Just how accurate is the depiction of the yakuza organized crime syndicate in Yakuza 3? Pretty damn accurate, according to actual members of the Japanese crime group. Jake Adelstein spent 12 years as a crime reporter in Japan and was able to infiltrate an actual yakuza hangout. And just out of curiosity, he got three of the members to test out Yakuza 3 and solicit their feedback.
Only one of the three guys was able to actually beat the game. Of course, the other two were at a bit of a disadvantage because they no longer had their pinkie fingers. Yeah, these guys were the real deal.
Above: Yakuza 3 - all the excitement of the yakuza without the worry of losing your extremities
The yakuza told Adelstein the game more or less hit the life of a yakuza dead on, but the actual experience was a bit over-the-top. One reviewer known as "K" said of the character Kiryu, "No yakuza is going to run around getting into fistfights like that. Especially not an executive type. He'll wind up in jail or in the hospital or dead, maybe even whacked by his own people for being a troublemaker."
"Nobody ever dies. It's unrealistic," said another guy. And the third one scoffed at how long the fights last. "Nobody goes around trading blows and crap like that. Usually the first guy to punch wins," said the guy known as "M."
Above: Real-life yakuza battles don't actually look like this
In terms of the actual legacy and politics of the yakuza, they say it was right on. "The stereotypes about the yakuza are more or less correct. The whole plot about resort expansion in Okinawa and the CIA and the politicians involved and all that? Wow ... That's totally happening in Okinawa right now."
Mr. "M" even liked the way the game's food mechanic worked. "I like the fact that you power up by eating real food. Shio ramen gives you a lot of power — CC Lemon, not as much. It all makes sense," he said.
We're now waiting for the Gambino family to give their opinions of Mafia II. Actually, that would make a really good reality show.