SAN FRANCISCO--Please allow us to spoil a more than 20-year-old movie: Tony Montana dies at the end of Scarface. At least, he dies in the film. But in the upcoming video game rendition of Brian De Palma's cocaine-fueled 1983 crime classic, Montana is alive and well. Moreover, he's pissed that his family and his drug-smuggling empire have been taken from him, and it'll be up to you to help him climb back up from the lowest rung to reacquire his former greatness. We got a chance to see Scarface at Vivendi Universal Games' pre-E3 show, held two months before the actual show itself.
Scarface, the game, will actually start off during the climactic final scene of the film, in which Tony is holed up in his office with rival drug lord Sosa's agents amassing outside his door. You'll first get to play right when Tony grabs his grenade-launcher-equipped M-16 and lays waste to the invaders. Once that little bit of business is tidied up, you and Tony will hit the streets of Miami to start rebuilding the Montana reputation one step at a time. In fact, reputation will be the driving force behind the gameplay. As you complete certain story-based missions, build your fortune, and purchase property, your quantifiable reputation will increase, opening up new areas and allowing you to further tighten your grip on Miami's underworld.
The designers at Radical want to capture the personality of Tony Montana in every facet of the game. To that end, a taunt mechanic has been devised that you can use in shoot-outs to draw enemies out of hiding. One press of the taunt button will cause Tony to hurl a variety of choice epithets, and enemies will step out to fire at you, giving you the chance to take them down. If you're already engaged in a shoot-out, taunting an enemy will often cause them to stop for a moment in consternation and then they will try to yell something back. That's your cue to shoot them.
You'll have access to a smart bomb feature that you'll be able to use as your rage builds up during combat. Tony Montana isn't known as the most levelheaded character in cinema history, and that reputation comes to the fore when you've built up enough anger to unleash a blind fury attack on nearby enemies. When you use this ability, Tony will go crazy with rage and auto-target every enemy in the area, taking them all down with vicious aplomb.
Taking a cue from Tony's (paraphrased) line that he never screwed anyone over that didn't have it coming to them, the designers have attempted to imbue the gameplay with some semblance of a moral compass. If you draw your weapons in a public place, innocent bystanders will cower and run in fear, while legitimate enemies will draw their own guns and get ready to fight. You won't be able to gun down just anyone; if you try to shoot an innocent person, Tony will vocally reconsider and lower his weapons.
Scarface unfortunately wasn't playable at VU's GDC showcase, but we did get to see a new trailer for the game that showed off a few short snippets of gameplay in which Tony (decked out in a traditional Hawaiian shirt) shot and drove his way through the crime-addled streets of Miami. The game appeared fairly Grand Theft Auto-esque in many of these sequences, though the character of Montana himself was easily recognized. We're curious to see how the elements of the game come together to evoke the feeling of the classic film, especially once the voice cast is announced in the coming weeks. Scarface is due for release in the fall of this year, and we'll bring you more on the game as it happens.