|System: Xbox, PS2, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Radical||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Vivendi||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Vaughn||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Vaughn Smith
Expanding on the Scarface universe is dangerous territory. In the 1983 De Palma/Stone remake of the original Scarface (1932), Al Pacinos off-kilter maniacal druglord, Tony Montana, is shot to death in his mansion while his world crumbles around him. Some might say his demise was inevitable; the only possible outcome for a figure as tragic and troubled as Montana. Radical, Sierra and Vivendi Universal disagree and so they challenged the canon of Scarface. What if Tony Montana had survived? What if he had to rebuild his empire, his reputation, and his power, piece by piece in an attempt to get what was coming to him - the world and everything in it for a second time? Scarface: The World Is Yours dares to ask these questions and provides the answers, over tons of bullets, thousands of f-sharps, countless miles, millions of dollars, hundreds of conversations and over 40 + hours of gameplay. Scarface purists will either shudder at the thought of the resurrection of Tony Montana or greedily dig into the underbelly of 80s Miami scene. For those who dare to tug on the tigers tail, prepare for an experience that will satiate your lust for money, power and women while simultaneously entertaining you almost every step of the way.
While a viewing of Scarface on DVD isnt required material before playing the game, it will certainly go a long way in preparing gamers to take over the role of Tony Montana. In fact, doing so will only increase the appreciation once you begin to control Tony and see just how close Radical has come to capturing one of the most iconic movie characters of the 20th century. Tony not only looks like Al Pacino, but embodies the essence of the character right down to the swagger, the cockiness, the rage, the humor and the pathos of Tony Montana. Tony is a complicated character and while it would have been easy to keep him as one dimensional as every other free roam protagonist, Radical captured the nuances of Al Pacinos performance and managed to somehow transform this into a playable character and keep it fresh over the dozens of hours of gameplay.
The inevitable comparisons to GTA: Vice City are unavoidable, due to both games 80s time period, similar locales (Vice City was based on Miami) and aspects of the story and sandbox gameplay, but it should be noted that while Vice City did come first, it was clearly a homage to Scarface. Observant movie buffs will even find more than a few references to the movie in Vice City such as an apartment bathroom which houses a chainsaw and blood spatter, a suit for the main character that looks very similar to Tony Montanas, and last but not least the climactic final battle which is very reminiscent of the shootout in Tonys mansion.
Instead of feeling like a me too GTA: VC ripoff, Scarface almost immediately sets itself apart from the current pack of free-roam carjacking, gang games. Players eager to roam the streets, creating carnage and destruction by killing innocent people will be surprised to discover that such despicable behavior isnt possible with Mr. Montana. Tonys moral code is strongly intact, thanks to Al Pacino who strongly encouraged Radical to adhere to the adage I never %$#@ed with anyone who didnt have it coming to them. If you try to take an innocent life Tony himself will tell you he doesnt need that %$#@ in his life, just like he did in the movie when he refused to kill an innocent woman and her children who would have died if he had attempted to kill his target. This restriction is later lifted in the game when the player purchases a playable driver, enforcer and assassin who do not adhere to such moral standards. Tony can carjack vehicles when he needs to, but the need for that isnt quite as strong as in other games, as eventually Tony can just phone his driver who will instantly deliver a desired vehicle (as long as Tony already owns it).
First you get the money .
The foundation of Scarface is built upon First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women. Tonys immediate need upon starting the game is to get cash. Cash comes in two varities: clean and dirty. Money earned from drug deals, gang shootings and other missions is dirty and can be lost if Tony dies. Laundering the money at the banks in town turns the cash from dirty to clean, where his cash stash will be safe if he goes down at anytime. Both dirty and clean money can be used at anytime to purchase available items. The money system in Scarface is of utmost importance as the entire game is build upon acquiring things. You will spend a lot of your time earning cash and trying to figure out new and innovative ways to get money faster. The idea however, is not to amass a fortune but rather to spend it lavishly as Tony Montana would. Open the Exotics catalog and let your fingers do the shopping everything from henchmen, vehicles, boats, jukeboxes, outfits, statues, remains of loved ones etc. is available. The more you buy, the more reputation points you earn. Earning Rep points is another mechanic that sets Scarface apart from other games in the genre. As your reputation grows in Miami, people will begin treating you much differently. Where you start off the game from nothing and are treated with disdain by most, your growing reputation will eventually begin to earn you the respect Tony deserves. Strangers will know who you are. People will volunteer their vehicles where as before they might have ignored you at best or tried to run you over at worst. Radical really delivered on this aspect of Scarface because it feels right in line with exactly what should be happening.
