Review: Scarface: The World is Yours Games | My Reviews 03 FEB 2008

ScarfaceAlmost everyone knows of the 1983 iconic gangster movie Scarface, starring a young Al Pacino as Tony Montana – the ruthless cocaine gang lord in Miami who eventually gets his comeuppance after he starts getting a little too eager in sampling his product all the time.

But what if Tony hadn’t died at the end of the movie? What would have happened next? Well that is exactly the scenario that Sierra’ and Radical Entertainment’s Scarface: The World is Yours tackles and we end up with a huge and enjoyable sandbox world experience ala Grand Theft Auto style.

Basically the story is broken up into four major sections which sees you takeover four different sections in Miami and after each area is controlled, you get to take on a couple of missions en route to the final boss confrontation for that area. Of course the bosses are all pretty much the snakes from the movie and the story arc is pretty much one of revenge and reclamation of Tony’s lost empire.

Like I said, Scarface is a sandbox genre game meaning you literally have the whole of Miami to play in. Each territory has three or more fronts which you need to take over by completing their attached mission and once those are done you then proceed in taking down the area’s warehouse distribution point. Obviously the warehouse missions are the hardest territorial missions to complete, but once you have completed one then you become the owner of that territory and advance the game. Once you have taken an area under your wing, you then take on a string of missions that usually results in the taking down of one of your revenge targets – one of the rival Miami gang lords.

To succeed in your missions you need money, respect and weapons. The number one way of getting your hands on this is through dealing in cocaine, pretty much your staple income. The way this is done is by following leads (missions) that will eventually lead you to suppliers of various sizes (they get larger as you progress through the game). Once you have bought the necessary coke from the suppliers you can then sell it to the various coke street dealers that inhabit Miama and when you start getting the bigger loads in, distribute them via your fronts.

At the same time there are a lot of hostile gangs and soldiers running around the territories and you will need to root them out with force – and of course in an as bloody as possible manner possible.

As with any sandbox title you have freedom in steal which ever car you want and shooting just about anyone you want (interestingly enough, that isn’t quite true – you can in fact only shoot other gangsters. Try pointing at innocents and Tony mutters something about innocent blood). Of course, any criminal activity and the police start noticing and before long you may very well be running for you life to try and escape them.

There are basically two gauges you want to keep your eye on, namely the Cop and Gang heat gauges which report the level of trouble you’ve stirred up with either of the two factions. If the level rises to high then there is basically a penalty to pay. Of course you can keep these levels down through good old bribes or just completing successful drug trades.

What elevates Scarface above GTA though is its impressive targeting system which makes the gun battles far more rewarding to do – which is a good thing because gun battles certainly make up the largest portion of the game play. Of course Tony has a variety of upgradeable weapons to choose from, though the Chainsaw is certainly one of the bloodiest of the lot.

Of course, most of Tony’s money that he makes comes in the form of ‘dirty cash’ which he then has to launder at a bank which also acts as a save point. Of course, this isn’t just an easy thing of going up to the counter and pressing a button. Instead you are presented with a circular dial (similar to the ones used in golf games to control the swing) which you need to fill up to the required level without going bust. Each of the levels represent a different percentage cut the bank takes from you and although an interesting mechanic in the beginning, the meter quickly becomes tiring and frustrating as more and more of the game becomes staked on it.

Tony also has a Balls meter to keep an eye on, a meter which basically can be filled up by doing some crazy driving and swearing like crazy after you kill someone (in fact, Tony even has a dedicated swearing/taunt button). When your balls meter fills up you get to go into …Blind Rage’ mode in which time basically slows down and you gain health for killing your opponents.

There are a lot of smaller mini-games also stuffed into the game and in fact, because this game has just such an immense scale to it, means that it is guaranteed to keep you busy for a long, long time. You can pilot all manner of cars and boats, partake in an almost endless number of different side missions and stumble across almost 200 unique conversations and interactions.

In terms of graphics, Scarface doesn’t really stand out as anything special, mainly because as a sandbox game it suffers the same problem that plagues all games in the genre – there is just simply too much stuff to show on screen to allow for overly pretty graphics. Nevertheless, the character models are all pretty distinguishable and you will recognise the movie characters instantaneously, even if they don’t look all that detailed. Also, the inability to draw circles neatly is also glaringly apparent in Scarface as well, and this detracts a lot from the look of the game. Nevertheless, for a sandbox title it isn’t all that bad and is certainly passable on the graphics front.

On the audio side of things Scarface really falls apart a little by virtue of the fact that its soundtrack is so wide and varied that it really just doesn’t pull well together. There is a lot of cheesy 80s music stuffed in there of course, but a lot of the music doesn’t really gel well with Scarface’s era setting and a tighter soundtrack would have done the game wonders.

In terms of the voices used throughout the game, special mention must be made of the guy who voices Tony Montana. He does a great impersonation of Al Pacino and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if you thought you were getting the real deal. The rest of the voices work pretty well throughout the game as well and there isn’t anything that comes across as downright amateurish at all.

This is a mature game with a lot of swearing and mature themes, and basically Scarface ends up doing exactly what GTA did before it, only coming across as far more realistic and less cartoonish than GTA ever did. Having a well back-story to lean on is certainly another plus and in the end it turns out to be a more than competent game that is well scripted and will easily suck up those hours while still remaining quite a satisfying and rewarding experience – even if its variable difficulty sometimes frustrates the hell out of you!

Scarface is a great addition to the sandbox genre and fans of this open world style of gameplay are guaranteed to get a kick out of it.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.