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Judgement Remastered – Tokyo Confidential

REVIEW – In the investigative thriller Judgment, we follow a charismatic Japanese private detective and former lawyer, Takayuki Yagami, as he investigates the brutal serial murders in a fictional Tokyo neighbourhood by Japanese mafia families, the Yakuza. We reviewed the game on Xbox Series X.

 

In each instalment of the Yakuza series, which has now grown to eight games, we’ve been able to control Kazuma Kiryu, an underworld hero of the notorious Japanese crime gang, the Yakuza, in the same location: a fictional, non-existent neighbourhood of Kamarucho, Tokyo. (In the last one, only the main character changed.) The game series, with its extremely convoluted storyline, is most reminiscent of a Netflix series, if only because of the considerable playing time, which can be as long as 30-40 hours in some episodes.

In the investigative thriller Judgment, we follow a charismatic Japanese private detective and former lawyer, Takayuki Yagami, as he investigates the brutal serial murders in a fictional Tokyo neighbourhood by Japanese mafia families, the Yakuza. We tested the game on Xbox Series X.

In each instalment of the Yakuza series, which has now grown to eight games, we’ve been able to control Kazuma Kiryu, an underworld hero of the notorious Japanese crime gang, the Yakuza, in the same location: a fictional, non-existent neighbourhood of Kamarucho, Tokyo. (In the last one, only the main character changed.) The game series, with its extremely convoluted storyline, is most reminiscent of a Netflix series, if only because of the considerable playing time, which can be as long as 30-40 hours in some episodes.

Judgment, which is also related to the Yakuza series but with a different protagonist and slightly different gameplay, first hit stores in Japan in 2018 and the rest of the world later in 2019, with the next-gen version just arriving on Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5 and Google Stadia, and we dove straight into the new, more graphically polished action detective adventure.

judgmentremastered

In Japan, only 1 per cent of court cases are acquitted

 

The game opens with this very interesting statement, and at the beginning, Takayuki Yagami is a young, star lawyer who has just made it past the 1% mark: he has successfully acquitted someone of a serious murder charge. Yes, but shortly after a positive outcome for the accused, his former client appears to have murdered someone: this time his own lover.

Yagami himself then felt that he had lost so much “face” (as humiliation is called in the land of the rising sun) with this case that he had to give up his profession and become a private detective, with his own office and a former yakuza partner. (Yagami himself was a yakuza in his younger days.) Three years later, he’s also working with his former law firm on a variety of criminal cases, investigating evidence that could exonerate the firm’s clients. (A bit like the main character in the HBO series Perry Mason does, only there he goes from private eye to lawyer in season two, while Yagami does the reverse.)

And Yagami, in his latest case, is initially investigating the acquittal of a yakuza chieftain client named Hamura for a very gross, “eye-gouging serial killing.” and later continues the investigation on his own. He does this despite the fact that the mysterious “Mole” (whom he has named himself), the perpetrator of the serial murders, is closing in on him, and that a number of the yakuza are not looking kindly on Yagami’s “zeal for the cause”…

JudgmentComparison

Yakuza Noir

The Yakuza parts tend to be quite often rather sombre in tone, although there are often a few deliberately, comically silly bits mixed in. Judgement, on the other hand, adds two shovels to this darker, more serious style. It’s true ‘Yakuza Noir’ in every sense of the word, with a private detective in the lead role who often finds himself in shaky, life-threatening situations where he can be beaten up or have his life seriously threatened. In many ways, this makes the story more realistic, more believable, with a more realistic protagonist.

The game’s protagonist is played by Takuya Kimura, a popular actor and former pop star in Japan, who has starred in several big-budget blockbuster Japanese films, including the Netflix samurai film The Blade of the Immortal. Perhaps another reason why his protagonist character is more believable and credible is that he is played by a real, professional actor thanks to motion capture, not just his voice. The same is true for the other characters, everyone has done an amazingly professional job, right down to the last supporting actor.

Speaking of the actors, it is worth mentioning that Pierre Taki had to be replaced in the aforementioned role of Hamura because the man, also a star in his home country, was found guilty of a drug deal and was therefore banned from all his work and roles, and subsequently cut from this game. So much so that not only was a new voice actor found but the character’s appearance was also reworked. Taki’s career seems to be over, unlike in Western culture, there is no forgiveness for drug abuse in Japan.

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This super cop can beat Bruce Lee

 

Judgment features both classic adventure game-style detective, dialogue-driven and Yakuza-style brawling. Somewhere I always found it comical that in Yakuza games you can mostly just fight with your mafioso and kill no one, but here it makes sense that with a private eye and former lawyer on the side of the law, you’re not going to kill your enemies, just beat them up.

