Review: Scarface iOS is not very Scarface at all
When I think of Tony Montana and Scarface, I think of a self-made man, king of society’s underbelly, born in blood. The console release was a surprisingly fantastic action game that made a few allowances with the story to deliver a great experience in the vein of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It wasn’t exactly universally praised, but it earned some respect from the community, and I personally enjoyed it quite a bit.
When I realized that Scarface for iOS was little more than a re-skinned tablet version of FarmVille, you can imagine that I was a little bit disappointed. The graphics are dated, the gameplay is exactly like it’s Facebook progenitor, and everything about it that could make it in any way unique falls totally flat. Really all the game is is a checklist of things to click on, Scarface movie sound effects, and broken online components.
The point of the game is to build up your personal empire by spending money and building structures which in turn make you more money. There’s also a few very similar looking sections of Miami where you can go to do jobs, which basically means just clicking around with your fingers and listening to the same five Al Pacino quotes over and over until you make enough money to build the next thing or run out of effort points, which enable you to do the jobs. When you run out of effort points, you can either buy more with real money, which the game tries really hard to get you to do at all times, or you can wait, a la FarmVille. As far as having actual skill-based gameplay, this game falls way short. I refused to spend any of my own money, and so really, most of my experience with this game consisted of me waiting around until I could touch stuff for five minutes again. I understand that this game is for a casual crowd who maybe just wants to check in on their little crime empire every time they use the bathroom, but there’s plenty of more engaging alternatives out there, even some that much more skillfully deliver the brutal but stylish action that I expected from a game called Scarface, not just a generic Facebook game that I can take on the bus.
The graphics and audio are also severely lacking. The models for the streets and buildings are fairly detailed, but the horrible interface, the chunky menus, and the absolutely lackluster sprites make the overall aesthetic feel much more like 2002 than 2012. They also re-use the same six or seven building and people models over and over, and it gets real old real fast. The soundtrack is a bizarre collection of off-putting and far too funky electronic ambience that sounds more like the intro music to a Double-Dragon knockoff than anything you’d find in Havana-flavored Miami Beach, especially in the early eighties, and I know I’ve mentioned it twice already, but other than the logo, the only really Scarface-y thing about the game is that it plays one of a very small selection of movie quotes whenever you “achieve” something, but they’re way too loud, almost to the point of being distorted, and there’s so few that they can never quite be as precisely appropriate to the specific thing you’re doing as you’d like.
Finally, the multiplayer aspect of the game allows you to steal from and attack other players, and harm or add to their prospective empires, but one, since it’s just touching the screen and waiting to see what happens, it never really feels any different than doing anything else in the game, and two, it works maybe one in five times where you are actually able to successfully connect, interact with, and successfully challenge someone else without either the attempt failing or the game crashing.
Bottom line, did the developer achieve what they set out to with this game? Yeah, probably. It’s really just a badass makeover for the classic Zynga-esque social gaming model with a few technical hiccups, but if you’re one of those people who loves Scarface or really anything at all about any stylized crime movie there’s ever been and you’re expecting anything similar to that experience at all, look elsewhere. This one’s a real stinker.