Scarface: The World Is Yours

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Vivendi
Developer: Radical


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PS2/Xbox/PC Review - 'Scarface: The World is Yours'

by Andrew Glenn on Oct. 12, 2006 @ 1:36 a.m. PDT

Scarface will create a gameplay environment that authentically recreates the historical time period of the film, touching on politics, news items and events of the day. Players will travel through the steamy, often violent streets of Miami, the irie islands of the Florida Keys, the Bahamas and various other locales and will interact with a world full of seedy and dangerous characters to procure information, negotiate business deals, smuggle contraband and avoid rivals and DEA on a mission to rebuild their fallen empire.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Release Date: October 10, 2006

"Say 'ello to my little friend."

Who can forget Tony Montana's defiant last words as he taunted his enemies during the dramatic shootout that concluded the 1983 movie, "Scarface?" Having lost everything of consequence and surrounded by gunmen hell-bent on killing him, his audacity in the face of hopeless odds never diminished. It was typical Tony. But what if the former Cuban exile-turned-All-American gangster survived the shootout? Could he rebuild his shattered empire and reputation and take revenge on his enemies? Thanks to Radical Entertainment's new open-world action game, Scarface: The World is Yours, you now have the chance to step into Tony's blood-spattered shoes and find out if the seedy underworld of 1980s Miami can become yours.

"You got good stuff here. Class A chit"

Scarface: The World is Yours is as grand and gutsy as its anti-hero, Tony Montana. Three years in development, the game features an original storyline written by famed scriptwriter David McKenna (Blow and American History X), an all-star cast of voice actors including original "Scarface" cast members and other prestigious actors such as James Woods and Michael York, a massive music library of 140 tracks, a vast and highly detailed environment to explore and 40-50 hours of gameplay. Al Pacino also lends his likeness to the game and hand-picked Andre Sogliuzzo for the voice of Tony Montana. The quality of effort behind the game is evident in the opening credit sequences, where the story of Tony's infamous rise from exile to cocaine kingpin is recounted from the original movie by Hollywood's Prologue Films. This montage not only looks good but also provides gamers who never saw the original movie with an insight into Tony's background and character.

"In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the woman."

As Tony Montana, you have three main objectives as you rebuild your empire. They are making money, getting power and getting women. Money is primarily made through drug deals, which range from small local transactions to multi-million dollar deals involving offshore suppliers. To acquire drugs, you first have to complete a small side-mission to gain the trust of the supplier. When this is completed, a supplier mission becomes available. Once the cocaine is acquired, it needs to be sold. This can be done by selling small quantities to dealers who are dotted throughout the city or by dropping it off to storefronts - "legitimate" businesses you buy that act as distribution points.

Selling to local street dealers is managed by a click-and-release method, similar to what you'd find in say, a golf game, where one click activates a meter and a second click stops it. The closer you get the meter to the top, the better the deal. With practice, you can become quite proficient at making good deals, but a lapse in concentration can result in the deal failing and your dealer attacking you. The same method of negotiation is used when trying to talk your way out of trouble with the police or rival gangs and when negotiating interest rates with banks where you launder your drug money.

Running supplies to your storefronts, however, makes the most money. In order to do this, you first need to acquire the storefront by approaching the owner and doing some dirty job for them like eliminating a local gang or chasing down a crooked business partner. When the mission is complete, the storefront becomes available for purchase. After buying the property, you can also insure your investment by installing video cameras and hiring henchmen to guard the business. These assets are useful in delaying attacks by rival gangs, which usually occur while you're on your drug run. They give you enough time to get to the storefront and personally sort out the attackers before it's completely trashed.

When you own all the storefronts in one of Miami's four "Turfs," you're able to conduct drug runs that have the potential to earn millions. Drug runs begin with buying a large quantity of cocaine, which is then stored at your local warehouse and racing this around to each of your storefronts in one of the cars or trucks you own. These drug runs can be very challenging, as not only are your storefronts under threat during the run, but if you are spotted by rival gangs, they'll try and run you off the road and kill you. If you die, you lose all of your drugs and any unlaundered cash and will have to restart the mission. I found that stopping a gang from destroying your storefront during a drug run could sometimes be counter-productive. While your intervention may save the premises from being temporarily shut down, gunning down gang members doesn't go unnoticed by the police. If they arrive on the scene, you have little chance of escape. Mind you, your final payout from your drug run is dependent on having as many storefronts open as possible, so there are strategic decisions to be made.

