When the first Yakuza game came out a couple of years ago, it was compared to GTA: Shinjuku before anyone actually played it when, in actual fact, the best comparison would be to call it Takeshi Kitano's Shenmue. It was deep, with a sprawling plot and a lot of things to see and do, be it numerous side quests to just exploring the city and sampling everything there is to find. And, of course, it had some of the most wince-inducing combat in any video game, with anything that isn't nailed down (and a few things that are) all being potential weapons.
Yakuza 2 is more of the same, in both good ways and bad.
In good ways, because it doesn't rejig the combat system or the exploration aspects, which were standout parts of the first game, so people who played the first game know what they're doing as soon as they fire up the game. And it's bad because you're walking the same locations as before, or a new city that doesn't look too different but offers different mini games, sub quests and things to find.
The biggest change from the first game is there isn't a translation, so the game is in Japanese with subtitles, which actually aids the feel of the game in my opinion, making it feel more like one of Kitano's yakuza epics. There is, however, a glitch with some of the audio in the cinematics, mainly as a result of the disc format (which also delays the game's start-up for a second or two compared to other PS2 discs), so occasionally dialogue can come across as fuzzy, for lack of a better word. However, the soundtrack and ambient sound isn't affected.
Whilst some gamers may be put off at the thought of reading subtitles throughout the cinematics, another potentially off-putting device is the game opens with a ten minute cinematic, and the first chapter of the game is an optional flashback of the first game, which refreshes the memory of returning gamers whilst bringing new ones up to speed, but that's another ten minutes before you can hit the ground running.
Whilst the characters are strong, the plot isn't as good as the original game, partly because it just doesn't pack the punch of the first, but also because the antagonists of the first aren't around (for obvious reasons), so needed replacing but they simply lack the depth and the menace offered by the first games' group.
The game has, however, picked up an absurdist sense of humour which does freshen up proceedings, so side quests can also involve finding someone's kidnapped cat, or a run-in with several yakuza dressed in nappies (yes, you did read that correctly), so it isn't po-faced by any means.
There's also a bigger selection of things to do, with the batting cage, pachinko parlours, arcades, casino and dice joint being joined by, among others, a bowling alley, driving range, mah-jong parlour and shogi to while away the time.
Yakuza 2 may feel like Yakuza 1.5 with a few new mini games and a second map added and little else, but as the first game was so well put together it only really needed a few tweaks to tide fans along, especially as Yakuza 3 looks like a radical departure from the first two games.
If you can, pick up the pair of the games and play out the Kazuma Kiiryu saga, each game offering 40+ hours of gameplay easily, and 60-80+ if you get sucked into the world, as can happen.