Publisher: Vivendi Games
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Release Date: June 12, 2007
When first announced, I expected the worst from Scarface: The World is Yours: an unnecessary, uninspired cash-grab on a decades-old film license. But I was wrong, and I give all the credit in the world to Radical Entertainment for not phoning it in and actually putting out a product that was both well received and snatched up by over a million gamers. You've given us hope for the future of licensed gaming, though I suspect this positive attitude of mine will subside once the summer movie games start showing up.
In an odd turn of events, Scarface's first next-gen iteration will not come via the previously announced (and then quietly cancelled) Xbox 360 version. Instead, Radical and Vivendi are bringing the adventures of Tony Montana to the Nintendo Wii in June, taking full advantage of the console's unique motion controls while losing zero content in the process. Aside from some gameplay tweaking to make the core experience a bit shorter (and thus better suited to casual gamers), Scarface: The World is Yours should be well represented in all its chainsaw-swinging, f-bomb-dropping, and drug-slinging glory.
In Brian de Palma's 1983 film, "Scarface," Tony Montana (portrayed by Al Pacino) is a Cuban refugee who comes to America with nothing and quickly rises through the underworld to become an unparalleled drug kingpin. In the spectacularly famous final scene, Montana, having snorted a shockingly large amount of cocaine, fights off waves of invaders inside his mansion, eventually succumbing to his wounds. Instead of seeing this as an ending, Radical saw it as an opportunity to create a sequel that begs the hypothetical question, "What if he had survived?"
Whatever you may think of the original film (I thought it was severely overrated), there's no denying that Montana is an excellent character. He's impulsive and explosive, and a game set in the "Scarface" universe just wouldn't be worth making unless gamers could step into the shoes of the infamous coke baron. Sure enough, The World is Yours is packed with the volcanic personality of the film's iconic protagonist and is overflowing with profanity and a stunning amount of violence. Though Montana has lived to see another day, his previous empire has crumbled, forcing players to rebuild his regime on the mean streets of Miami.
Unsurprisingly, Scarface is a free-roaming open-world adventure in an urban setting; in other words, it's a Grand Theft Auto clone. But as clones go, it compares favorably to its spiritual predecessor and has quite a bit to offer in terms of non-essential content and gameplay mechanisms. As gamers progress through the narrative, they can purchase virtual vehicles and exotic merchandise, as well as enlist the services of henchmen. As you do this, you'll also gain reputation points, which are mainly earned by completing missions. Boosting your reputation is essential to your progression, as you must be at a certain level to unlock plot points and complete the adventure.
One of the more enduring aspects of Montana's fictional persona is his propensity to drop amusingly brash one-liners. Among is the best is this following gem: "All I have in this world is my balls and my word, and I don't break them for no one." Radical apparently thought highly enough of this quote to institute the Balls meter in Scarface, which Tony can fill up before entering Blind Rage mode. When in a Blind Rage, the screen turns red, and Montana enters a first-person perspective. For a few fleeting seconds, players are invincible, significantly more accurate with a firearm, and have unlimited ammunition. As the late Rick James famously quipped, "Cocaine is a hell of a drug."
Scarface makes use of both the Wiimote and the Nunchuk attachment to bring the high-intensity experience to life on the Wii. In my short hands-on session at the Sierra Spring Event last Tuesday, I didn't get a great feel for the control scheme, but I did take note of its basic features. Aiming is handled with the pointer of the Wiimote, which was definitely a bit tricky at first, but unlike some other Wii games, you won't have to hold up your arm over the whole course of the game. Once you put away your weapon, the camera reticle will disappear, allowing you the ability to rest your arm.
Movement is mapped to the analog stick, while the various trigger buttons are responsible for your firearm actions. Holding Z activates the lock-on option, while B is the main fire button. Tapping C will unleash a burst of three shots, which is typically enough to take down a common enemy. Chainsaw movements are mapped to the Wiimote, which means full-body dismemberments are possible with just a few precise movements. The motion-sensing capabilities of the Nunchuk also come into play, as the 'Chuk is used to interact with NPCs and taunt enemies. A well-placed taunt following a kill can add mightily to your Balls meter.
Aside from the obvious changes to the control scheme, Scarface looks to be pretty much the same game it was last year. However, a little digging reveals that the gameplay has been reworked a bit to appeal to a less-hardcore audience. As gamers complete key missions, experience and rewards will come more quickly than in the past, shaving off several hours that would have likely been spent dabbling in side missions.
According to Ryan French, associate producer on the title, this was done to increase accessibility — not ease of play. "We don't want kids to play the game," he said, "but even with that said, the adults that play it are probably more casual gamers on the Wii than on the other versions." French expects that the main game will last upwards of twenty hours, even after the modifications.
Scarface: The World is Yours falls into a thoroughly bizarre subgenre: open-world action game based on an ancient film license. Oddly enough, the game is not alone on the months-old Wii, as EA's The Godfather: Blackhand Edition just hit stores in March. And though French emphatically recommended his competitor's entry, his own game will arrive in stores some three months after that of the Corleones. Barring a last-minute development mishap, Scarface for the Wii should sharply replicate the solid film-inspired experience of its last-gen predecessors.
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