Money also buys locations in the areas of Miami Tony needs to takeover. For you to do so, a mission will have to be successfully completed before the location becomes available. Once this is accomplished Tony can use the store to act as a front for drugs, which you will have to manage and protect.
Then you get the powerPower, money and rep are synonymous in Scarface to a degree. Each element is a stepping stone that is interconnected to the overall picture ie: you cant have one without the other. Power comes by way of the Scarface universe aligning in Tonys favor. Tony isnt a street thug who will busy himself with useless busy work, getting his hands dirty doing ridiculous missions that are beneath him. For those, hell farm the work out to his hired help. His driver will not only pick up him with a trunk full of weapons every time he calls him, but hell also be able to go out on his own and steal hotcars to be delivered to a location, at which time hell be paid. Upon completion of the mission, the player can then instantly switch back to Tony, which pockets the cash earned in Tonys dirty money category. Enforcers will be asked to rough up gangs, remove some scum from the streets of Miami who are getting in the way etc. Assassins will be sent out to take some poor S.O.B. out of the equation entirely. As mentioned, these playable characters can hit the streets with pure abandon, shooting innocents and causing all sorts of mayhem in their wake. Just be warned that if the cop or gang heat is too high (more on this momentarily) chances are survival will be extremely limited.
Then you get the women
Getting women in Scarface isnt quite the hot-coffee mod experience it could have been in GTA: San Andreas. Tony will talk with many women (with hilarious results) and as his rep grows, certain women will agree to hang out with him at his mansion. Drive there and youll see them hanging out in front of Tonys office. Complete the game with 100% (which is no easy task) and youll really get the women. 5 Femme Fatales will accompany Tony on his missions and they wont take no for an answer.
Certainly you get the idea that there is a lot more going on here than youre usual free-roamer. While juggling money, missions, drug deals, gang eliminations and whatever else the game throws at you can be overwhelming at first, it never feels like its too much nor does it feel out of context. Scarface was created with an action/reaction model, in that if some area of the game is causing you a headache in terms of frustration, there are ways to decrease it. If the cops are showing up on the scene during a gangnest elimination too quickly or are too aggressive, simply pay down your cop heat (or gang heat if the gangs are too aggressive). If you dont have enough money to do that, stop everything youre doing and do some missions to earn money to pay it down, because that will definitely take care of matters. If youre being killed too quickly in battle, youll need to understand how the Balls meter works and take full advantage of its unique properties. Quite simply, acting ballsy, driving crazy, taunting someone after you kill them (during the heat of battle no less) will fill up your balls meter. Doing so enables Tony to go into Blind Rage mode which was created to act as a form of invulnerability, much like the end of the Scarface movie when Tonys getting shot but still continues to fight. While in a Blind Rage (FPS mode), Tony will earn health back for each kill while being impervious to danger himself.
With the sheer amount of things to do, controlling Tony and every aspect of his life is a breeze. Carrying up to 4 weapons at a time, players can choose to shoot their way out of a confrontation or simply holster their current weapon and fight with fists. The fighting mechanic consists of shoving and punching and isnt too indepth, since its rare that Tony will escape the violent mentality of the gangs using just his fists. The shooting system is by far the best one seen to date compared to other games in the genre. Players can either aim manually for various body parts and earn more balls for doing so, or they can use the functional target-lock system which will target the closest enemy Tony is facing and via the R analog stick, allow for specific areas (from the head right down to the right and left testicles) to be shot at. Even while driving cars or boats, Tony can shoot at his enemies and is given a full 360 degrees range of motion. Sometimes cars can be even be used as extra armor when taking on large numbers of enemies since Tony can shoot at them (again either manually or target-locked) while in a vehicle. Just remember to leap out when the car starts to burn up.
Accessing missions, checking the map, allocating funds to expenditures, paying down gang and cop heat, calling for a vehicle or weapons or taking on other missions for the other playable characters is accomplished via the satellite phone menu. While it might take awhile for the player to become accustomed to everything that Tony has available to him in the menu screens, after a couple of hours it will all become second nature.
To keep things interesting and players on their toes, Radical implemented a mini-game style feature for laundering money, intimidating gang members, drug deals and for fast-talking cops. In the style of a Tiger Woods swing-mechanic, players must hold down either the B (Xbox) or Circle (PS2) button until it gets into the sweet zone. Doing so will allow Tony to negotiate a better percentage when laundering money or get a better price for drugs etc. At first this feature is quite the novelty and not taken too seriously, but youll definitely get the sweats later in the game when the stakes are much higher.
