Scarface: The World Is Yours Review

There's nothing else quite like Scarface on the Wii yet, but the gamepad-to-Wii Remote transition has made this lackluster game play even worse.

Scarface: The World Is Yours was a shoddy Grand Theft Auto-style game that was released on the PlayStation 2, PC, and Xbox last year. Now, for whatever reason, Vivendi has decided to bring the game to the Wii. On the surface that's not a bad idea, because there's nothing else like it currently available on Nintendo's platform. But adapting a game with a ton of different controls for a controller that wasn't built for this sort of action makes an already-lackluster game a little worse.

In this scene, Virtual Al Pacino fires his agent for getting him into this polygonal mess in the first place.
In this scene, Virtual Al Pacino fires his agent for getting him into this polygonal mess in the first place.

The World Is Yours is based on the movie Scarface, but rather than duplicate the events of the movie or make some kind of prequel, the developers decided to make a sequel. The only problem is that Tony Montana, the movie's lead character, dies at the end in a blaze of cocaine-fueled rage and gunfire. So in order for the game to occur, they've gone back and rewritten the movie so that Al Pacino's Cuban coke lord gets away at the end, but loses his entire drug empire, his mansion, and yes, even his tiger. Resetting his net worth back to zero and giving you a reason to get revenge sets the game in motion. You need to rebuild your drug empire and exact your revenge on the guys who caused your downfall, one neighborhood at a time.

Rewriting the ending to a movie just to justify a sequel is a tough pill to swallow, especially when you're dealing with an ending as memorable as the one in Scarface. It's likely that some fans of the film will never be able to get over that hump and despise the game for existing in the first place. But if you can deal with the concept--you'll take control of Montana shortly after the "Say hello to my little friend" line and orchestrate his getaway yourself--you'll find a foul-mouthed, bloody adventure that does next to nothing with the characters. In the film, you saw Tony Montana grow from a simple refugee to the king of the coke world. In the game, the shock of losing his empire causes Tony to clean up his act and get off the yayo so he can start dealing again. Then you basically kill everyone who wronged you, all while talking about the need to have balls. The whole experience feels flat and often self-conscious. It's as if the creators of the game watched the movie, picked out a few common words that Tony Montana would say ("cock-a-roach," "balls," "f***," "chico," and "coño"), and then set about writing dialogue that uses those words as often as possible.

It might not feel terribly true to the spirit of the film, but as a game, Scarface is functional. You're given the open city of Miami to drive around right off the bat, though you'll be doing business in only one part of the city at a time. You start in Little Havana, and your goal is to take back that part of town so you can deal cocaine unabated by the other dealers that have risen during your three-month absence. You take back the streets by going to war with gangs that have taken up residence in various parts of the neighborhood. These gangs are denoted by a skull on your map, and your task here is to roll up to the thugs, open fire, and not stop shooting until they're all dead. You'll also need to buy businesses in each part of town, mainly so that you can use them as drug fronts, and you won't able to advance the story if you don't. But you can't just waltz in and buy each business right away. Business owners have specific tasks that you must complete before they'll sell. That means you'll have to go on a mission. Some of the missions make perfect sense and fit with something Tony Montana would do, like defending a restaurant from attackers. Another has you guarding a speedboat from a fixed gun position on a helicopter while it tries to find shark fins to make shark-fin soup for a wedding party at another restaurant. The slightly goofy missions make the whole game feel disjointed and flippant.

Press A to sell coke. Clearly, Scarface is for the children.
Press A to sell coke. Clearly, Scarface is for the children.

In addition to the main process of completing missions and buying front businesses, there's the more open-ended goal of making money and building a reputation. You have a reputation level that increases for a variety of reasons, including completing missions, and you won't be able to take on some missions unless your reputation is at a certain level. If you need to earn a lot of rep, that might mean you go several hours without progressing the story because you need to earn money to purchase junk for your mansion, which raises your rep and also gives you access to the stupidly named "pimp my mansion" feature.

Or, you can just go on what seems like an infinite number of side missions to help out coke suppliers, usually by defending them from attackers for a minute or two. Once that's done, you can get connected with the suppliers and purchase cocaine. Grams can be dealt on your own to street dealers or through your front businesses, though the street dealers usually give you more money for your product. As you move up the food chain and take over entire neighborhoods, you get access to supply warehouses. Around that point, you can start buying by the kilo and store those fat keys of powder in your warehouse. Once you've stored some coke, you can then go on a distribution mission, which has you drive around to your various front businesses, ostensibly to deliver the coke you've accumulated. But all you really do is drive around and run over boxes that give you money. During this process, gangs will show up and attempt to attack or take out your front businesses, but they never get too hard to deal with. Completing distribution is a great way to earn a lot of cash…dirty cash.

