January 03, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

Say hello to ”Scarface: The World Is Yours”

Creating the videogame adaptation of Brian De Palma’s gangster-film classic presented one major problem: how to get players interested in a story in which the main character dies at the end. Which is why the game’s developers hired screenwriter David McKenna (Blow, American History X) to concoct a somewhat preposterous scenario that has Tony Montana surviving the movie’s climactic shootout with Sosa’s henchmen and ultimately rebuilding his Miami empire, taking down his enemies, and — if he accumulates enough money — purchasing the urns containing the ashes of Manny and Gina. Seriously. So it’s back to the streets for Tony…

Fortunately, the gameplay rises above the storyline. And so what if Scarface‘s F-bomb-laden mix of open-world driving and shooting takes a page from Grand Theft Auto? Much of GTA‘s best elements are seemingly ”inspired” by the 1983 film. The game shines in its attention to details: The licensed music from bands like Blondie and AC/DC sets the right tone, and the game’s difficulty and pacing will appeal to both hardcore and casual players. Also notable is the ”Balls Meter,” an on-screen gauge that builds as Tony taunts various ”cockroaches” after taking them down. Once the meter tops off, he goes into an invincible first-person rage mode that replenishes his health. This is a game that almost giddily earns its M rating.

Still, there were a few problems as noticeable as Michelle Pfeiffer emerging from a glass elevator. (Just so you know ? she’s not in the game.) Some missions can quickly turn repetitive, while others (like those involving the boat) seem tacked on. And in a somewhat puzzling move, Scarface is only available for the Xbox and PS2 — which means that the graphics can look dated when compared to next-gen games like Saint’s Row.

To sum up, Scarface does more to refine than redefine the open-world-game genre. Still, fans of the film and Grand Theft Auto-style gameplay will want to say hello to this not-so-little game. B+

You May Like