(Vivendi for PS2)
by Mike Delano
There are 101 reasons this shouldn’t work. The Sopranos game, The Godfather game, Mafia, 50 Cent: Bulletproof: Every time a marketing team with dollar signs in their eyes rather than hungry, motivated game developers get their hands on a franchise, the end result is, at best, a mediocre effort with through-the-roof production values. At worst, it’s a thoroughly broken game that makes it to shelves solely on the strength of its source material.
From the beginning, Scarface: The World Is Yours aspires to be more. The game spins off of the final scene in the film: Drug lord Tony Montana is in the middle of a standoff with heavily-armed rivals at his Miami mansion. But instead of getting gunned down in a blaze of glory, the opening scene of the game allows Tony to escape the firefight, and while he gives up his empire in the process, he lives to start a new one.
Your mission is to reclaim your Miami territory, piece by piece, recruiting allies and wiping out your enemies. You’ll do it all in a mission-based, open-world fashion very reminiscent of the Grand Theft Auto series, but unlike the hordes of other GTA clones, this game has an excuse. More than any other source, the over-the-top buffoonery posing as gritty realism of Scarface gave birth to the whole GTA attitude. If any franchise is entitled to borrow (liberally) from GTA, it’s this one.
Thankfully, it borrows with style. Combat consists of an easy targeting system that allows you to build up your “Balls” meter by shooting enemies in the junk or other specific areas. Once your balls meter is full, you can choose to go into “Blind Rage” mode, rendering everything a red, genocidal blur. Taunting your enemies while they’re bleeding or dead also builds your balls meter.
Between action sequences, you’ll carry on conversations to spread your name around and rebuild your ranks. Sample conversation:
Tony (to a woman at a club): “Just shut the fuck up and dance. I want to see those ham hocks bounce.”
Woman: “You’re making me so wet.”
The gameplay itself isn’t too challenging or memorable; there’s no reason to revisit any of the combat or driving scenarios once you’ve finished the game. Like GTA, the pleasure is in the first-time experience, and the gameplay is just good enough to make you delay finishing the game for as long as possible by picking up the various side missions or just cruising around, starting random skirmishes, destroying property, and carrying on ridiculous conversations for the amusement of your friends.
As is evidenced by ubiquitous t-shirts, the poster on every rapper in America’s wall, and the DVD collection of every aspiring alpha male nationwide, Scarface‘s vice grip on pop culture is stronger than ever. Given that installed base, even a crappy game would’ve likely made it into the hands of millions of gamers, but The World is Yours does the Scarface name proud and ranks among the most entertaining of the last wave of PS2 games.