Combat, as to be expected, plays an important role in the game. With poor combat and targeting a major source of complaint in other open-world action games, the team at Radical sought to ensure Scarface: The World is Yours didn't suffer from the same fate. They've developed a "lock-on" targeting mode, which not only makes selecting targets easy but allows for more precise shooting, where specific body parts can be targeted. It's as easy as pointing your gun toward the enemy, pulling the left trigger on your controller to lock on to a target, and then blasting away with the right trigger. Selecting body parts to target, such as the kidneys or arms, is done by locking on to an enemy and moving the crosshairs around with the thumbstick. It's not easy, but the results are worth it.

There is a disadvantage to using this system, however, and that comes at the cost of "Balls." You see, as you play the game, you'll be building up "Balls" with every skilled shot, crazy driving maneuver, or taunt, which is reflected by a white circle surrounding the health meter. Using the lock-on method of targeting is not considered as "ballsy" as making the shot un-aided, and therefore you don't get the same reward.

When the "Balls" circle is complete, it allows Tony to enter into "Blind Rage," which puts you into a slow-motion first- person mode, makes Tony a temporarily invincible crack shot and rebuilds his health with every victim slain. It's designed to reflect Tony's terrible temper – and no doubt his drug-induced rage that made him momentarily immune to machine-gun fire at the end of the movie. The mode can be very useful in circumstances where the odds would otherwise be insurmountable. Tony also has the ability to hug walls and other areas for cover and to kneel down, although I found I would rarely use this in the heat of combat.

Combat is also possible from vehicles, and enemies can be attacked through a full 360-degree arc by using any of the guns in your inventory. Admittedly it's very difficult, if not impossible, to target an enemy while also driving through the streets of Miami at top speed. Often you will have your driver, who delivers the car to you, sitting in the passenger seat. He will take pot shots while you concentrate on driving, but he's unlikely to kill your pursuers outright. It's also worth bearing in mind when driving that cars come with different speed, maneuverability and armor ratings. Although any car on the street can be stolen and used, those you purchase have better ratings and are more suited for missions where speed or protection against attack is needed.

Getting money from drug sales, acquiring storefronts and eliminating local gangs all add to Tony's power or Reputation – a numerical value that increases to unlock items in the game such as new weapons and vehicles and additional areas for Tony to conquer. It also unlocks what's called Exotics, a catalogue of useful items like fast cars and boats and not-so-useful trinkets that reflect Tony's flamboyant character, such as a real spacesuit or Manny's ashes to decorate the mansion. Purchasing even these eccentric items can add to Tony's Reputation, so they have a useful, albeit small, role in the game. The Exotics catalogue also gives you access to various henchmen, including an assassin; an arms dealer; an enforcer; and a driver who, at the press of a button on your 1980s large-as-a-brick cell phone, will deliver any car, boat or float plane in your inventory to your location. All of these henchmen are playable, and you can switch to them at any time. They can do certain jobs for Tony, who, as a kingpin, may prefer not to do himself. They are also not bound by Tony's moral code – he can't target or kill innocent civilians in the game – and consequently are free to take whatever action is necessary to get a job done. These characters add a further dimension to the game and can be an interesting (and financially rewarding) diversion to Tony's drug-dealing operations.

As much as Tony loves power, he also loves women. From time to time, Tony will encounter exotic women, or "Femme Fatales," who he can sweet-talk into moving into his mansion. This is achieved by a rather skill-less button-mashing exercise, and when completed, the women march off and can be later found standing outside his office like trophies. Although collecting Femme Fatales adds to Tony's Reputation and perhaps is reflective of his character, they really add little value to gameplay.

"This is paradise, I'm tellin' ya."

