Back in June 2019, I played and reviewed Judgment, a mystery thriller action-adventure game from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (the developers behind the incredible Yakuza series). Today, the game has leapt from its PlayStation 4 exclusivity and landed on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X and Stadia, taking advantage of the more powerful hardware in order to enhance both the visuals and performance. I’ve been playing the PS5 version for the last few days, having invested around 40 hours into the story – I’m nowhere near finished, but I’ve seen enough to compare this version to the PS4 edition.
Up until this morning, this review was going to be nice and short, advising that this new edition is basically the same as the PS4 edition but with double the framerate. However, I installed the last-gen edition to my PS4 Pro a few hours ago and quickly realised that I must have had rose-tinted glasses on when playing it previously (plus the fact it was on a 1080p TV must have helped) – the difference is night and day as well as a few changes and replaced features which I’m a little confused about.
So, should you pick up Judgment on the PS5 if you’ve played it previously on the PS4 (spoiler – yes)? If so, what has been changed, enhanced, and removed? Let’s find out…
I was going to do a full review, talking about all the various mechanics and features which are available within Judgment. However, I took a look at my PS4 review and realised that I’ve already covered everything you need to know – so there’s no point in me repeating the entire review here as well.
So, if you wish to read about the story, the gameplay, how the game feels like a cross between Yakuza and Ace Attorney, and what side activities you can do within this crime-based action-adventure game, please check out my comprehensive PS4 review here: https://www.gamepitt.co.uk/judgment-ps4-review/
From here on, this review will be focused on the PS5 enhancements, my thoughts on the remaster, how the game takes advantage of the new hardware, and why the game is double the price of the digital edition you can buy on Asian PSN Stores!
Just a simple remaster?
I almost made a big mistake with this review, I was convinced that the PS5 remaster of Judgment was identical to the PS4 Pro edition, other than the much smoother 60fps. This was because the game still has textures that never get any clearer as you approach them, some assets look a little blocky and simplistic in places, and the resolution looks quite low on my 4K TV (I’d guess that it’s about 1440p, like Yakuza: Like a Dragon). So, to prove to myself that the game has been enhanced for the new system, I installed the original game on my PS4 Pro this morning and loaded up a Premium Adventure save file – I was beyond shocked and amazed!
Yes, the resolution of the new edition seems to be around 1440p on the PS5 – meaning you can often see jaggies and some assets are either a little blurry or not as defined as you’d hope them to be – but the PS4 edition of the game was 900p on the base console and 1080p on the Pro. I had a 1080p TV when I first played the game, so it looked great to me, but playing it now on a 4K TV really highlights its flaws, most of which have now been resolved in the enhanced edition.
So, what’s changed? The framerate, resolution, image clarity, updated textures, improved lighting, and other subtle changes such as seeing further into the distance, the bloom level, and I’d even say the shadows and reflections. Despite being the exact same game that came out two years ago, Judgment on the PS5 feels like a brand new game, fixing all the flaws and technical compromises in order to deliver the game the developers clearly wanted us to experience but couldn’t, due to the weaker last-gen systems.
I was honestly going to debate why SEGA didn’t just put out a 60fps patch for the PS4 version, rather than charging people ‘full-price’ to obtain the enhanced edition. But, after spending a little time in the PS4 version, a patch wouldn’t have brought the game up to the level of clarity and detail we have within this definitive edition.
Two confusing changes
Before I get into why you should buy this game and how great it is to play, there are two things that have been removed from the game, two SEGA arcade cabinets which may or may not lead to you feeling angry and upset. First of all, the PS4 version of the game has a pinball table in Yagami’s office, a game built in Unity (as it tells you every time you play it) that takes a while to load. In the PS5 edition, this has been replaced with Outrun, a new arcade cabinet that loads up in less than a second and replaces the high-score criteria for the pinball machine – as it’s been fully removed from the game.
The second machine which has been yanked out with no explanation is Puyo-Puyo. I recall a lot of people complaining about this game as they found it very hard to achieve the required score for the platinum. So, the fact this has been taken out may actually entice previous players to pick this version up as well. The machine which has replaced this arcade cabinet is none other than Virtua Fighter 2.
