The demo for Ryu Ga Gotoku 3 (hereafter RGG3) was made available on the Japanese PSN approximately a month before the game's release in February earlier this year. The demo put you in the scenario of controlling the main character named Kazuma Kiryu, a member of the Tojo clan of yakuza who is a pretty decent guy to say he is a member of an organised crime family. He has returned from the orphanage he runs in Okinawa due to troubles stirring in Kamuro-cho (based on the real district of Kabuki-cho.)
It is from here that the demo begins and Kazuma remarks that Kamuro-cho is the same as it always has been. Players will notice straight away that although the streets of Kamuro have always been well presented in the prior games of the series, in RGG3 the game's developers have done a great job in bringing the district and its inhabitants to life. More people than ever roam the streets of Kamuro and this combined with the sounds of crowded streets, the many shops and fast food places in the game bring the area to life like never before. Although the level of interaction is not as extensive as some would like it is thorough enough to allow the player to feel that there is much to see and do in Kamuro-cho and lose focus on progressing through the game. Not to fixate on graphics, let's look at the gameplay.
Those familiar with the combat Ryu Ga Gotoku will find themselves right at home with the play system where as those new to the series will be given a tutorial to take them through the controls. The battle system is more akin to those of Streets of Rage or Final Fight where you have to use your fists, feet and whatever is available to beat down on the opponent. There is a lock-on button that allows you to focus on a particular opponent as well as utilise attack combos, throws and the ability to duck and weave away from incoming attacks.
The heat system also makes a return to the game with some extra additions added to it. This is a gauge that can be utilised when you have beaten up enough on the opponent that your gauge is full, allowing you to do a variety of actions only available through this power. They vary from pummeling the opponent with beer bottles to signs, throwing them into walls and cars, stamping on them whilst on the ground to (and this is a personal favourite) spitting a cigar in their face and following up with a jumping haymaker.
Added to this are advanced heat actions. These are moves that can be performed when the heat gauge has been filled to the max (most of it is a glowing blue with a small part at the top a glowing red.) When the gauge is at this point these advanced actions can be cranked out, usually resulting in more elaborate beatdowns (such as getting an enemy in a headlock, butting him with one of his pals, then throwing the other away to the floor.) This results in a very satisfying way of dealing damage and can be utilised in the fight you engage in within the demo.
Those that don't want to fixate on the fighting aspects can find other things to do in Kamuro-cho though. One of those is visiting the hostess clubs where you can pay to spend some time with a highly sophisticated lady who will pour you drinks, light your cigarettes and enjoy idle chatter with you. It's a nice break from the main game and if you get along well enough with the hostess you can take them on dates outside of the club. These involve going to karaoke in one of the clubs dotted around the place or having something to eat together instead. You can also visit the SEGA arcade to have a go on the machines inside (the shooting game is notably decent.) They might just be diversions from the game proper but add to the overall experience non the less.
Add to all of this the story which seems to rotate around troubles in Okinawa which link back to Tokyo, your typical twists and turns as per the prior two games and you'll have a decent journey ahead to play through. RGG3 can be seen as more of the same but if that same is this, well, that isn't too bad now. Here's hoping the finished game is just as high in quality as its predecessors.