LOS ANGELES--Vivendi's E3 demonstration of Scarface: The World Is Yours was packed with expletives, extreme violence, and a presenter who insisted on doing a Tony Montana impression throughout. Despite this, we enjoyed looking at the latest build of the game, which seems increasingly promising ahead of its September release on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC.
The game starts where the film ends, and it takes some creative licence by keeping Tony Montana alive after the shoot-out at his Miami mansion. He's still not in great shape, though, and after you escape you have to rebuild your empire from scratch. The aim of the game is to grab turf, do business, and negotiate drug deals on the way to settling the score with Sosa, the guy who destroys your empire.
The game's opening mission is taken directly from the end of the film, when Montana's mansion is being overrun by Sosa's assassins. After Tony steps onto the balcony and utters the famous "Say hello to my little friend" line, you're put in control of Montana as he takes out the attacking army. In the film, Tony Montana's cocky attitude was ultimately his undoing, but in the game you are rewarded for this confident behaviour. Skilled combat, stunt driving, and taunting your opponents will allow you to build up to a blind rage mode, which will make Tony invincible and hyper-focussed for a short period. In this mode, the game switches to a first-person perspective, where aiming is automatic and the current weapon is used to its maximum potential. Your health will also be increased, meaning that it's best to use it when you're in a tight situation or clinging to your last bit of health.
Scarface is played in a third-person perspective and uses an auto-targeting system. You can also lock onto enemies within your line of sight using the L1 button, and once you're locked on, you can aim for individual body zones with the right analogue stick. The game rewards you for shooting the enemies in the head, knee, or groin, and also for taunting enemies before you kill them. Taunting causes Tony to become temporarily vulnerable, but it will cause some enemies to cower, while others will taunt back. If they decide to do the latter, they will become more open for attack, and some enemies will even come out of cover if you send a cocky remark their way. The game includes crouch and wall-cover mechanics, so Tony will pop out to shoot at the enemy and remain defensively covered to reload.
Once you make it out of the mansion, the next stage of the game takes place in a vehicle. You have to get clear of the mansion and work on setting up operations in Little Havana. In the section we saw, you could walk into a record store and intereact with non-playable characters at will. The trouble is that Tony has no reputation in his new surroundings, so he has to pressure people into respecting him. If any characters give you trouble, an intimidation bar appears at the bottom of the screen, and if you can time the moving bar correctly, you can increase your respect and gain more points toward blind rage mode. If you fail to intimidate them, you will lose some of the points needed for blind rage mode. There are more than 300 non-playable characters in the game, and you can have conversations over four lines deep with all of them.
The owner of the record store (who is voiced by Tommy Lee) presents a business opportunity for Tony, and Tony can employ the owner and use him as a drug runner in the future. However, before you take him under your wing, he asks you to perform a favour for him, and this is where the missions start to come into the game. In order to turn the record store into a potential front, you need to retrieve certain tapes that are wanted by the FBI. If you work through these missions and earn enough money to buy the fronts, you can start to increase the drug supply through the channels, and if you own all the turfs on a front, you have to buy a storehouse for even larger profits.
The mission to find the tapes involves using a vehicle, and there are more than 100 within the game--each one tuned differently. If you drive in a stylish and intimidating manner, you will also earn points for your blind rage mode. Once you catch the guy with the tapes, a particularly violent cutscene takes place, where Tony shoots him in the kneecaps and beats him up on the floor in a torrent of abuse. Graphically, the game is impressive, with a look that mirrors Brian De Palma's stylistic movie. Roadside details occasionally pop in and out at random, which can damage the illusion, but from what we saw of the city, it looks like the sort of place we'd want to cruise around in.
Later on in the game, Tony has to team up with someone called The Sandman, and you will have to take out pirates who block your supply lines into Miami. Montana likes to spend money, and you can buy rear-projection TVs, furniture, and decorations, such as a space suit or a tiger, for your mansion. You can also order any car, boat, or other vehicle and have it delivered to your house. There are also basic skills that you will want to improve, which involves paying money to hire trainers, lawyers, and weapon manufacturers.
Movie tie-in games are certainly back in fashion, but with such a beloved film as the source material, The World Is Yours will have a difficult audience to please. The game certainly has the over-the-top style in place, and we'll have more on the game when it launches in September on the PS2, Xbox, and PC.