Scarface The World is Yours - PS2 - Review
Brain DePalma’s vision of 1980s cocaine-fueled Miami and the rise and fall of a Cuban refugee turned American drug lord became something of a cult classic on the small screen (“Scarface” didn’t fair so well on the big screen when it was first released but was a sensation on the small screen when it was released on VHS and later on DVD). It was an epic tale - penned by the now-respected director Oliver Stone - that ended with the main character, Tony Montana, getting shot full of holes in the movie’s most memorable and bloodiest climax. Yet what if Tony didn’t die that night? What if Tony managed to shoot his way out of his mansion to hide and wait for a time to resurface and exact his revenge on Sosa - the Colombian drug lord that ordered his assassination? This is an interesting scenario that is introduced in Scarface: The World Is Yours for the PlayStation 2.
SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND
The World Is Yours begins in Tony’s mansion as it is being invaded by a large number of Sosa’s assassins. Tony taunts them, high and unafraid, as he takes his huge machine gun and starts what would have been his last stand. Yet you jump right into the shoes of this “political prisoner from Cuba” and turn the tables on your killers, dispatching them as you make your escape. Hiding in an old shack Tony is fueled by anger now and a need to regain all that he lost and to kill Sosa once and for all. “That’s Ok,” Tony says to himself, “I started with nothing and worked my way to the top and I can do it again.” The road to Sosa is not an easy one but nothing is ever easy in the criminal underworld and so begins a quest for revenge, drugs, money laundering and violence.
Interestingly enough, the game gives you to option to learn the game’s combat moves in the very beginning of the game as an introductory flashback. This tutorial creatively takes you back to 1976 Cuba when Tony Montana was a soldier. This, of course, prepares gamers for the opening battle in Tony’s mansion in Miami. The combat controls, for the most part, aren’t complex at all. The game’s targeting reticule is great at highlighting the nearest threat and you can always move the reticule to target a specific body part. Tony can easily pick up weapons dropped by the enemy and he even has a number of melee and counter attacks. He can crouch and press his back against a surface for cover but the heart of the combat comes in the form of the Balls Meter and the Rage mode (we will get to that in a moment, though).
RULE # 1: DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE OTHER GUY’S GREED
All of the familiar locales of Miami are welcome to you from the very beginning so since this is a Grand Theft Auto-styled game where you are free to roam wherever you like and do whatever you like you can take a leisurely drive down the famous Calle Ocho to check out the girls in bikinis or head to the trailer park to bet on a bloody fight. Tony can pretty much jack any car he encounters, although the police suddenly takes an interest in you and will try to track you down. You can move anywhere on the map without load times but Tony isn’t able to go on a massive pedestrian killing spree (this is a man who refused to kill a woman and her children or anyone that didn‘t have it coming, after all).
The real meat of the game is its various story missions. With an excellent script by “Blow” screenwriter David McKenna, the story takes Tony through a variety of situations that make for interesting missions. You will be tracking down Sosa associates like the Diaz Brothers gaining new turf and participating in on-foot missions as well as missions that require some driving skills. There are dozens of missions, making this a lengthy affair. Unfortunately, you will have to deal with some poorly conceived missions that feel dull compared to the more fun missions and just one or two that seem to drag on a little too long. Do we have to go head back down to talk to the bank teller again just to open your first bank account?
Where the game fails to provide the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City thrills of Rockstar‘s crime game, Scarface manages to make up for in innovative features. You’ll quickly come to have the Exotics Catalog that will allow you to purchase everything from garages and boathouses to henchmen that include female assassins, drivers, arms dealers and enforcers to aid you. There’s also the Balls Meter that, when filled, allows Tony to go into a blind rage during combat. Rage switches the game to a first-person perspective and for a few seconds you will become invincible and you’ll have unlimited ammo. This feature works wonderfully during tight spots in the game;
THE WORLD, CHICO, AND EVERYTHING IN IT
Much like GTA: San Andreas, certain areas in Miami are controlled by different gangs whether it’s the Diaz Brothers or other assortment of unsavory gangs. Tony can wander into gang-controlled sections in the map and pick a fight with a gang until he clears that areas’ leader. He can even purchase stores to use as fronts. Each store has its own side mission as well. For example, purchase the pawn shop and Tony has to make some illegal deliveries while being the owner of a drive-in theater Tony must get rid of the gang that uses the theater as a racetrack.