As for the latter: this part of the game is pretty much the same as the previous Yakuza games, with only differences in the skill tree and certain abilities associated with them.

In terms of difficulty, however, the developers have cut back a bit: while I sweated a few times in a few encounters with Kazuma Kiryu, the main character of the first seven Yakuza (including Yakuza 0), I beat the Yakuza to a pulp with Yagami (provided the game’s story didn’t take control out of my hands in a dramatic transition) so easily that even Bruce Lee would have nodded in approval.

In other words: the game is very easy, and if you’re in trouble, you just need to grab a quick sushi, sandwich or other food, or in the case of a more serious injury, a box of medicine, and you’re in the clear, and you can keep fighting until your opponent’s runs out.

Since this is basically a story-centric, detective game, where action sequences like this are more of a “filler”, it’s actually okay that the game isn’t that “hardcore”, at least beyond the hardcore gamers, those who want an interactive private detective adventure can also go for it.

Judgment remastered02

Tokyo’s party district as you’ve never seen before

 

Kamurocho, the main location in all of the Yakuza series, has never been more spectacular thanks to the upgraded next-gen graphics. What’s worth knowing about this “fictional” Kamurocho is that it was actually modelled after Kabukichō, which is Tokyo’s party district, including the “red light” streets.

The streets are lined with lavish neon lights, advertisements, billboards and videos, which now shine even more spectacularly on various surfaces, such as puddles, car windscreens and even on the glasses of a law firm secretary. I’m not sure if it’s ray-tracing, but it’s certainly stunning.

And that’s not to mention the character development, which is more detailed than I’ve seen in perhaps any game I’ve ever played. I’ve played Judgment on Xbox Series X, but I’m sure you’ll get a similar visual orgy on PlayStation 5.

This is the first time Judgment has been released on Xbox, but it seems that the makers have ported it to veteran pro mode after Yakuza, and as a result it’s probably one of the most beautiful nextgen games ever, even though it wasn’t originally made for nextgen.

Judgment PS5 Combat

“Supercop beats everyone”

 

So far, I’ve only mentioned the positives, but it’s worth noting that Judgment isn’t perfect either. For example, when I look at the street brawls, I found them unnecessary and a bit ridiculous in the long run, and more than once they broke the spell of the professional story and the simulation of the city. If Tokyo really needed so many fights with street gangs attacking us on every corner, the whole city would have been in total anarchy long ago. Of course, this is basically a video game, you need constant opponents, but at least the developers could have given some logical explanation why our hero is also bound to be involved in street gangs.

On the other hand, the detective part is not as well developed as in the classics of the genre, such as L.A. Noire or Sherlock Holmes: Crime & Punishment. You don’t have to work so hard (to quote Inspector Poirot) on those ‘grey cells’. That’s why the gaming experience is more like an interactive Netflix crime series than a real detective game.

Despite all these small negatives, I can only recommend the game to those who are receptive to a really long, meaningful, often exciting and twisty Yakuza “spin-off”, because they will almost certainly not be disappointed.

-Zardoz-

Pro:

+ A fascinating investigation against a backdrop of conspiracy…
+ A five-star cast perfectly interpreted by committed actors
+ A staging and direction worthy of the 7th Art

Against:

– … with gameplay that is sometimes repetitive and sometimes under-exploited
– … suffering from a lack of rhythm at times
– The noticeable absence of a second district to explore


Publisher: SEGA

Developer: SEGA

Genre: Action-adventure

Release date: April 20, 2021

REVIEW - In the investigative thriller Judgment, we follow a charismatic Japanese private detective and former lawyer, Takayuki Yagami, as he investigates the brutal serial murders in a fictional Tokyo neighbourhood by Japanese mafia families, the Yakuza. We reviewed the game on Xbox Series X.   In each instalment of the Yakuza series, which has now grown to eight games, we've been able to control Kazuma Kiryu, an underworld hero of the notorious Japanese crime gang, the Yakuza, in the same location: a fictional, non-existent neighbourhood of Kamarucho, Tokyo. (In the last one, only the main character changed.) The game…
Judgment is a very nice surprise that will surely delight both fans of the Yakuza series and newcomers (potentially seduced by the much requested presence of French subtitles). The former will quickly find their bearings in the Kamurocho they have come to love, while the latter will be amazed at the spectacle that Shinjuku has to offer.

Judgement Remastered

Gameplay - 7.4
Graphics - 9.2
Story - 9.4
Music/audio - 8.2
Ambiance - 8.4

8.5

EXCELLENT

Judgment is a very nice surprise that will surely delight both fans of the Yakuza series and newcomers (potentially seduced by the much requested presence of French subtitles). The former will quickly find their bearings in the Kamurocho they have come to love, while the latter will be amazed at the spectacle that Shinjuku has to offer.

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