Summary: JCal continues his Al Pacino body take-over with a hands-on Scarface Preview. Will he have to suffer through Scent of a Woman next? Only time will tell.
That quote from Tony Montana neatly sums up not only the 1983 movie Scarface but the upcoming open world action game Scarface: The World is Yours. In development for three years at Vancouver based Radical Entertainment, the PC-PS2-Xbox title is getting ready to ship to stores next week and FiringSquad got a chance to travel to Radical’s studios to get a few hours to play the game itself at a recent press event.
The movie itself has become a cult classic and has been especially embraced by the hip-hop crowd and it’s easy to see why. Al Pacino’s over-the-top performance of displaced Cuban criminal Montana trying to build his Miami crime empire is one of the most well known and most imitated in modern movie history. The film itself, written by Oliver Stone and directed by Brian De Palma, is also exaggerated to the extreme with other larger than life characters, massive sets, violent set pieces and an overall sense that the movie takes place in an alternate world where you may be a criminal but you can look good doing it.
The game itself starts just before the movie ends, with Montana facing off against his final attackers at his mansion. Of course, Tony isn’t supposed to die in the game or it would be the shortest open world game in history. Instead you are supposed to shoot everyone you can, escape through a back door, circle around the mansion and make it to your car where your few remaining pals help you get out before the police arrive.
The opening of the game neatly demonstrates a couple of Scarface’s interesting gameplay feature. First up is the Balls Meter (yep, it’s called that), which you fill up by killing your opponents. Extra balls points are given if you shoot them in the right areas of the body. Head shots are instant kills and there are also special points for shooting people in other more sensitive parts of the body. You also get extra points via taunting opponents after you shoot them via pushing a simple button on the controller. Once your Balls Meter is full, you can activate Blind Rage, a brief period where the game switches to a first person perspective and you become invulnerable. Shoot your enemies and you also regenerate your health under Blind Rage. You can free look while shooting which gives you extra points on the Balls Meter, but if you want an easier time with it you can auto-lock your enemies to target them via a click on one of the triggers on your controller. Incidentally, we played both the PS2 and Xbox versions but not the PC version so we can’t comment on how the controls are handled for the PC port.
After those first two intro missions, the game really begins as Tony begins to rebuild his crime empire with small drug deals at first. Scarface’s massive open game world of Miami is broken up into several sections, each of which has to be claimed by Tony’s empire. In our demo we started by gaining reputation by simple missions like driving a van filled with drugs to drop off points in various locations. This increased our rep and money and allowed us to go to more missions. One of the interesting things about the game is the variability on how the missions might turn out. In a feature that’s similar to something that you might see in a golf video game, Tony has to convince drug dealers and others about his deals via a meter that you have to control. If you hit the sweet spot you can get the best money for drugs, the best interest rate for your money in the bank and get the heat off you if the cops show up to question you. If you successfully use the meter to intimidate others, it actually fills up your Balls Meter. Having that kind of variable gameplay makes Scarface a different experience every time.
As you build up your crime empire, you do have to deal with various elements in the game world. You have to clean out all of the gangs in your various districts you want to control, and you also have to keep both the money and the drugs coming while also keeping the cops off your tail. Later in the game, you get access to another section of the Scarface universe as you get drugs from an island headquarters. Once that happens you have to make sure your shipments of cocaine avoid being spotted by DEA agents. If you follow the game’s single player storyline it should take you about 40 hours or so to get to the end game: revenge on the person in the movie who brought your first crime empire to its knees, Sosa.
We quickly found while playing the game that the Scarface economic model was a lot to keep track of but people who enjoy that kind of deep gameplay will likely get a kick about managing your money. It’s not all about counting your dimes and nickels in Scarface. There are plenty of opportunities to shoot up your enemies and the cops. There’s no doubt that this game got its “M” rating for a reason, the F-word is used a lot and the shootouts become bloody really quickly. Indeed, if you can’t get away from the cops during a mission there will come a point where they will continue to come after you without stopping in a mode that’s titled something that we can’t describe here. However, you aren’t doing everything by yourself. Like any successful drug lord, Tony has helpers like a driver, an assassin and an enforcer that take care of certain missions that he wouldn’t do himself. In fact you can unlock side missions where you can control Tony’s minions yourself.
Visually, Scarface: The World is Yours is a current gen console title and the graphical features on the Xbox and PS2 certainly reflect that. The folks at Radical have done a solid job in bringing the 1980’s world to life in the game with a huge gameplay world to drive, fly, and even boat around in. There are also interiors that you enter in the game without load times It certainly looks better than the last GTA title and the in-game story cutscenes are especially well handled. People on the street can be talked with and even intiminated. While playing the game we made a 80 year old grandma cringe in fear while talking to her while on our way to a drug drop. While Al Pacino didn’t lend his voice to the game, his replacement in The World Is Yours, Andre Sogliuzzo, is very good and the game also has a massive voice cast of Hollywood actors (James Woods, Elliot Gould, Oliver Platt, Ricky Gervais among others) hip-hop stars (Ice-T, N.O.R.E., Cypress Hill’s B. Real and Sen Dog) and even some unusual choices like NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. As we said, the game has over 140 music tracks, ranging from 80’s classics to country to hip-hop, including several exclusive tracks. The “Mix Tape” feature also allows the player to mix-and-match among the selected tracks and it also has the movie’s original soundtrack to choose from as well.
As we said, Scarface: The World is Yours is definitely a “M” rated game for a reason; like the GTA series this one is not for the kids. In our first few hours of playing the game we discovered that this title is definitely not a clone of Rockstar’s seminal series but something that is trying to stretch the open world genre with new features. The game world is massive and getting to the end will definitely not be an easy or short road. Indeed we learned that if you decided to complete all of the side missions, get all of the bonus and essentially complete the full content of the game you get an extra reward that we won’t reveal here (let’s just say it involves Tony’s five “femme fatales”). Will the final game be as memorable as the 1983 movie? We will have a full review sometime next week. In the meantime the game heads to the PC, PS2 and Xbox (with a special PS2 edition with a second “making of” DVD) on October 8.
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