’s also not ever really explained in full detail (like, why is a judge involved? and why is this judge so important to the deal? couldn’t you pay off any ol’ judge? etc). And I wish I could say it all makes sense in the end, but it doesn’t. So let’s move on.

The big plot point revolves around Harris’ son PJ who shot himself in the head after seeing his wife raped and didn’t die. He’s not really alive either, machines are breathing for him, and this limbo fate is a heavy burden on his father. Harris promised PJ he would find the man responsible for raping his daughter-in-law; a promise he starts to believe he must keep in order for his son to awaken.

Harris starts having visions, talking in tongues, and believes his son is speaking directly into his mind. He gets a follower to beat and/or kill people in the search of justice. He’s giving a crap ton of money to a church that feels scammy but might not be; it’s a church after all. He has a wife who is unfaithful but devoted and a mistress/escort who he proclaims to love (he also loves his wife; he’s basically Rand al’Thor). The crazy part is that all these visions are actually leading to bonafide clues.

The ten episodes weave in and around the land deal and the hunt for whoever is behind the rape. And as convoluted as it becomes at times…it’s a lot of fun. The cinematography and acting are both superb, and whatever faults lie in the writing could be ironed out in future seasons.

And there better be another season with that cliffhanger ending.

Headhunters

 

Headhunters (Hodejegerne in Norwegian) stars Aksel Hennie as Roger Brown, a successful headhunter who steals art from his clients to support his lavish lifestyle. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau the beautiful stars as Clas Greve, a mark who owns a rare Peter Paul Rubens painting that could ease Brown’s financial woes.

Clas is former special forces, who specialized in tracking people, and his company develops GPS technology. During the heist in Clas’ apartment, Roger’s life takes a turn for the worst, to say the least, although the turning point is rather minor compared to what awaits him.

Roger finds himself on the run with no friends or allies, no one he can trust. He’s an art thief, not your general hardened criminal, and is out of his league with all the violence that is unfolding around him.

The film has pretty darn good cinematography,  and  Hennie gives a brilliant performance. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot and you can never really be sure how the story is going to end. Unless you read the book, I guess, but let’s just pretend that doesn’t exist for a moment.

It’s not a perfect film, but it is definitely one I would recommend seeing if one gets the chance.

Having a really bad day