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Scarface: The World is Yours (PlayStation 2) artwork

Scarface: The World is Yours (PlayStation 2) review

"Adding difficulty is important to any game, but turning up the frustration factor too high with little payoff can cause anyone to burn out. With little variety, there's little to help cool the tension. You'll either tough out the frustration or spend your time on something more worthwhile. Either that, or you'll just play Scarface again and pretend it ends after you've secured the first half of Miami."

Your empire has fallen. No matter how many cockaroaches (sic) you'd scraped off the bottom of your million dollar shoe, the mad men kept coming until your mansion lay in ruins. Contrary to popular belief, you, Tony Montana, are not dead. Your little friend scared off the boogeymen and you made off with bumps and bruises, but now you're ready to take Miami back. Through selling nose candy, you can slowly rebuild your fortune. Rake in money and you can purchase new weapons and upgrades, new vehicles, skilled henchmen, and cosmetic alterations to your mansion. With each new purchase, you gain fame (read: experience) and level up.

All about Miami are key locations for committing random acts of villainy that help you secure more of the city. Ben Franklin aids you in obtaining innocent businesses like burger joints and pawn shops to act as fronts for your drug distribution. Drop more cash and you can upgrade these bases, decking them out with guards and cameras to warn you when gang members come stalking the grounds.

Unfortunately, your rivals aren't pleased with your budding business, and that leaves you one alternative: violent excommunication. Take a cruise through the back streets and alleys to discover gang dens so you can have an nice chat with these mixed up youths. This is where you slip into third-person shooter mode and empty clips into scores of hoodlums, all the while watching your Rage meter build. Let it loose and Mr. Montana will enter a first-person perspective with infinite bullets and health and many f-bombs dropped. Reduce the rabble to piles of bodies and your reward is money, drugs, weapons and a small piece of Miami in your possession.

Scarface: The World is Yours screenshot

This is all just icing on the cake, extra side stuff to complete while pulverizing your rivals' made men in story missions where your third-person shooter skills are put to the test. Each new mission thrusts you into another sticky situation surrounded by scores of gun-toting gangsters. You'll learn to make use of even the slightest piece of environment, from doorways to explosive barrels to staircases. With so many enemies firing at once, battling them all in the open is suicide. You have to learn to catch them unawares, when they're just coming through a doorway or down a staircase, and end the affair with a well-placed bullet.

Scarface's opening acts take you down such wild avenues that you'll salivate, wondering at what other choice bits this title can throw at you. Unfortunately it's after the second half that your salivary glands run dry. It's after you've explored more of Miami, after you've shot your ten-thousandth gang member, after you've gone through another long drawn drug deal that you begin to realize how thin Scarface is.

Later missions crank up the challenge factor by adding increased irritation to the mix. You'll fight the same foes and use the same strategies, only with more opponents pumping endless rounds into your body. Growing weary of the same nonsense stirs a fierce case of burnout, and Scarface may tempt you to rage quit for good.

No biggie, we'll just hit the sandbox and break the repetition with side activities and exploration. Sadly, you'll end your scouring of Miami for distractions with a heavy heart and a new outlook on your adventure. The 'open world' offers little extra beyond aforementioned gang extermination and frustrating street races. The land will tempt you with gorgeous scenery that looks explorable, but is purely cosmetic. Apart from gang dens, there's no reward for sightseeing.

Scarface: The World is Yours screenshot

You see a pattern forming in that everything you held dear about Scarface is turning sour. You hope that raking in green, Scarface's principal feature, doesn't go the same direction.

The main method for making fat stacks of cash is to sell drugs by doing menial tasks for big time drug dealers--usually delivering goods, protecting someone close to them, or taking out certain gang members. You'll eventually gain access to a dealer on a Caribbean island who will sell you a tremendous stock of coke which you can turn into a massive profit. All you have to do is fly out to the island, buy the stuff, avoid pirates while driving your boat back Miami, avoid the border patrol in Miami while delivering the drugs to your storage, distribute the junk, and pick up the profits while avoiding rival gang vehicles that smash your sweet ride to bits.

Once again, Scarface turns up the irritation. While snagging cash from your fronts, gangs will attack, plunder and destroy one of them at random. A counter appears on the screen at that moment, a grim warning that your front's remaining lifetime is short. Never is it the most convenient front, either. You'll always have to double back across town, trying to beat the clock while avoiding gang vehicles that smash into you incessantly and hoping not to rouse the authorities. Did I mention that almost anything, even bumping into citizen cars, can alarm the cops? Fail to rescue the front and you'll not only lose the profit, but have to spend money to fix the place and hire new henchmen. Don't think because you've saved one front in a money run that another won't be attacked. Nothing is more frustrating than having to save two, or dare I say three, fronts in one run.

Scarface: The World is Yours screenshot

All of this just to achieve an end that, to the sandbox genre, is a basic element. Making money shouldn't be a matter of completing a drawn out set of tasks while trying not to suffer a stroke from the mountain of frustration it causes. Bear in mind, you don't do this once or twice or even ten times. If you want to purchase all of the weapons, vehicles and decor you can, you need to do this repeatedly.

The developers at Vivendi Universal had their hearts in the right place. A Grand Theft Auto III rendition of Scarface was a novel idea. It wasn't the concept that turned sour, but expansion of it. Adding difficulty is important to any game, but turning up the frustration factor too high with little payoff can cause anyone to burn out. With little variety, there's little to help cool the tension. You'll either tough out the frustration or spend your time on something more worthwhile. Either that, or you'll just play Scarface again and pretend it ends after you've secured the first half of Miami.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Featured community review by JoeTheDestroyer (January 07, 2012)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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