A very limited demo of Yakuza 4 was in Sega's booth and it showed off what it was like to fight with the three new playable characters featured in the game. In case you weren't aware, Yakuza 4 tells its story from the perspectives of four different characters: Kazuma Kiriyu, Masayoshi Tanimura (a dirty cop), Shun Akiyama (a loan shark), and Taiga Saejima (an escaped convict).
If you have played Yakuza before, the combat is largely the same with the addition of item mapping to the D-pad. If you aren't familiar, combat is all real time and plays out like an an old school action brawler. You use the square and X buttons to change between hard and light attacks; circle to grab, throw, and pick up items; and when you have built up enough energy, triangle to unleash devastating contextual finishing moves. For example, if you have a spear or are on the edge of a building expect the finishing moves to be very different from each other.
First up in the demo was Shun Akiyama. He is a fast and agile fighter who relies mainly on kicks and fast combos. Using him, I made short work of everyone in the encounter, especially when I figured out that you can have various weapons equipped to your D-pad. In the demo, he had a pair of kali sticks equipped which gave me the advantage I needed. Masayoshi Tanimura was next and focused mainly on punches and a few judo style holds. He was a bit slower and couldn't grab larger enemies but his arm locks were quite effective. The weapon he had equipped on the D-pad was a spear. Next up was Taiga Saejima. This character is all about strength. He is the only one who can pick up some of the larger and more damaging objects in combat arenas. He is the slowest of the bunch but makes up for it in raw power since he can grab and throw just about any enemy in the arena. He had a sword equipped, which did help to speed him up briefly. Finally, fan-favorite Kazuma was up and he plays just as you remember. He is a nice balance of all the other characters, but like a true jack of all trades he doesn't excel in any one area. He was probably the most fun to play out of the four, mainly because in the demo he was equipped with all three of the previous characters' weapons.
It was a short demo, and it didn't show off what really makes the Yakuza series interesting, which is the world these gangsters inhabit and the story that is told in this world. All the same, it is reassuring to know that the combat is fun and each of the four playable characters is unique and brings something new to not just the story, but the combat as well.