Archives by Day


Platform(s): Google Stadia, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Release Date: June 25, 2019


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PS4 Preview - 'Judgment'

by Thomas Wilde on June 20, 2019 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Judgment is the dramatic tale of a disgraced lawyer seeking redemption in a world rife with corruption and despair.

Pre-order Judgment

I was briefly concerned that Judgment, despite ostensibly being an entry in the Yakuza series, would lose some amount of what makes that game what it is. Judgment, after all, lets you play on the nominally right side of the law for once from the start, rather than the old-school, technically criminal antics of Kazama Kiryu, so I figured I'd be in for some changes.

As it turns out, not so much. Not even three minutes into the E3 2019 demo, I was already beating five men to death with a bicycle, a road cone, and a traffic sign. The most crucial element of Yakuza — weaponizing your immediate environment in order to put several random bystanders in intensive care for what amounts to no reason whatsoever — is still thoroughly intact.

Judgment, formerly known as Project Judge, is set in modern-day Kamurocho, the same fictional neighborhood of Tokyo that hosts a lot of the Yakuza series' action. While Judgment is set in the same universe as Yakuza, I was told at E3 by Sega representatives that the game only features a couple of Easter-egg references to the rest of the series. Judgment is intended as a stand-alone experience.

You play as Takayuki Yagami (Takuya Kimura), former lawyer and current private detective, who's rebuilding his life three years after the incident that ended his previous career. Yagami and his partner, Masahiru Kaito, proceed to accidentally get involved in an investigation against a serial murderer in Kamurocho, who's been leaving dead yakuza with their eyes missing in back alleys throughout the district.

Notably, in Judgment, you're a detective, and much of its gameplay revolves around that sort of work. The E3 demo begins with a sequence where Yagami, in disguise as a bum, is tailing a suspect through the streets at night, which is a sort of stealth challenge where you have to avoid making your target too suspicious. You'll also be able to use drones for surveillance, go on high-speed foot chases through the city, and track down targets by matching their characteristics to that of your available information. The E3 demo ended with Yagami having to match a person to a police sketch by comparing identifying marks.

Naturally, the fighting is also still intact. I only got to play through a brief fight that amounted to a tutorial system, but it featured blocking, quick attacks, and a version of the old Rage meter, where you could build up power to eventually level a target with a single cinematic strike. Kamurocho, even a few years after the events of Yakuza 6, is still about 50 percent random street thugs looking for a fight, and you are fully equipped to give it to them.

One odd feature, which the E3 demo let you select from the title screen, is a new arcade game called Kamuro of the Dead. Set in a Kamurocho that's been overrun by zombies, as seen in the PS3 spin-off game Dead Souls, Kamuro of the Dead is an arcade shooter in the spirit of, as you might expect, Sega's House of the Dead franchise. It's actually pretty easy, since it's meant to be played with a controller rather than a light gun, but it's good for a laugh.

It's also worth mentioning that Judgment is getting a thorough localization, complete with a murderer's row of voice acting talent, which includes Greg Chung, Matt Yang King, Cherami Leigh and Matthew Mercer. It's actually a little weird to see Yakuza characters speaking with decent lip-syncing, which Sega's PR people told me took a lot of work.

The E3 show floor demo of Judgment was very short and represented a small sample of what's likely to be a lengthy open-world beat-'em-up. It's got a lot going for it, however, and was one of the cornerstones of Sega's showing at E3. I doubt it's going to have the same lunatic energy as the last couple of Yakuza games did, but it's got a feel all its own.

More articles about Judgment
blog comments powered by Disqus