February 22nd was an inaugural day for the Playstation 4; it’s the day it finally graced its homeland of Japan. To mark the occasion, Sega released a Playstation 4 version of the Yakuza Restoration demo. We previously looked at the PS3 version of the demo a short while ago.
The content over the PS3/4 demos is almost exactly the same, so I was left to focus on the differences between the two versions:
The biggest change has been to performance. The PS4 version of the game runs at a noticeably smooth 60FPS (as opposed to the PS3 version’s 30FPS) with no notable stutter. I tried crisscrossing a busy street lined with merchants; in the PS3 version the framerate dropped into a chuggy mid-20s; in the PS4 version it held to a smooth 60 with the grace of a figure skater.
NPCs materializing in and out of the game world was a fairly common occurrence in the PS3 build, but I only found rare instances of this in the PS4 version. Pop-in on the whole is much less frequent here.
Load times are almost non-existent which means not only less waiting, but a more seamless experience overall. Take fishing for example. the PS3 version was like this: cast rod > loading hiccup > hook fish > loading hiccup > pull fish in > loading hiccup > see result screen.
On PS3, the game would stop to load like this because of the piecemeal way it had been put together; different elements needed to be loaded in individually. Sadly, these load hiccups are entirely gone but they are much smaller now; as little as a tenth of a second. The result is that the game feels less like it was made up of disparate parts that were stitched together. The same is also true of battles, where the transition between regular combat and special-move cinematics blend together with fewer – and smaller – apparent seams.
The PS4 version of the game runs natively in 1080P which means sharper textures and fewer jaggies. But there was also one other unexpected advantage: better visibility:
The area in the demo is filled with broad open areas that contrast with narrow side-streets bathed in shade. In the PS3 version, moving between sunlit and shaded areas was a jarring; you often couldn’t make out the floor of the areas you had entered in any detail until the slow-working pupil dilation effect kicked in…at which point you’d probably already made your way back out to sunlight. More pixels means a greater degree of gradient in dark colors and this shows in the PS4 version; moving between light and dark areas is easier on the eyes; shade isn’t so blinding and the pupil dilation effect comes across as more natural.
Outside of the visuals, there are only minor additions which set the PS4 version apart from its last-gen counterpart; navigating the map screen with the touchpad and the Dualshock 4 lightbar flashing festively during a karaoke session come to mind.
There was one thing I found in the PS4 demo that I don’t recall being in the PS3 version: an option to display a generic equipment in cutscenes. I am guessing that there are quite a few silly looking joke weapons in the game that could mess up the ambiance of a tense cutscene for some people.
I have a feeling that this feature was only included in the PS4 demo because it came out later rather than PS3 one, rather than because the feature is PS4 exclusive.
Either way we will know soon enough: the full version of Yakuza Restoration has gone on sale in Japan. Naturally, we’ll will be reviewing it in detail soon.