If you think this is just GTA:Japan, you got another thing coming!
You don't jack cars, but do a lot of running around and fighting gangs and street thugs as you level up your character to make him stronger and learn new moves to save the day. Seriously though, the game has a really strong story to it, almost like a movie. The graphics are great, and the audio is passable. The english dubbed voices are so bad, and probably would be better if they just left out all the Japanese remarks like "aniki" and "oyabun".
The controls are mostly good. You learn new moves are you gain more experiance, and you'll definately be using most of them as certain bosses almost require that you use these new abilities if you hope to have a chance against them. It's fun smashing a guy into a wall and stomping his head when he's down though. And almost anything in the environment can be used as a weapon. Just remember that the bigger the weapon, the slower it is to swing it around, but it does monster damage if it connects.
One of the big negatives about the game is that it's too short though, especially if you skip the side missions. I found myself skipping most of the side missions cause they really didn't seem to mesh in with the main story. If I'm rushing to save someone, should I really be stopping by a hostess bar? Or helping a store owner handle a vandal who spray paints his store? Is this really a game about the Yakuza or about being a good boy scout and helping everyone in need? It's not like you have a popularity gauge or anything and that they'll come back to help you in your time of need. You just do these missions for cash and the experiance of fighting more thugs.
Overall: I'd recommend this if your a fan of scrolling beat'em up games, since the few that have come out recently have been rather dissapointing (Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance and Final Fight come to mind). Also worth checking out if you like a strong story driven game that you can pound away at over the weekend.

Graphics - 8
Sound - 7
Gameplay - 8
Lifespan - 7
Overall - 7



Just Cause
Island hopping fun as you join in a revolution to liberate a small territory of islands with GTA style gameplay. The added hitch? You got a parachute on your back to save you from long drops, or you can use it to glide off cliffs or jump out of planes to get to other islands!

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
What's being hyped as the ultimate Mortal Kombat game, featuring every character to ever appear in the series with several modes of play, including a Kreate a Fighter mode to make your own custom character!

God Hand
The latest attempt at an adventure beat 'em up on PS2. It's been getting positive reviews, so I'm looking forward to it.

The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
Cell-shaded, 3D whacky Power Stone-esque fun featuring characters from the popular Cartoon Networks series.


First Impression: Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

One of the most anticipated RPGs of the year, next to Final Fantasy XII of course, from Square Enix. I've never played the first game (or even heard of it) before playing this one, so you'd think maybe they would have put a little something at the beginning to remind everyone about the back story since the first game came out on the original PlayStation years ago!

So now that I've actually played a bit of the game, I'm still wondering what all the hype was about and why it's being given high praise from game players and critics everywhere.
First and foremost it should be stated that this game is an acquired taste, and not something for everyone. The first thing that sticks out is the gameplay, as you control a 3D character running around a 2D environment, at least until the enemy battles come up, than it switches to a free running 3D environment where you can run all over the place with your party, or split your party into 2 groups to add a bit of strategy to some of the enemy and boss fights.
Now this all might sound innovative and different, and it sort of is, but also can get quite frustrating. The battles seem to come off as a big cluster of "what the heck is going on?!" as you run around trying to get the enemy into your line of attack, or avoid being in theirs. And the four face buttons on the controller each controls one of the characters in your party, so it can get a bit confusing when pulling off attacks that it ends up almost like a button mashing beat 'em up game.

At this point I'm still really early into the game to tell if I want to continue playing it or not. So check stay tuned.


First Impression: Rule of Rose

After God knows how long, an english version of this disturbing game is finally available! For those of you who didn't know, Rule of Rose was released in Japan earlier this year and was of course followed by a small degree of controversy due to some of the themes implied in the game, such as torturing and killing of children, incest, as well as a few other disturbing possibilities due to the game being about an orphaned teenage girl stuck in an orphanage run by a group of demented kids.
This First Impression is based on the Japanese version of the game, the only difference so far being that the text is in Japanese, but all the voice acting is in english, which is the only roadblock when it comes to playing this game as all the vital clues for what your supposed to do is in the text.
That aside, the game itself plays like your standard Resident Evil / Survival Horror game as you run around areas getting clues as to what to do, beating up baddies with weapons you find laying around, and ultimately beating tough bosses at the end of each chapter. Borrowing something from Capcom's Haunting Ground game, you also have a cannine companion to help you out, and he's a key component to helping you solve some of the puzzles as he can help you to find things. Just pick something from your inventory, give it to him to sniff a scent, and he'll search out if there's anything nearby that matches which might help in your progression.
I've only finished the first 2 chapters of the game, and now I intend to playthrough the rest of it with the english version. So check back for more.