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I freely admit it: I'm a fan of the Yakuza series. The unique mix of brawler, role-playing-game inspired questing and character progression, and off-beat Japanese mini-games and distractions usually amounts to a fun experience for me. In Yakuza: Dead Souls, however, my experience took a decidedly different path.
Stage 1 – Denial
Okay. I'm forced to use a gun from the very beginning, and most of my useful character upgrades center around firearms. I'm not punching and kicking like I used to, but I'm fighting zombies, so that sort of makes sense. It still looks like Yakuza, so this should be fun once I get past all of the tutorial stuff, right?
Stage 2 – Anger
What the hell? Normally, the left analog stick moves my character and the right one controls the camera. Yet, when I hold down L2 to aim manually, suddenly the left stick aims and the right does nothing.
But wait, it gets worse! When I'm aiming manually and I look too far up or too far down, my character mysteriously starts walking slowly backward for no explicable reason. Even better: If I accidentally back up into an area that doesn't allow manual camera control, it cancels my aiming even though I'm still holding L2, so my character starts running around with no warning. Sometimes, if I keep holding L2, it even switches between aiming and running multiple times in a row. How's that for completely confusing loss of control?
Stage 3 – Bargaining
Listen here, game. I'm going to buy this skill upgrade that allows me to automatically target heads if I press L2. This will make the game better, right?
What the hell!? Why did my character just spin 180 degrees to point his gun at some burning scenery when there was a zombie literally right in front of me already in my line of sight? I hit it again and now I'm aiming at a wrecked car. Was that disabled vehicle more threatening than the zombie that is chewing on my shoulder? I don't understand!
What option or upgrade will make the shooting in this game tolerable? I'll save up all my points to buy something really expensive. Just make it better. Please. I'm begging you.
Stage 4 – Depression
Why do I keep playing this? Why is every checkpoint immediately before a cut-scene? Why can't I skip cinematics I've seen multiple times unless I remember to turn on an option that allows me to do so? Why do I keep forgetting to turn this on before I die again? Why can I still not skip certain scripted, non-combat sequences even after I enable this feature in the menu?
Why do handguns have unlimited ammo? Was it an attempt by the developers to balance out the horrible shooting mechanics? Why do I feel like my biggest enemy is the aiming system and not the giant mutant zombie that is trying to pound me into the ground?
Stage 5 – Acceptance
This just isn't Yakuza like I remember and previously enjoyed. It should have just stuck to its strengths and not tried to turn itself into a shooter. Fighting hordes of zombies with members of Japanese organized crime syndicates just isn't as fun as I thought it would be.
Oh, and don't even get me started about the guy that has an arm that transforms into a Gatling gun….