The vehicles Tony will locate on the streets or be able to purchase from the Exotics catalog all have their own feel to them, but all transportation in the game is handled with precision and never feels awkward or floaty. Vehicles are susceptible to realtime damage which occur from accidents, gunfire or other incidents and it should be noted that driving dangerously and/or recklessly may get the notice of the boys in blue.
A visit from the fuzz is never a celebration in Scarface as Murphys Law will attest, when things can go wrong, they will. You will lose millions of dollars over the course of one game simply by being taken down by the cops because youve forgotten to pay down their heat. Once the cops arrive, you will be given an opportunity to get away from them, but depending on your heat level, they might not give up. If thats the case the will game will inform you that youre F-ed and usually youll go down in a hail of bullets and your dirty money (all of it in your possession) will be confiscated. However on two occasions I managed to escape even after being told that I was f-sharped, simply by a series of events that even I was amazed to see come together before my eyes. Im not sure if this was a glitch or if it is possible to escape the cops if the planets align correctly, but it was pretty darn cool when I got away. It should be noted that in keeping with Tonys moral code, going on a cop shooting spree will actually detract from your balls meter, rather than increase it. Thus youll never get into BR mode when taking on the cops and the DEA.
If driving, fighting, spending and shooting like Tony is cool, wait until you walk and talk as Tony. Voiced by Andre Sogliuzzo who was once Al Pacinos driver, Tony Montana the videogame character is a sight to behold. With a voice as close to Pacino as humanly possible, Radical also spent a lot of time perfecting the animation of Mr. Montana, right down to the hand gestures, the shoulder posturing and the cocky arrogant swagger where the arms flail to the outside while he walks. Put that together with some of the most wild dialogue ever recorded for a video game (featuring 250 conversations up to 8 lines deep that Tony can have in the game world with a variety of characters) and you truly have your very own Scarface at your fingertips. Conversations are initiated with the touch of a button and fans of the source material will really be entertained at how the character has been captured. Andre Sogliuzzo brings Montana to life brilliantly and peppers the delivery with inflections and nuances that only true Scarface fans will appreciate. Seeing Tony brought to life is worth the price of admission alone, so its a complete bonus that the rest of the game is such a gem.
Visually the game world of Miami looks quite good and there are no perceptible load times as Tony (or others) drive from one area to the next. Occasionally cutscenes will occur when entering a building, but thats only if a story arc happens to begin or end there, usually Tony can enter buildings or other areas without interruption. Character models are impeccable with Tony being the standout. Former DC/Marvel/Malibu artist Scott Lee and his art team at Radical managed to pull off creating an ingame Tony that looks absolutely realistic and in no way feels video game-y. Scott said to mention that if you like the look of the womens various assets in the game, you can thank him personally. He did it just for you guys.
Since the game can be played in 780p on the Xbox, youre going to get the most bang for your buck on that system, but really the PS2 looks very good as well. The Xbox 360 version was scrapped last year in favor of tightening up the current gen game rather than dropping everything just to create a next gen port and the game is far better for it. Currently the Xbox game isnt playable on the Xbox 360, but perhaps that will change in the coming weeks or months.
With Tony present and accounted for, all that was left for the team at Radical was to populate this virtual Miami with a ton of colorful characters and they did so with the help of some Hollywood starpower. Robert Loggia, Cheech and Chong, Randy Gervais, James Woods and Jay Mohr are just a small sampling of the people youll hear throughout Scarface. Toss in a soundtrack that features tons of 80s classics and even some newer tunes just for fun, and you can relive the 80s all over again. Sound effects such as car motors, explosions, gunshots, boats, helicopters are equally as impressive.
A game this ambitious will definitely have its shortcomings and Scarface: TWIY is not exempt. Some might find many of the missions repetitive due to the fact that most involve wiping out rival gangs. As the game progresses the gang numbers increase to the point where youre completely outnumbered and even your Rage meter might not help even the score. Expect to replay many missions. As well you wont find unique missions like controlling RC cars and whatnot like youve experienced in the GTA series, simply because this is Scarface. Tonys not going to screw around with toys or other inventive ways to kill people; thats just not the way he does things. While I can appreciate that, others might find the Tony way a little too repetitive after hour 40. Thats right .hour 40. Scarface: TWIY is a long game, even if you skip all of the extra missions and just attempt to barrel right through the story. Personally I never felt bored during my 50 hours + with the game as I just loved to experiment (you will see some very cool things if you go off the beaten path). It might be too long for some, but you cant complain about getting ripped off in terms of overall play value. My only other complaint involves the map system which can be a little hard to make out where you are located at any given time and the Miama layout, which was created in such a way that often times there is only one particular way to another section of town. It feels a little limited in terms of getting around quickly.
