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Scarface: The World is Yours

Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: VU Games
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Mission-Based Driving

Graphics & Sound:

My reaction to the announcement of Scarface: The World is Yours was the same as my reaction to The Godfather, “Why?” As much as I love both movies, neither seemed to scream for video game adaptations. But, the guys and gals over at Radical Entertainment saw potential and managed to put together a game that provides a fun, open experience while remaining true to the source material.

One of my greater fears for Scarface was the voice work -- in particular, Tony Montana. It is hard to find someone who can’t do a Tony impersonation, but most range anywhere from bad to awful. Though Al Pacino doesn’t provide the voice work for Tony, the stand-in is spot-on in his portrayal. The in-game version of Tony is a dead ringer for the movie version, right down to the smallest of details. Tony’s digital counterpart is just as great and manages to capture every minor tick and gesture seen in the movie. The rest of the game’s cast, which includes the talents of Robert Loggia, Michael Rappaport and Cheech Marin, also does a great job.

Though Tony has obviously received the most attention, the rest of the game looks good. Miami is just as flashy in the game as in the movie and, though it doesn’t completely recreate the city, it is still recognizable. Fans of the movie will even be able to pick out notable locations from the movie.


Gameplay:

Though the license of a successful movie brings with it a fair amount of pressure, the presence of the Grand Theft Auto series makes it hard for anyone to break into the genre. While other games have managed to somewhat escape GTA’s shadow, Scarface has the added pressure of Vice City, which more or less cribbed parts of the movie for the game’s plot. In order to escape a simple retelling of the movie’s plot, Scarface picks up at the end of the movie during the film's epic shootout. Tony manages to escape, but is left with nothing. From here, the plot is more of a general outline for accomplishing the goal of retaking Tony’s criminal empire. Playing through the game doesn’t require that you’ve seen the film, but it does help when trying to make connections to some characters and events.

In addition to breaking away from story comparisons, Scarface also makes a number of changes to the traditional GTA formula. Every mission connects to the larger picture in one way or another, giving the entire game a more cohesive feel. Living up to the developer’s idea of having you “play” as Tony, all of the missions you accomplish as you try to retake Miami are for Tony’s benefit alone.

Once you begin to retake Tony’s empire, Scarface opens up to being more than an open-ended action game. Keeping your empire intact is just as hard as reclaiming it. Buying property gives you more than a timed influx of cash and a place to save. Instead, each property you own carries with it certain responsibilities. You’ll have to make sure each of your businesses is receiving the right amount of stock as well as making sure you don’t over-saturate the market. You’ll also have to hire goons to keep your interests protected.

Another original element found in Scarface is the “Balls Meter”, which is meant to represent the insane amount of punishment Tony is able to take in the movie. As you go about your business, taking unnecessary risks, performing well in combat or taunting opponents will fill up the meter. Once the meter is filled, you can enter a special “rage” mode that grants you invulnerability and unlimited ammo for a short span of time. The downside to the “Balls Meter” is that it can either make missions too easy or abnormally hard. Since there is no way to tell where a player’s meter will be at any given part of a mission, there are a few troublesome balance issues.


Difficulty:

Scarface is a fair challenge, though how much of a challenge will depend on how familiar you are with the genre. If you’ve played nearly every open-ended game out there, you’ll have an easier time settling into the game’s flow.

Missions start out easy and ramp up slowly, though there are a few moments where you’ll hit a really hard mission only to find a bunch of easy ones right after it. Again, many of the difficulty issues I faced were due mostly to balance issues introduced by the Balls Meter. Some areas that felt too easy with the meter would suddenly become difficult without it.


Game Mechanics:

Aiming is an aspect that Scarface has managed to get right despite the GTA series’ numerous failed attempts. Aiming works similar to most action games, allowing you to freely aim at whatever you want. An auto-aiming option is also available for those who aren’t the best of shots, though you’ll actually gain more points on the Balls Meter by not using the auto-aim option. Still, if you need to make a crucial shot, the system is there and works with one quick button press. Even if you’re using auto-aim, you can still earn a few extra points on your meter by targeting specific body parts.

Though Scarface makes numerous improvements to the GTA formula, it also makes a few changes that aren’t for the best. You still have a “Wanted” meter that indicates your current standing with rival gangs and the police. The higher the bar, the more attention you’ve brought on yourself. Once spotted, the police go into pursuit mode, at which point you’ll need to escape. Each cop has a tracking radius that you need to get out of before making a getaway. At the same time, you’ll also have to make sure a second meter doesn’t fill up, otherwise even if you do manage to get out of the radius, you will still be caught.

While part of me still thinks that Scarface: The World is Yours was a game that really didn’t need to be made, I’m a big enough person to admit that I enjoyed the game more than I originally thought I would. Rather than simply rehashing the same open-ended GTA experience and slapping on the Scarface license, Radical Entertainment has managed to craft an enjoyable experience that isn’t revolutionary, but is still worth a try.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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