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- Let's break down the differences in Kiryu and Majima's fighting styles. Each character gets a choice of three unique battle styles and a hidden fourth one, as well as the option to wield a huge assortment of weapons. The weapons which do not overlap with one of the other battle styles will be discounted in this brakdown, since there are simply too many.
- Kiryu's three fighting styles include Brawler, Rusher, Beast, and the hidden Dragon of Dojima. Majima gets Thug, Slugger, Breaker, and the hidden Mad Dog of Shimano. Among the three primary styles, paralells can be drawn between the two characters. Each has a generalist style, a quick but low damage style, and a slow, heavy hitting style. Let's take a look at these side by side.
- The generalist styles are Kiryu's Brawler and Majima's Thug. These styles attack at a medium pace and deal moderate damage. They also provide the widest array of options. Punches, kicks, grabs, strikes against downed opponents, attacks with items picked up in the battlefield, and heat explosion attacks that balance heat spent with damage. Defensively, these styles are still middle of the road. Blocking works normally, and evasive movement is at normal speeds.
- Well, that wasn't very exciting. But These styles aren't meant to be, at least from the start. As the first battle style each character gets, Brawler and Thug are there to introduce players to the basics of combat in Yakuza. Advanced manuevers and specialized tools are to be introduced later in other styles, or by upgrading to gain new abilities. These basic, starting styles eventuall achieve their own flair, with unique elements like boosts for being drunk, but the general idea always remains the same: everything roughly in the middle.
- How good is this middle of the road method? Well, it's pretty good in the right situation. Against small groups of enemies, Brawler and Thug strike the right balance of damage and speed to take down foes one at a time. The defensive options avilable will keep you safe from other attackers while you pick off a target at a reasonable pace. However, against large groups, the lack of speed means you'll need better defenses than are on offer, and against single targets, the damage you can deal in an opening can be unimpressive.
- Let's take a look at the heavy-hitting styles next. These are Beast for Kiryu and Slugger for Majima. Both modes sacrifice speed for raw power and focus on items. Majima wields a bat and Kiryu is heavily encouraged to use items from the battlefield as impromptu weapons. Let's first examine the pros of this approach. Each hit using these styles deals massive damage, and many attacks provide some armor to absorb wek hits without interuppting your assault. Your defenses are significantly bolstered as well. Majima's bat allows him to block lots of attacks without dropping his guard, and Kiryu can stand in place and absorb all incoming attacks, sustaining reduced damage. Majima's bat also grants him a very large attacking range, and Kiryu can similarly boost his range by picking up a weapon. Here, a flaw can be seen already with Beast style. Weapons are clearly meant to be a major part of the style, but weapons availability is totally out of the player's hands. Weapons may not be present, or those available may be of poor quality. They also tend to break after a few swings, leaving you empty handed. Arming yourself can be done by picking up an item normally or grabbing one fluidly during an attack, but the range where this time saving trick works are specific and finnicky, and often sentd Kiryu swinging in the wrong direction. Majima's bat alleviates these issues, since it is always present and has infinite durability. This kicks Beast several notches down in comparison. Both Beast and Slugger also seriously hamper movement as a counterbalance to the styles' power. They cause your character to walk much more slowly, and decrease quickstep distance and speed while also adding tons of recovery to the end. You clearly aren't meant to move beyond a walking pace with these styles, but at least the intimidating, slow march looks super cool.
- These styles are great offensively versus single targets, since you can dish out serious damage at each opening and don't need to worry about dodging other attackers. Heightened defense allows you to sustain a string of attacks from one direction with ease. Against groups of foes, you may find yourself stuggling to keep up as your enemies literally run circles around you. Guard breaking is easy for these styles, but getting a follow-up in afterwards can be hard.
- Alright, now it's time to discuss my favorite styles: the super fast Rusher and Breaker styles. With these styles, speed is king. Movement becomes very fast, and you can rain down blows at lightning speed. Again, we'll start with the pros. Speedy movement allows for easy space control. Enemies can be herded around and approached from any angle. Speedy attacks turn even the slightest gap in opposing offence into a chance to score some damage. Blocking is replaced with a bobbing and weaving dodge for Kiryu, allowing him to strike back instantly after defending. Majima also gains the ability to use a highly active dodge directly out of a block. (This is an upgrade, but it comes pretty quickly). Dodging in general becomes more active in these styles, making avoiding damage easier. Majima even gets a neat new trick that may or may not have been intentional. The strong attack used after 3 or 4 light attacks allows Majima to spin around on the ground for an extended period of time. This move is bonkers. Defensively, Majima becomes extremely difficult to hit, since he low profiles most incoming attacks. Offensively, this move's circular hitbox makes taking on crowds easy, and the low down nature of the move even allows repeated hits against enemies after knocing them to the ground. The move also hits many times, building massive amounts of heat and putting all damage increases you've bought to work several times per second. What about the downsides of these speedy battle styles? Each hit is relatively weak, making it hard to knock foes down or break their guard. These modes also encourgae you not to spend your heat on heat explosions, since the boosted movement and attak speed gained from being in high heat are key to success. This makes you into a sort of glass cannon, since getting hit ot knocked down will cost you a lot of heat, and make gaining it back harder.
- However, biased as I may be, I'd like to declare Rusher and Breaker the best fighting styles for their respective characters. These styles excel in crowds and one-on-one. The rapid movement and quick attacks make picking foes off one at a time easy as pie, and Majima's wide area of effect and high activity on strong attacks allows you to dispatch many foes silmultaneously. In single combat, the quick definsive options allow you to easily avoid attacks at the start of a chain, then reposition and punish before the chain finishes. Even if each attack deals little damage, a bit of patience will lead to your enemy's inevitable death by a thousand cuts. One of the big drawbacks of these styles, the reliance on maintaining heat, is easily sidestepped by packing a few heat-refilling items in your inventory to chug down after getting decked. The many damage boosts available through upgrades also are applied many per hit, so a quick attacking style benefits several times more than a slow one from these upgrades, raising the low power level these styles are meant to have to a shocking level.
- But wait, don't we have one last pair of styles to talk about? The hidden styles! Sadly, these are fairly disappointing. The big issue is that in place of upgrades to expand on the new style, you only get general upgrades to heat, damage, and health for all battle styles. Useful, but not good for defining the hidden style and encouraging it's use. For this reason, I see them more as a novelty than anything, and certainly less powerful and versatile than the other styles.
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