Scarface: The World Is Yours
On Paper At least, Scarface lends itself better to a digital makeover than I the Godfather. Brian De Palma's movie was riddled with guns, drugs, fast cars and '80s music, along with the kind of dialogue that inspired a generation of gangsta rappers. And wouldn't you know it, so was GTA: Vice City. Coincidence? We think not. Even 20 years on, the film is still hot property.
"We've got a big team at Radical, made up of a bunch of different people from different studios," explains Cam Weber, producer on Scarface. "Some were on The Simpsons titles, some on 007: Agent Under Fire and a couple were over at Dynamix doing Tribes 2. We were working on an original property but in the end VU liked the technology we'd built and so hired us to do Scarface." Fortunately, Radical has one immediate
advantage over EA: it's making a sequel. You read that right, it's a sequel. One in which Tony Montana is alive, and not at all stone-cold dead in a posh paddling pool. Not even a tiny bit. VU and Radical have taken the script and ripped out the last page. In the film, Tony Montana was first sprayed with semiautomatic gunfire, blasted in the spine with a pump-action shotgun before finally falling 20ft into a concrete fountain with little bits of cocaine dribbling out of his nostrils... The game is quite a bit different. Another thing Scarface: TWIY has that The Godfather conspicuously doesn't is Pacino himself. Admittedly, he doesn't say Tony Montana's lines, but he apparently did pick out his own soundalike from a gaggle of 70 Tony-impersonators.
"Pacino approved a lot of things," recalls Weber. "His digital likeness, the choice of actor to play him. We've got 30,000 lines of dialogue in the game - that's 10-15 days of solid studio work just for Tony's character. It simply didn't make sense to have Pacino doing it. But we've got new dialogue from Robert Loggia (Frank Lopez in the movie, now the game's narrator), and Stephen Bauer (Tony's compadre, Manny), as well as new characters played by Janies Woods, Michael York and Cheech & Chong."
But surely what Coppola said about games trivialising their subject applies equally well to this game - what, for ice, of the movie's underlying anti-drugs message? Remember that Tony's sister gets riddled with bullets because his nose is buried in a pile of coke so big he can't see the approaching gunman. It may not be a subtle message, yet Weber acknowledges that little of it will make it to his finished game.
"While cocaine is everywhere, it's not a gameplay feature and the anti-drug message isn't a main theme. We do keep a lot of the themes from the movie going though, such as Tony's sense of family and his moral code. He's not a generic thug, so you can't just mow down a bunch of pedestrians - Tony won't let you do that. We had to work around things like that to satisfy the licence owners..."
It's a nice try, but we've seen in-game morality before and it's usually the least important of the RPG stats. Radical will be counting on its acting talent and a script by David McKenna (writer of Blow) to influence the mood. This won't appease the nay-sayers with its reformulation of the film's tragic denouement. In this respect, The Godfather almost certainly has the edge. But what does Oliver Stone, famously opinionated writer of the original Scarface make of it?
"Stone chose not to be involved...'' concludes Weber with barely concealed relief. "He was offered involvement and he turned it down. We're fine with that, really..."
Download Scarface: The World Is Yours
Over 20 Years on, Scarface is still hot property, and considering the film's abundance of guns, girls and creative swearing, it's no surprise that the rights were snapped up for a gaming reprisal. With Al Pacino himself having backed the project, things are looking good for The World Is Yours, but can the game do what The Godfather obviously couldn't, and live up to one of the most iconic films of all time? Recent play impressions left us hopeful. Last seen floating face-down in a posh fountain, and now alive thanks to the liberal tearing-up of the script's final page, Radical have done an excellent job of perfecting Pacino's virtual guise. Everything right down to his ice cream-obsessed one-liners and even his mannerisms when he speaks are spot-on, and Montana's voice is equally well done - if unlikely to make your gran warm to him.
The team at Radical haven't spent the entire time studying Al Pacino's eyebrow movements though - they've also conjured up some genuine improvements over the standard GTA formula.
One particular issue they had with Grand Theft Auto is the large amount of fetching in the game, which sometimes has you skipping across town just to get a pistol from behind a dumpster. In Scarface, some quick side-menu magic has Tony flick out his cell-phone and call his driver, who quickly rolls up the street with your car of choice, loaded full of pump-action goodies thanks to your equally-useful arms dealer. This is just one example of how Radical is bringing the world to the player.
The Drugs Do Work
Arguably the most crucial element of GTA's success has been the series' intricate and believable game worlds, and Scarface thus follows suit with its own massive rendition of Miami. Across the city's four conquerable turfs, one of the most interesting locales is the harbour, where you can hitch a boat and cast-off for some island-to-island drug smuggling action. This kind of gameplay features more as you progress in the game; in latter stages an empire-management screen gives you access to all kinds of details and stats on your business fronts, including the option to fortify them against enemy attacks with security cameras and hired goons. This latter half of the game certainly looks more in-depth than previously expected, and builds on the turf-war concept that San Andreas first mooted, yet failed to capitalise on.
Building further on the drugtrafficking gameplay, there are also sections where you're tasked with making drug deals yourself. When initiating a deal, you're presented with a bizarre pie-chart mini-game thing. Bugger it up and you'll end up in a drug-dealer gun-fight; get it right and the white stuff is yours. It's just like real life, only with more pie charts. The work doesn't end there either you've also got to launder your 'dirty' money throughout the game to shake off cops, and rival gangs are never far away. In the near-final version of the game, these all seem like genuinely interesting and fun mechanics necessarily entrenched in a rather consoley way, but whether or not they'll be enough to snatch' GTA's throne remains to be seen.
