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Xbox Review: Scarface – The World is Yours

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Becoming the longest alternate ending in the history of the film, Scarface – The World is Yours starts at the end of the movie. As venerable Tony Montana, players break out of the drug lord's mansion instead of falling face first into a puddle of blood. Losing everything, Tony starts over from the bottom rung of the Miami drug scene, and it's up to the player to gain it all back.

This creates an interesting scenario for a movie based game. Besides rewriting film history and completely changing the point of the movie, Scarface has a lot riding on it to deliver as far as the story is concerned. Sadly, that's the one area the game misses out on entirely.

Scattered between countless drug runs, murder, escort missions and other various side missions is a story struggling to keep pace with the rest of the game. By the time the next plot point arises, you've forgotten the previous cinematic.

Thankfully, the game play is engrossing enough to keep things interesting through an extensive array of missions. An obligatory third person Grand Theft Auto knock-off, Scarface doesn't manipulate the formula enough to feel fresh. What it does is build on that same concept, and in the end, it's a better game for it.

At the heart of the game is targeting, a multi-tiered system that allows for locking on and manual firing. Keeping the cursor locked on allows for precise shots that can lead to a number of gruesome injuries. Decapitations are plentiful, and other appendages end up on the ground with a few pinpoint shots. Manually targeting can produce the same effects, though it's far more difficult.

To give a purpose to the manual targeting, doing so increases Tony's "Balls" meter. Yes, it means exactly what it says, and can also be filled by spewing vulgar taunts, risky driving or carrying on full conversations with civilians. When filled, Tony can enter a rage mode, making him a dead-on shot from a first person view and regaining life with each kill.

The system works nicely to keep the difficulty fair. It takes a second to activate the rage, and a life can be taken in that time. It's well balanced to make the player feel both powerful and challenging at the same time.

Not all of Tony's work is gunplay though. The game's concept is to rebuild Tony's empire, and this needs to be done the only way Montana knows how. Dealing crack is critical to earn cash and respect on the streets.

Money can be used to dress up the mansion (with items that can be moved anywhere in the house through a clunky interface), buy businesses to take over turf, or bribe cops and gangs to keep them off your back. The more turf and fancy items you have, the higher your respect and the quicker the story moves along.

The interface for buying is clean and simple enough to understand. Unfortunately, the on-screen map definitely needs some work, often confusing while failing to point out obvious short cuts. Driving through each area a few times is a better way to grasp the lay of the roads.

This is especially critical when trying to evade police. If you're within their sights when caught for a period of time, you'll have no means of escape and be killed. Cops are inconsistent, appearing in a matter of seconds during one battle with a gang and failing to show up at all during another.

Knowing when you're in trouble would be helpful since dying causes you to lose all cash currently on Tony. All cash must be deposited into a bank (which doubles as a save point) or you're at risk to lose it.

With such a focus on cash, Scarface meanders around in dull side missions that become grating in later hours. Dealing drugs, laundering money, bribing cops, and intimidating gangs are all performed through a weak interface that mimics classic golf games.

You simply press a button and time it correctly so you've filled it to the correct spot. These are the types of acts that need performed well over a hundred times each at minimum when playing through the full game.

That said, Scarface is saved by satisfying shooting mechanics and a sense of taking one of the truly great film characters under your wing. Watching the empire grow, local gangs cowering in fear and owning businesses is enough to carry this title to success. The World is Yours ends up being nothing more than Miami, but there's plenty to do and most importantly, it's entertaining even with the quirks.

Scarface – The World is Yours is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, and a record number of uses for a word starting with "f." This game can also be found on: PC, PS2, PSP, Mobile Phone.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.