You’ll be driving in the game as well and, while you can stop to jack pretty much any vehicle, taking a vehicle by force only means the cops will be on to you if you don’t flee the scene quickly. Then again, Tony can always hire a driver he can call anytime on his cell phone. The game creatively allows the driver to deliver any of the vehicles Tony buys with the added bonus that the trunk contains extra ammo and weapons. The driving mechanics aren’t bad but then again they could have been a bit better.
On the visual side, Scarface doesn’t look as good as it could have when it comes to the environments. The real beauty is that the game wonderfully brings us Miami of the 80s. It also manages to cram in a great deal of Miami’s sights such as Calle Ocho and Coconut Grove. What the game does brilliantly is render Al Pacino perfectly. It’s actually strange controlling a character complete with all of the facial and body gestures Pacino brought to the character.
The real treat, however, comes in the game’s sound. Not only does Tony look like Al Pacino but the sound-alike does a great job of sounding like him as well. This is great news since the dialogue, especially when it comes to cool lines, is written excellently. Like the movie, though, the bad language is excessive. There’s even a great soundtrack that consists of everything from rock (Iggy Pop) to country (Johnny Cash) and even many of the movie’s tunes (a majority of which was heard in Grand Theft Auto III’s Flashback station). Even the sound effects are good but what will put a smile on your face are Tony’s poor attempts to pick up women.
Scarface: The World Is Yours takes you by the hand and drops you right into the world created by the classic gangster film that inspired this game and thus makes this one seriously enjoyable gaming experience. With a charismatic and unforgettable lead character and a lengthy and diverse number of missions, the game will hook you into its great story. While the game world isn’t as engrossing as it could have been, this Miami is still way better than the one in DRIV3R.
Review Scoring Details for Scarface: The World is Yours
Tony Montana is the type of man you don’t want to tick off and that goes double in the game since the man can shoot and talk trash at the same time. While the controls could have been a bit tighter, combat is still a fairly painless and Rage mode just makes gun battles fun. Driving could have been handled a bit better but it’s not bad. The majority of missions are actually quite fun with the exception of a few pointless and dull missions.
You’ll be glad to see that Tony looks amazingly like Al Pacino in every way and not just in the cutscenes either. The main characters in the game look good and you’ll encounter a few of the film’s familiar characters like Jerry the lawyer or Colombian drug lord Sosa. The backgrounds are quite dull despite the fact that you will recognize key areas.
The game’s sound is one of the game’s strongest features thanks to great voice acting (led by an amazing cast of actors from the likes of Michael York to James Woods) and a Pacino sound-alike who delivers his lines perfectly. There’s even a great assortment of tunes from the era with a diverse lineup of musical genres from Latin jazz to reggae and even country.
A number of missions will have you performing multiple tasks later in the game and they’re wonderfully challenging. The side missions add to the challenge but the real treat comes form the missions that have you storming enemy strongholds and going up against rival gangs.
The game does a great job of allowing gamers to jump into 1980s Miami during its most violent and drug-crazed days seen in the movie and put you in the shoes of a Tony Montana waging a personal war. The playing world might not immerse you into its universe as well as GTA: San Andreas but there are a lot of fun options like decorating your mansion, buying legitimate business fronts or assembling your crew of femme fatale assassins, drivers and even an enforcer.
Scarface for the PS2 has enough style and substance to stand out among the many GTA clones already available and is faithful to the source material that is rich in story and great characters. While the game does have a number of weak spots (one of them being the long and frequent load times), it is overshadowed by its over-the-top star and its many fun missions. If you loved the movie you will love the game.