The game keeps track of two different sums of money. Your cash on hand is treated as dirty money, and when you die, you lose all the grams and dirty money on your person. The only way to protect your money is to go to a bank and launder it, which also lets you save your game. The laundering process isn't automatic, though. Whenever you go to deposit your cash, a golf-swing-style meter appears with various percentages on it. That percentage represents how much of a cut the bank will take for cleaning up your cash flow. You need to hold down a button to start the meter moving and let off when it reaches a success zone at the end to get the lowest rate. This same meter shows up throughout the game and is used to intimidate gangs, fast-talk your way past police, sell grams of coke to dealers, and even disarm bombs. It's a clever system that makes you feel as though you're actually working to accomplish these tasks, rather than just pressing a button, though it's not very hard and you'll rarely fail once you get the hang of it. Two other factors impact some of these meters, too. Your heat with local gangs impacts how much money you'll get for selling coke to dealers. Your heat with the police affects the percentage the banks will offer to launder your cash. You can pay either of them down with bribes, though the best way to deal with the police is to not attract their attention in the first place.

Scarface usually looks pretty good, though it has several noticeable flaws with its frame rate and cutscenes.
Scarface usually looks pretty good, though it has several noticeable flaws with its frame rate and cutscenes.

The game's control was fairly standard on the older consoles, with one stick to move and another to turn the camera and aim your guns. On the Wii, the game requires use of the Nunchuk attachment, and the developer managed to shoehorn in every different command, with often-annoying results. For starters, you need to constantly aim the remote at the screen, because it controls both your aiming and your camera movement. There are four different levels of camera control, which alter the amount of screen space devoted to aiming and the amount devoted to camera movement. When you get to the edge of the aiming section (which isn't marked onscreen), it starts rotating the camera. None of the four settings feels even remotely comfortable or easy to deal with, which means you're getting blasted while attempting to turn and fire. Pushing down on the D pad causes you to do a quick 180-degree turn, which is absolutely key. The analog stick on the Nunchuk moves Tony around the screen. The Nunchuk is also used for taunting and honking your horn, both of which are done by flicking the Nunchuk up, which seems totally random. While it's somewhat impressive on some level that the developer managed to cram a standard gamepad-controlled game onto the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, it's never fun to play, and you'll feel like you're fighting the controls from start to finish.

On the visual side, Scarface looks roughly on par with the Xbox version of the game, though it obviously supports only 480p, not the higher-res 720p you could enable in the original Xbox version. The frame rate usually stays solid, and the characters' faces animate pretty well. Unfortunately, though, all the faces show seams between their polygons, which totally ruins every single up-close cutscene in the game. As for the look of the world, the game does a decent job of creating a believable 1980s Miami and its surrounding islands.

We have no joke here, we just like saying '7,000 balls!'
We have no joke here, we just like saying '7,000 balls!'

The audio side of the game is all over the place. While the first credit in the game might say "Al Pacino" right on the screen, that's just because the character looks like the original Tony Montana. The final credit, however, is the credit for the voice actor portraying the lead character by doing his best Tony Montana impression. He's pretty good, and just like in the movie, most of his lines are absolutely packed with cursing. And as the movie was back when it was new, this may be one of the most curse-filled games around. The rest of the voice cast is full of fairly big names that don't necessarily sound like the sort of names you'd want in a Scarface game, like Bam Margera and Jason Mewes. The rest of the sound effects are as you'd expect. There are good gunshot effects, and the car engines sound decent.

Overall, Scarface: The World Is Yours is more a victim of some poor design choices than any glaring technical issues. The developer accomplished the task of bringing Tony Montana back to life. But by taking the focus off of the gameplay elements that you'd want in an open-city game and putting it more on the game's bland mission design and all the dull side tasks you'll have to do to earn a reputation, Scarface doesn't play to its potential strengths. The end result is a functional game that presents an interesting premise, but underneath you'll find a wholly uninteresting game that plays worse than ever on the Wii. The Wii Remote and Nunchuk are perfectly capable of playing a wide variety of exciting games, but Scarface isn't one of them.

The Good
There are no other Wii games out there quite like Scarface…
The Bad
…but that doesn't excuse its poor control, ridiculous storyline, and uninteresting mission design
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About the Author

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

Scarface: The World Is Yours More Info

  • First Released Oct 8, 2006
    • PC
    • PlayStation 2
    • + 2 more
    • Wii
    • Xbox
    Based on the movie of the same name, Scarface: The World Is Yours puts you in the role of Tony Montana, a ruthless gangster.
    Average Rating7234 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Radical Entertainment
    Published by:
    Vivendi Games, VU Games, Sierra Entertainment
    Adventure, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs