Say hello and goodbye to his little friend.
When someone talks about gangster movies, most people remember The Godfather, with its '40s representation of what the lives of gangsters were like. How about the '80s? How did those gangsters evolve? These were questions that found their answers in Scarface, released into theaters in 1983. In a setting reminiscent to Miami Vice's, the movie told the story of Tony Montana, a cuban exile that arrives in Miami with nothing but his clothes, and ends up taking over the whole town by force. The film was hailed by many for its gritty setting, including the violence, the drug-pushing and the resulting 'being a bad guy is good' feel.
At the end of the story, some mighty violent events happen, and Tony Montana is caught in the crossfire. But what would have happened if things had gone differently? Now, twenty three years later, Radical Entertainment is set on answering that problem with Scarface: The World is Yours, set right into the end of the film, with Tony speaking his famous catchphrase while holding a automatic rifle. It's his mission to get even with with all his enemies, and get the city back to his control. Heavily influenced by Grand Theft Auto, especially by Vice City, which in turn was influenced by Scarface, the game does its best to mimick the latter game's feeling and ambiance. Both musically and visually, the game succeeds in this, making someone who played Vice City feel right at home. When everything gets moving and the time comes to play the game, the situation changes, and many will probably wish they were back in Tommy's, and not Tony's shoes.
The game takes a road similar to The Godfather game released earlier this year: as the game is played, points are added to various attributes, like reputation, money, turf percentages, exotic items found, drugs pushed and... balls. All other attributes are easily explainable, except the... balls. This attribute is measured by how the game is played. If the built-in lock-on system isn't used, and shots are made to count, the balls meter goes up, and when in max, Tony can go into a 'bullet-time' type of rage state, which makes him invulnerable and his shots go right into the targets. The gunplay and fight system in the game are based upon a lock-on system, but can be played freely. The enemy hit detection is sensitive to body parts, and it awards the player for precise shooting. The 'balls' meter also goes up, but much less, for just killing enemies, so the many players who are likely to use the aiming feature won't miss out on the rage attacks. Even so, the action tends to be very forgiving, letting Tony literally walking into full clips of bullets before going down.After a successful kill, Tony can then taunt the victim, and thus net some of the balls' points mentioned earlier. The taunts are mainly movie lines, like 'you think you can (add profanity) me?' or 'say hello to my little friend'. Mostly, these lines seem out of place, and most of the times, theydon't really make sense - if the room is full of dead bodies, who would be scared by Tony's 'friend'? Strange. The weapons can be acquired on site and before levels, while in the mansion. Successfully completing levels unlocks new types of guns. The driving is done exactly like GTA, including the car-jacking everyone's so used to.
The A.I in the game is very poor, with some cases where the enemies stand around looking oblivious to the chaos around. Other attributes like turf and drugs are filled as you play the game, taking in territory from gangs, pushing drugs and making deals with the various 'business' persons in town. The deal-making system is something unique to the game: a meter goes up on screen whenever Tony engages in a discussion with a possible negotiation. By holding down the action button, the meter fills up, and by releasing the button in time with the necessary pressure, the deal goes down successfully, or not. The same meter is used for what I call the "please don't arrest me" type of situations, where Tony will be pulled up by a cop after some mayhem is done, and tries to sweet talk the policeman. If unsuccessful, your 'heat' goes up, and Tony turns into a wanted person. Unfortunately this system is very unprecise, and the game doesn't try too hard to explain how it works, or even when it's supposed to work. Levels use the same kind of mission design everyone who plays GTA, Manhunt, The Godfather and the like are used to, with the classic pick-up, chase, protect, shoot everyone and 'steal this and take there' molds. The repetition comes early on during the story mode, which is nothing that will take more than a few seatings to play through the story mode. After that, there's a lot to be done if one is still interested in the game, as properties and dealers are waiting to be conquered, not to mention enemy territories being turned to Tony's turf.
The control department is a varies from versions: whereas the console games respond quickly to the controls inputted, the PC version has that distinct lag that plagues most console-to-PC ports and makes the game feel floaty and unprecise. Customization is an option, and controllers can be opted instead of the traditional mouse and keyboard setting, leaving the same lag during game play. As a matter of fact, the game plays more fluently using the game's primary control setting.
The presentation of the game is spot on. As far as actor resemblance goes, Tony's facial features and body gestures look like Al Pacino circa 1983, capturing everything that made Pacino's performance remembered. Strangely enough, however, body proportions for the characters seem mighty strange, especially Tony, with big hands and head, compared to the rest of the cast. It ends up making the game's Tony more a caricature than anything else. Character voice work is mostly well done, including famous names like James Woods, Ice T and Rodrigo Santoro. Tony Montana isn't dubbed by Al Pacino, who helped the developer's choose the voice actor for his role, and ends up being a good choice, seeing how the aging actors fared in The Godfather's voice work. James Woods doesn't sound as immersed in the role as he did in GTA San Andreas, but does his job nonetheless.Tony's voice actor sounds spot on in all the fronts, from the detailed curses to the accented pronunciation of words. The soundtrack is just what one would expect from a title set in the '80s, and includes all of the tracks from the movie, including some that were in Vice City (duh!) and GTA III's classic radio station. The music can be played directly from a menu while driving, not using any kind of radio host or anything of the sort.
Across the three platforms the game was released, the visual difference is nigh: a mostly good looking PS2 game ends up looking poorly on the Xbox, and 'ported' poorly on the PC. Options like draw in and aliasing can be tweaked in the PC version of the game, not changing how the game mainly looks overall. The console versions, however, play as any action game should, and make the game a better choice than the current crop of GTA clones, namely Just Cause. Scarface borrows a lot from games from the genre, like Mercenaries, with its merchant options and vehicle delivery, plus its mission briefing style and 'gang' loyalty system... however, the heavier influence, is of course the GTA formula, which the game adds a few twists and turns that make it feel more like an expansion pack than anything else. If you're feeling nostalgic about Vice City, and have thoroughly played that game, found everything and just killed the equivalent of the population of a small country, Scarface: The World is Yours fills the gap for a while. Also, fans of the movie will eat this oportunity up, but it will feel weird to first time movie goers, and not make much sense if they end up watching the movie after playing the game.
The current trend in movie tie-ins with videogames is just a baby and most players should expect to see more and more franchises getting poor game translations. Luckily for this game, it does it a little better than Tarantino's flick-turned-to-game Reservoir Dogs, thanks to the visual and sound fidelity between mediums. Unfortunately, problems like repetition, low difficulty and lack of replay incentive don't let this game sit on the same shelf, quality-wise, as The Godfather or The Warriors, which are still the best movie franchise-revival titles around.