Radical has delivered a big budget high-quality experience that further blurs the line separating video games and movies. In this day and age, its not enough to copy a popular game. Youve got to innovate and rejuvenate the genre and introduce entirely new ideas and all I can say to Radical is Mission accomplished. Had Scarface: TWIY involved just running around, jacking cars and shooting people, it would have been another in a long line of me-too GTA wannabes. With its emphasis on action and management, the game is more along the lines of an action RTS which everyone can play and understand without feeling overwhelmed or inadequate. When you finally return Tony Montana to power, you feel youve actually accomplished something. Youve been through the wringer. Youve carved your way back to the top. It feels good to be Tony Montana, if only for a short period of time. If youre an action fan who is old enough to play this M rated game (with its 6000 + F-sharps) and more specifically, if youre a Scarface fan from wayback, you owe it to yourself to walk a few miles in Tonys white shoes.
CCC Site Director
Its like they brought him back from the dead, meng! by DMarcus Beatty
Scarface has been a legend for as long as its been around. Theres an undeniable and mysterious appeal about Al Pacinos portrayal of the rags-to-riches drug lord with a sense of honor. Pacinos Scarface has everything from posters to rap songs praising him and it was only a matter of time before someone immortalized him in a videogame.
Scarface: The World is Yours takes an alternate reality look at Tony Montana, exploring what may have been if Tony Montana hadnt been killed at the end of Scarface. The game picks up immediately after the failed attempt on Scarfaces life, and Tony must rebuild his empire from the ground up.
S:TWIY is, appropriately enough, set in the sandbox style of GTA. One thing that Scarface does that GTA or any of its various clones doesnt do is make the player feel like a kingpin. In GTA, you steal and store cars. In Scarface, you can actually call one of your henchmen to deliver vehicles to you instead of having to steal another car or backtrack to where you left a favorite car. The player also has access to all of his weapons from the trunk of his vehicle. This ability goes a long way towards establishing Montanas place as a leader and not as a mere go-fer.
Montana also must manage his empire to make sure that he remains on top, and he cant do this simply by running random missions. The cash that you earn can be used to buy cameras for your fronts and to hire protection for your various locations in case of a rival gang attack. Cash can also be used to purchase new songs for the game soundtrack, weapon upgrades, clothing, décor for the mansion, rare vehicles, and even hired goons to help out.
One very unique addition to the GTA formula is the balls meter, which tries to replicate Montanas brazen never say die attitude. Players are rewarded for performing gutsy moves, such as performing insane stunts in cars, shooting enemies in certain areas, or even taunting foes after you kill them. These actions give Montana points which go towards filling a Balls meter. When completely filled, Tony Montana goes into a rage, and the game shifts to a first person view, allowing Montana to mow down his foes with invincibility borne of his blind aggression. You also gain health for every enemy that you kill when in this mode, which makes it an extremely useful ability.
The drug theme is represented in the game as well, as Tony must earn and maintain fronts and where he must regularly deliver the goods to keep his cash flow strong. While delivering though, Tony will face extra heat from the police and from rival gangs, which will obviously make deliveries tougher. After receiving cash for his transactions Tony must take the dirty money to the bank to be laundered, since being caught with dirty money is as bad as being caught with the product.
To many fans disappointment, Al Pacino did not reprise his voice as Scarface for the game, although he did have a role in choosing the actor to play his replacement. Al Pacinos likeness, however, makes it into the game intact, with the title character animated eerily close to the real thing. Also, the voice actor does a fairly good job imitating Mr. Pacino, so fans angered at the lack of Pacino in the game will probably be able to overlook the performance.
The soundtrack to Scarface will consist of the entire soundtrack to the motion picture as well as a number of new tracks added in, and will be available for listening throughout all the gameplay and not just driving, which will make for some intense shootouts scenes. The games developers decided to allow the player to customize his own music choices for the game, giving anyone the ability to go purist and only listen to soundtrack songs or to hear modern songs. The track list is massive, compiling numerous songs from the 80s along with modern songs in addition to the original soundtrack. Songs run the gamut from Run DMC to Judas Priest, including reggae, hip-hop, pop, Latin, and even country.
Although the game seems to be stretching the Scarface story a bit, it definitely seems to be getting the feel of Scarface right. If Vivendi can accurately recreate the feeling of the movie in an interactive and fun game, there will be a lot of pleased Scarface fans this year. Look for The World is Yours to hit store shelves in September, meng!
CCC Freelance Writer