Yakuza 5 is coming to PlayStation 3 consoles in December 2012 -- probably Japan only at first, though that's not clear yet -- sporting a brand new engine and a wider range of locations to visit than previous games offered. It's all about the number 5, a Famitsu report reveals (via Andriasang), as the sequel features five playable characters and five cities to visit.
Over the course of the game, players will travel to Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Hokkaido. Series regular Kazuma Kiryu returns as a main character, and he'll be joined by Shun Akiyama and Taiga Saejima, returning playable characters from Yakuza 4. Haruka Sawamura, an important NPC from previous Yakuza games, makes her playable debut in the fifth game. Then there's the newcomer, Tatsuo Shinada.
Shinada is a disgraced baseball player who was banned from the sport after he was caught gambling, though it's suggested that he may not be guilty after all. He's deep in debt when we first meet him in Yakuza 5, and something tells me that his fortunes will change by the time the credits roll
Yakuza 5 picks up sometime after the events of Yakuza 4 and connects directly with the previous game. Our characters have changed somewhat since we last saw them. Kazuma now lives in Fukuoka, working as a taxi driver. Saejima is back in prison. Haruka lives in Osaka where she's trying to make it in the entertainment world. Osaka is also Shun's destination when the story opens, though why he's going there isn't clear.
That's the extent of the specifics revealed. Famitsu reports that Yakuza 5 will offer more content than any of the Yakuza games that preceded it, and that twice the amount of time has been spent developing it in comparison to the rest. It's all just PR wordplay until we see it in action though. Hopefully that will happen soon, what with 2012's E3 in just a few weeks away.