The open-world of 1980s Miami is brilliantly recreated, and with plenty of cars on the road, pedestrians going about their daily routine and gangs roaming the back streets, the city is very much alive. The environment open to exploration isn't just limited to Miami, either. About halfway through the game, the option of traveling to fictitious islands in the Caribbean becomes available. Providing you have purchased a boat or float plane, Tony can travel to the islands and meet up with suppliers and other undesirables that will allow you to expand his empire and power. In addition to set missions, such as the standard "eliminate the local gang," there are other local missions that will test your combat and driving skills. There's even a floating casino run by gangsters, where bets can be placed on traditional gambling games as well as those you wouldn't find in a casino, like bare-knuckle boxing. These small touches are fun and addictive to play. It's just as well Tony has the potential to earn millions in drug deals, as you can very quickly blow thousands on gambling.

The islands are a major source of cocaine, which needs to be smuggled back to Tony's Miami warehouse before it can be distributed to storefronts. Smuggling is done by boat and requires Tony to dodge local water-borne criminals and Miami police. Purchasing a fast boat, or a heavily armed one, can be a good investment to ensure the Yayo is safely delivered. As the game progresses, the quantity of drugs that can be purchased increases, allowing Tony to make huge profits, providing it's safely delivered to the warehouse and storefronts.

"The world, chico, and everything in it."

Graphically, Scarface: The World is Yours, is not brilliant, but more than acceptable for a current-gen game. The world is continuously streamed and apart from set missions and moving between Miami and the Caribbean Islands, there are no load delays. Tony Montana looks and moves like his movie counterpart, but the limitations of older console technology is evident and certain features, like hands, look very blocky. Vehicle damage is modeled with visible damage, being accompanied in some instances by a drop in performance – the most noticeable being blown tires. Much of the peripheral environment, including signs and streetlights, are destructible and remain where they fell for some time. To add to the sense of a living world, there are environmental effects like rain and changes in lighting conditions as day turns to night. Some of these effects have an impact on gameplay. Rival gangs, for example, come and go depending on the time of day, making their elimination – an important part of controlling your turf – more challenging.

The game's audio is very good, with the entire production being re-mastered from the ground up by Skywalker Sound. The voice-over cast is impressive, and they deliver great performances that add depth, authenticity and humor to the experience. Music features significantly in the game, and the library of tracks encompasses popular period music from the 1980s, the original movie score by Georgio Moroder and modern tracks including hip-hop, reggaeton and rock. You can customize the music experience too, through an innovative "Mix Tape" feature that allows you to mix your own tape from the included tracks, although not from your imported collection.

The game's interface and controls are well thought-out, making finding your way around Tony's empire straightforward. The Empire Menu is the main menu that you'll access the most and features a scrollable and zoomable map of Miami and the Caribbean Islands. It highlights your turf ownership, the businesses you control, where rival gangs can be found and the location of local dealers and mission-specific objectives. I found identifying Tony on the map difficult at times until I discovered by accident a controller button that centers the map on him (this feature wasn't mentioned in the manual). It was the only criticism I had of the interface up to that point. Business opportunities, such as finding a supplier or undertaking one of the story's set-piece missions, are listed here as are Tony's henchmen, who can be selected to perform additional "dirty" jobs. Other menu options include calling your driver to deliver your car or boat, an arms locker and the Exotic catalogue.

"Make way for the bad guy."

Scarface: The World is Yours carries an ESRB rating of M 17+ – and for good reason. The concept of building an empire based on drug smuggling and dealing, as well as gratuitous violence, swearing that would make a Marine blush and collecting women like trophies makes it a game suitable only for a mature audience. These issues aside, Scarface: The World is Yours has a lot to offer. It's an enormous game that plunges the player deep into the dark and mesmerizing world of Tony Montana. Although it is formulaic at times and some of the set missions (such as protecting a boat with a helicopter gunship while it catches sharks for a restaurant) are a bit cheesy, the challenge of making more money, spending it and gaining greater power are as addictive as the white substance that makes its way up Tony's nose. If you're a fan of the movie, enjoy the open-world action genre and harbor a secret desire to exterminate a "cock-a-roach" or two with a chainsaw, then I would recommend scoring a copy of Scarface: The World is Yours from your local dealer.

Score 8.5/10

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