Right out of the gate - if you've ever been interested in the Yakuza series but turned off by the number of entries, then Judgment is the game for you. It's a fantastic insight into the world that the franchise has built, but under the guise of a new eye. The game sets itself as a perfect starting point for newcomers, and for those who have grown to love Yakuza over the years it's a fascinating new tale with a different central protagonist to rally behind. All of this is made even better on the Xbox Series X|S, as Judgment has never looked or played better.
For those who don't know, the story puts you in the shoes of a former lawyer turned detective, Takayuki Yagami. Following an event three years prior which turned his life upside down, Yagami is now on the hunt for a serial killer in the series' staple location, Karamucho. Explaining any more would do a disservice to the central mystery that unravels through a number of twists and turns, but just know that each chapter will leave you hooked as you progress.
Across the multiple chapters, you'll engage in a wide range of activities in Karamucho. The bulk of the story is spent beating down bad guys or seeking out evidence to solve the case, but that's only a fraction of what Judgment has to offer. The main crux of these games is the dozens upon dozens of side activities available. You'll spend most of your time outside of missions assisting local citizens in elaborate side quests, making friends, hunting down hidden cats, or jumping into a range of mini-games. There's even a House of the Dead rip-off which is just as glorious as you might expect.
Not every activity is as great as that though. There are some pretty tedious tailing sections that old school Assassin's Creed players will wince at the thought at, and while the investigation side of things is refreshing for the series, it's pretty barebones. It's unlikely you'll become stumped or present the wrong evidence as everything is very clearly labelled in black and white. While it's a solid foundation, we hope the sequel (which is looking like it's being teased) expands upon it with more depth.
But the real question is - how does the Xbox Series X|S version run? It's actually not available on Xbox One, which makes this one of the only truly next-gen exclusives for Xbox at present. While it may be a port of a PS4 title from 2019, it manages to feel fresh and more in line with the recent Yakuza: Like A Dragon. There's a noticeable upgrade in textures, shadows, and resolution which make this version the best available. Unlike Yakuza: Like A Dragon, there are no graphical mode options, so the 4K/60FPS is what you get - but it's 100% the best way to experience the game.
If you've never played Judgment before, what are you waiting for? The remaster is one of the best next-gen exclusives to play right now and has never looked better. If you've already played it, it may be hard to justify the price tag at this point, but the substantial upgrades ensure it's the best the game has ever been. There's nothing in the way of new content outside of all previously released DLC, but Yagami's adventure is just as compelling and original as it once was.