Scarface: The World Is Yours

First came "Godfather," then "Jaws," and now "Scarface," an epic tale of guns, money, and a twisted quest for the American dream. Sierra Games' "Scarface: The World Is Yours" is all about the surface appeal of guns and money. It shows that when you strip "Scarface" of its heart and soul, you end up with... well, "Grand Theft Auto."

2006 has turned out to be quite the year for vidgame adaptations of classic ’70s and early ’80s films. First came “Godfather,” then “Jaws,” and now “Scarface,” an epic tale of guns, money, and a twisted quest for the American dream. Sierra Games’ “Scarface: The World Is Yours” is all about the surface appeal of guns and money. It shows that when you strip “Scarface” of its heart and soul, you end up with… well, “Grand Theft Auto.”

Vidgame starts off with Tony Montana surviving the shootout at the end of the film. This fundamentally changes the nature and meaning of Brian DePalma’s film, of course, but immediately demonstrates what the videogame is all about. It’s influenced more by hip-hop’s embrace of the movie than the movie itself.

This embrace has turned many young men in the core gamer demo onto the 1983 film, recently reissued on DVD in a nifty bit of cross promotion between Universal and Sierra Games, owned by Vivendi Games.

Marketing-wise, the pic’s demo appeal makes a vidgame adaptation a no-brainer, but the result is so transparently crass that those who have any appreciation for the movie may want to wash their hands after playing. “Scarface: The World Is Yours” is so focused on Tony Montana’s bling-bling lifestyle and his penchant for calling everyone and everything a series of unprintable insultat that it doesn’t have even a hint of depth to it. (Something that, the snobbery of many critics aside, the best vidgames have in spades.)

As “GTA” clones go, though, this is certainly a good one — an irony given that many have pointed out how heavily “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” draws on “Scarface.”

Storyline, in which Tony tries to rebuild his drug empire, is a solid excuse for gamers to race around the city on missions earning money, setting up fronts, and eliminating enemies — all the basic elements of “GTA” and its many rip-offs.

The 1980s Miami setting has a distinct feel influenced by the film that rises above the generic inner city milieu of many games. Controls are well designed, missions are challenging, if often repetitive, and there’s a fun option that lets Tony build up his “balls” by taunting enemies as he riddles them with bullets. A full “balls” meter lets players go on an invincible rampage. (Joe Lieberman would probably not be a fan.)

Game was not released on next-gen platforms and as a result the graphics are adequate, but not impressive. Sierra recruited a name voice cast including Robert Loggia, Ice-T and Tommy Chong to mixed results. Some do excellent work but others, like James Woods, are so recognizable that it takes players out of the game world. Andre Sogliuzzu, the voice of Tony, channels Pacino almost perfectly.

“Scarface” rises above the almost unplayable “Jaws Unleashed,” but doesn’t quite match EA’s “Godfather: The Game.” The “Godfather” adaptation was flawed, but at least it attempted to capture the tragic, operatic elements of the film. “Scarface: The World Is Yours” draws more on the rapper named Scarface than the movie.

Scarface: The World Is Yours

Production: A Sierra Entertainment presentation of a game developed by Radical Entertainment for PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Rated M. Reviewed on PlayStation 2.

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