Sega's legendary openworld series is back. "#Yakuza 6" finds Kazama Kiryu fresh out of prison and back into trouble in the seventh numerical installment. When last we saw Kiryu, he was seriously injured and hospitalized. Kiryu is then released back into society and learns some dreadful news about his surrogate daughter, Haruka. Turns out, she's been run over by a car and is in serious condition. Worst of all, she's given birth to a child named Haruto and Kiryu has no idea who the father is. Just when it seemed that things couldn't get any worse, there's a bunch of dangerous people who are after Haruto. It's up to the Dragon of Dojima to find out who the father is and protect what remains of his family.

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Grand theft honor

For the uninitiated, The "Yakuza" series is an openworld sandbox series that explores the world of organized crime in Japan. In many ways, it shares a lot of parallels with the granddaddy of the genre, "Grand Theft Auto." However, these surface traits are where the similarities end. Unlike "GTA," the protagonist of "Yakuza" has a strict sense of morality despite his profession and abhors shakedowns. Also unlike "GTA," the "Yakuza" games have always had less of an emphasis on allowing players to engage in mindless destruction and more of an emphasis on immersing players in a world of street brawls and casual side activities. The same is true here, as the demo allowed players to play a section of the story or explore the city with a ten minute time limit.

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For the sake of this preview: I tried out both.

I've always found the characters of the series to be well-rounded and this seems to be the case from what I've played. Once I got my hands on the game, I came across a woman and showed her a picture of Haruka in the hopes that she could help us find the father. It's here that a drunken misanthrope picks a fight with Kiryu. The man boasts that he's part of the Yakuza and that Kiryu better leave before things get ugly. Unbeknownst to the drunk, Kiryu himself was once part of the Yakuza and berates the him for picking fights with civilians. Wishing to sober the brute up, Kiryu asks him to step outside and a fight begins.

Bright lights, big city

In contrast to the story based demo, the sandbox mode has players controling Kiryu as he walks around a neon lit city in Japan. Players can go to bars, talk to girls, get into street brawls, or even stop shakedowns. Watching the scowly faced Kiryu engage in some baseball and karaoke is just as funny in this installment as it was before. Look for "Yakuza 6 the Song of Life" in 2018.