To Say Scarface is reprehensible is an understatement. It's the worst fears of Daily Mail readers condensed into a nugget of abhorrence that's black as night, dense as lead and very rude indeed. It's a crime against cinema too, dancing merrily and shouting f***' repeatedly u|X)ii the good name that is Scat face -taking a landmark piece of film history and changing its ending, message and morals while taking a gigantic shit on any trace of emotion it once engendered.
It's also not a PC game - it's a console game that's practically (and 1 say practically' when I mean 'completely') impossible to play with mouse and keyboard. The people who did conversion are sucfi monunx'iital idiots that on the save-screen, they have the gall to say, Now saving. Please don't turn off your PC' as a console hangover. Even my mother knows how to turn a PC off, and let's face it - any game that thinks a PC audience is liable to randomly jab at the power button is far away from home. Scarface is yet another console intruder into our precious land, and in many ways can only be seen as the very firmament of noxious evil. Indeed, if you've ever suffered from depression or have felt yourself liable to self-liarm, it woukl the wise to avoid playing the first three-quarters of an hour of Scat face, unless a masked man is holding a gun to your head and reciting biblical text. You'll honestly hate it that much.
In other news however, once you're released into the free-roaming meat and two 'Tony f***in Montana!' veg of the game, you suddenly realise that there's some actual intelligence behind its sheer, horrible gratuitousness. Yes, I know.. It surprised me too. Scat face may blankly remove the humour and knowing intelligence of the GTA games it apes (making it seem nothing but pubescent, angry and embarrassing), but it also genuinely brings some real improvements to its crime-business template. Boggles the mind, doesn't it?
Whereas in GTA, your varied tasks have always felt rather disparate and unconnected, the reconstruction of Tony Montana's fallen empire provides a real sense of ownership and expansion. Your bank account won t necessarily be continually sky-rocketing, and you really do feel like you're running some kind of business. To take over an area, you have to find local gangs and rout them out. violently aid local businesses and buy them out as fronts for coke distribution and then kick-start the pricey powder's distribution.
With the money you earn, you can then start hiring henchmen (some of whom you can play as if different talents are required), pimping' your lush mansion with tasteless paraphci nalia and filling your virtual forecourt with fast cars and boats that can be delivered to you wherever you are on the map with an expletive-ridden phonecall to your hired help.
The goons who simply appear in token places in CTA games have suddenly taken on an Evil Genius-lite system of micromanagement - and everything honestly feels as if youre the heart of an expanding empire. Little things like laundering money and saving your game at the lunk - rendering it safe from harm through death or arrest - are yet another way that Radical have cleverly integrated the game world and the game itself, with touches like negotiating the bank's take from the money through a simple mini-game really adding something to proceedings.
Also, Scarface manages to make crimes feel like crimes. There's only a limited amount of time before you're irretrievably screwed when you're doing misdeeds and the police are hot on your tail - how much time depending on the extent of your crimes and how much you've paid off the cops recently.
Because of the annoyance of the cheery You're f***ed!' screen, you get a brilliant feeling of should I stay or should I go?' whenever the fuzz turn up at a crimescene, not least because the penalty for being caught is having all the money and coke you have on you confiscated. The way to lose heat is quite clever too; a purple circle appears on your map around the scene of your crime which you have to get out of, while also getting out of range of trailing police cars that have similar, yet smaller, circles of detection around them.
Scarface then: an engaging abomination aimed at gutter gamers, yet sprinkled with an undeniable few keys of pizzazz. But do you honestly want to play a game that lists the vital organs you pierce with bullets? Left kidney, right kidney, left nut, right nut etc. Do you really want to play something with a Balls-meter?
The Godfather was a far inferior game, but at least when you played it you felt you were in the company of a grown-up. Despite design cleverness and an engaging cityscape, there's just no joy here - the simple pleasure of GTA's breathlessly innovative missions or the daft fun of Just Cause is nowhere to be seen. I'll admit that deep down, Scarface isnt entirely the teenage abomination it first appears to be, but I'd also be a little disappointed in anyone who actually went out and bought it.
Get them while they're hot!
The thing about Scarface is that whereas its rivals have their titillation clad in irony (Just Cause's volcanic whorehouse and GTA's sheer GW-ness), you wouldn't be surprised if alongside Tonys 'taunt/swear' function there was a key-press that unzipped his flies and waved his bits around. Alongside countless amputations, decapitations, bullets to the kidney and Balls-meters that result in crap first-person killathons and swearing beyond your gran blushing, there's even a way of meeting sexy ladies on your travels. You can chat them up and have them strut around your den saying sexy things as if they were your real girlfriend! Maybe you can do sexy things with them at night! Every single night!
Tony Montana Is Not A F***ING BITCH! screams Executive Producer Peter Wanat into the phone. He takes on the attitude (and volume) of his open-world game's coked-up gangster antihero, so much so that the only way to print his speech is in all caps. It's a little over the top, but The World is Yours the interactive follow-up to the film that broke the record for dropping F-bombs is just that. In the words of Wanat.
The Game Is About The Total F***ING EXCESSES OF TONY MONTANA! Tony's biggest excess is, apparently, in his pants. We've all seen power meters, life meters, ammo, magic, and golf swing meters, but here's the only game to include a balls meter. You get balls for doing anything Tony would do. You Wanna Go For Six Consecutive Headshots? We'll Reward You With Balls! Shouts Wanat. You Wanna Pop Someone In The Left Nut And The Right Nut? We'll Give You Even More Balls! Yes, in case you're wondering, the game features testicle-specific targeting.
So, what happens when your balls meter fills up? In short, you're primed for a massacre. Maxing out your cojones will switch the perspective from third- to first-person and make you invincible. Or, as Wanat says, It's Eight To 10 Seconds Of A Total F***ING CRACK COCAINE HIGH!