From what I could see, all the other cabinets and casino games are here, including the brilliant Kamuro of the Dead. Have you played Yakuza: Dead Souls? If not, it’s a spin-off Yakuza story where half the city has been shut down due to a zombie outbreak – it’s rather strange but highly in need of a PS4/5 remaster. Kamuro of the Dead is basically House of the Dead (the light-gun arcade game that’s getting a Remake this year) but you’re on the streets of Kamurocho blasting the zombified inhabitants and mutated creatures.
I said it last time, but I’ll say it again – SEGA, you need to release a “Yakuza arcade collection” and fill it with every arcade game from the Yakuza, Fist of the North Star, and Judgment series’, including a full-length Kamuro of the Dead – it’ll sell like hotcakes!
PS5 (Left) and PS4 Pro (Right) – Same time of day
How much better is this version?
As stated above, until I had jumped back into the previous version, I honestly thought this was the same game only at a silky-smooth 60fps (which it is). But no, everything is much clearer, sharper, the bokeh effect is in more scenes, and I can’t recall any instances of slowdown, not even when I had a screen full of particles and enemies bodies bouncing all over the place!
Loading times… or should I say, what loading times? I think the longest load in Judgment was around three seconds, with most transitions into a mini-game or new location being between 1 and 2 seconds. The PS4 version took around 30 seconds to load a save from cold boot (for example), the PS5 version took just under 3. This makes progressing through the game so much more efficient and smoother, you’ll no longer have to wait when repeatedly playing the casino games as you try to rig the outcome!
However, not everything has had a make-over. Billboards and signs are still blocky and hard to read if you walk up to them – some are fine but a lot of them don’t look like they’ve been updated (this is also an ‘issue’ in Like a Dragon at times). I also noticed the physics engine is a bit too unrealistic, but I’m not sure if it was like that previously. For example, if you run out of the ‘Fish Shop’ and bump into the shelf or a box, the entire storage room will go bonkers as every item flies all over the place. Similarly, defeated enemies will often bounce around for no reason whatsoever.
Why is it cheaper in Asia?
A few weeks ago I decided to take a look at the Hong Kong PSN store – Judgment was listed for $138 (around £14). However, I’ve seen listings for the physical edition of the game on the PS5 and Xbox Series for £29.99 (I have no idea how much it’s going to be digitally yet). So, why is the game half the price if you buy it digitally via Asian PSN (it’s the same low price in all countries over there) – simple, the included DLC…
Over in Asia, you can buy the game with or without the “All-in-One” DLC pack, it’s $138 without and $248 with. The review code we got for the western version of the game came with the DLCs, so that explains why the price is higher – I wonder if you’ll have both options digitally when it launches later on today? But, I hear you cry, what do you get in the DLC pack? Well, I hope you’re sitting comfortably…
(Launch Edition) Detective Support Pack
Newbie Detective Pack
Drone Racing Pack
Extract Crafter Pack
Ace Detective Pack
Drone Frame: Decked-out Drone
Drone Frame: Drone-nyan
Drone Frame: Kaito’s Lifelike Pigeon
Drone Frame: UFO
10 Play Passes
Haruka Sawamura So Much More! Figurine
Haruka Sawamura DREAMLINE Figurine
Ono Michio Figurine
Bram Sylvania III Figurine
Rental Cats: First Litter
Rental Cats: Second Litter
Rental Cats: Third Litter
Rental Cats: Fourth Litter
Rental Cats: Fifth Litter
Extra Camera Filters
Hit the Town with Saori
Sana Mikama – Racing Jacket
Tsukino Saotome – Refined Lady
Amane – Kimono
Nanami Matsuoka – Jacket
Energy Ball Extract
Energy Explosion Extract
Instant Kill Extract
Fire Elemental Extract
Lightning Elemental Extract
Fighting Spirit Dance Extract
Dance of Life Extract
Mystical Dance Extract
Some of the above may just be included, as I think they were the weekly free DLC from the PS4 edition, but the majority are from the DLC pack you could buy previously. Basically, you get outfits for the girls you can woo, decorative items for your office, new frames for your drones (I use the pigeon one), and a bunch of ‘cheat’ items…
The ‘Extracts’ are essentially cheat items that make the game much easier, granting you superhuman abilities so that you can breeze through the tougher battles without having to worry about ever losing. For example, if you activate the Energy Ball Extract then you can fire purple magical balls from your hands for a short period, the Mystical dance lets you flip backwards and instantly restore your health and EX meter, and the Instant Kill lets you thrust into the floor and diminish an entire health bar for every enemy you’re fighting.
