I absolutely loved my time with Like a Dragon. Ichiban was just too charming, Isezaki Ijincho too interesting and its story too irresistible (in its own pulpy way), proving once again that the strength of Yakuza’s heart can easily overcome any of its gameplay shortcomings. Every time I got mad at its RPG failings, I couldn’t stay mad, because every time I got frustrated at the grind Ichiban would do something beautiful, or I’d fight a man holding a giant smoked turkey leg.
The problem with 2K, though, and it’s bigger this year than ever, is that you can rarely be so clear in your perspective. In 2K21, just like we’ve seen for the last few years, every moment of fun on the court is undermined by the racket being run off it.
This sequel does enough to justify standing on its own merits, though, finding a cozy spot between its rival’s offerings. I’m normally always playing a game like this in my spare time, and I’m confident that this is the one I’ll be playing a lot more of through 2020.
And yet year after year 2K, despite intense fan protest online, turn the dial up and try to squeeze everyone just a little bit more. Clearly there are millions of fans who either don’t care, or are at least willing to suffer through it all, and it’s for these players that 2K is happy to continue building their entire game around the central conceits of microtransactions and advertising.
For those new or interested in the series, this is absolutely the best place to start, as it’ll ease you in and communicate its complexities better than any other Total War. And if you’re experienced, you’ll just love how this is a smoother, smarter ride. Three Kingdoms isn’t a perfect Total War game, but it’s the closest the series has come in a long time.