These Extracts are unlimited, with a cool-down timer between uses. So, you can use these strategically to heal yourself or wipe out entire hordes of enemies without wasting your recovery items or even touching the bad guys. I’ve been using them, as it’s cool to summon magic “hadoukens” and fill the screen with a bright purple glow, but they aren’t essential to beating the game.
Should you buy it?
Yes. As someone who loved the game on the PS4 Pro, the game looks and feels even more incredible now. The lighting is much better, the framerate is buttery smooth, pulling off combos and chasing goons is much more fluid, drone racing is more responsive, and the loading times are virtually non-existent. I’ve had a great time replaying the story, tracking down those responsible for removing the eyes of their victims, all whilst patrolling the streets of Kamurocho looking for random street fights.
As I said in the PS4 review, the developers who wrote the narrative and came up with all the wacky side cases are total bonkers. If you’re not hunting the molesting trio who steal panties, touch women’s butts, and flashes them in dark alleys, then you’ll be taking pictures of cheating spouses or even chasing after a wig that has blown off in the wind! There are fifty side cases to complete on top of the 50+ hour main story, presenting you with easily over 100 hours of gameplay should you strive to obtain the platinum trophy.
If you’ve not played the game before, but you’ve seen or played the Yakuza series, you’re going to love this game. It takes everything which was great about the real-time combat games and throws in a dark, gritty thriller narrative with Ace Attorney-like court sessions and lots of fun mini-games. When I played this originally, I spent about 10-15 hours simply playing the Mario Party-like VR game and the ‘House of the Dead’ arcade cabinet.
Although I initially would have questioned why this wasn’t a free upgrade at this point, I think the enhancements are worth the price. However, I have a suspicion that the reason PS4 owners aren’t getting a free upgrade is simply because Xbox gamers can’t get one, due to the game not releasing on the earlier consoles. A £10 upgrade fee would have been a nice option for supporters of the game last-gen, but I feel Microsoft may not have been happy with that either.
As with all the latest Yakuza games, Judgment has a built-in photo mode in the guise of an actual camera. You can whip it out and zoom in or out and even take selfies whilst the hostile yakuza thugs chase after you. Judgment comes with a handful of filters but the ‘All-in-One’ DLC (which I talked about above) actually comes with a bunch of new filters to play with. The above image shows about 3/4 of the filters you have to choose from.
The PS5 has two controller features that aren’t possible on the other two platforms that Judgment is launching on today – Haptic Feedback and resistive triggers. Does it make use of them… no. Okay, there is your standard rumble, which feels more impactful and precise with the haptics, but there’s no advanced use of the feature or any resistive triggers – they simply didn’t bother adding support for those. The game does, if you enable it, make use of the controller speaker for phone calls, but there’s no lightbar use either.
In terms of activities and trophy-tracking… I don’t know – we can only see if those work when the trophies go live on the PSN servers. As of now, they’re not there. Looking at the trophies in offline mode though, they are identical to the PS4 version and don’t seem to have a percentage indicator on them, so I don’t think they’ll tell you how far you’re through certain goals.
It’ll be nice if the game has a quick load activity card, so you can get into the game super fast from the home screen, but I’ll have to monitor if that appears later on today.
Kamuro of the Dead – my first try!
This new enhanced version of Judgment is the definitive way to experience the dark and gritty mystery on the current-gen machines. The game is essentially the same as the 2019 PS4 edition, albeit with a few arcade machines swapped out, but it feels new and fresh thanks to the smoother framerate, updated textures and lighting, and increased resolution. You’ll easily lose over a hundred hours if going for the platinum, becoming absorbed within the engrossing narrative and solid gameplay mechanics. The only negative is that the game didn’t offer a 4K/30 mode as we saw in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, but the 60fps mode is very stable and never buckled at any point.
If you’ve never played the game, you need to buy and play this masterpiece. If you’ve played the PS4 version and want to experience it all over again (as there’s no save import option), then you’re going to love how the game now looks and feels.
- - Looks great with much sharper and brighter visuals
- - Runs at a perfect 60fps
- - Came with all the DLC (may vary based on the version you get)
- - The story is brilliant
- - Combat is heavy and exciting
- - No alternative higher resolution option
- - Some assets are still fuzzy
- - No free/cheap upgrade option for PS4 owners, plus no way to import saves