In the gangsta pantheon, nobody gets more respect than Tony Montana.
Consider all the homages: Not one, but two rappers have named themselves after Montana (Scarface of the Geto Boys and Tony Yayo of G-Unit), and Nas borrowed Montana's slogan for his breakout hit, "The World Is Yours."
Indeed, the plot of the 1983 remake of Scarface practically wrote the script for modern rap. Played by Al Pacino, Montana starts as a Cuban refugee fed up with washing dishes and enjoys a rapid rise to the pinnacle of Miami's underworld, thanks to his hustle, braggadocio, and affinity for large-caliber firearms.
Scarface: The World Is Yours
Publisher: Vivendi Universal
Platform: PS2, Xbox, PSP, PC
ESRB Rating: M (for Mature)
Score: 8.5 (out of 10)
Then it all comes crashing down. Montana refuses to kill the wife and kids of an adversary of Bolivian drug lord Alejandro Sosa, earning the kingpin's wrath. Sosa sends an army of hit men to storm Montana's mansion. Montana falls under a hail of bullets.
But what if Tony had survived? What if, like 50 Cent, he had somehow managed to escape certain death? This is the premise of Scarface: The World Is Yours.
The game begins where the movie ended: Montana, on the second floor of his ornate mansion, tells his would-be assassins, "Say hello to my little friend." But in this version, Montana escapes and goes on the lam. Now he must rebuild his empire and take revenge on Sosa.
This isn't easy. Playing as Montana, you start off penniless in Little Havana. You'll slowly accrue cash by taking out local gangs, hitting up coke dealers, and "protecting" store owners.
Completing missions earns you lucre and reputation points, which bump you up in status and provide an array of flashy vehicles and weapons. You can also buy gaudy home furnishings for your reclaimed mansion. Try decorating your office with a stuffed tiger, an astronaut suit, and your dead sister's ashes. All class, baby.
As you advance through the game, you'll unlock some mysterious Caribbean islands to the south. Here you can purchase white gold by the kilo. You'll need a speedboat to zip the contraband back to the mainland, dodging pirates and the coast guard along the way.
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At first glance, Scarface may look like a Grand Theft Auto clone, especially since Vice City's setting was essentially 1980s Miami. But Scarface offers a compelling story line all its own, written by David McKenna (Blow, American History X). The game wisely borrows elements from some of the movie's best scenes, such as the freaky nightclub clown and the gruesome chainsaw butchery, but also offers fresh material, such as the opportunity to storm an ocean tanker via helicopter.
And in some ways, Scarface improves on GTA. In combat, a nifty targeting system allows you aim for specific body parts. You can lock onto arms, torsos, and yes, left and right testicles. If you talk enough trash while killing, you'll fill a "balls" meter that lets you activate a 30-second "blind rage" mode that makes Tony invincible while he spews an astounding litany of epithets.
Although Al Pacino didn't return to voice Montana, André Sogliuzzo does a spot-on imitation. Some of Tony's lines, delivered in his gravelly Cuban accent, are instant classics: "I want to see those ham hocks bounce!"
As morally murky as all this seems, it's also damn fun. Gram by gram, bullet by bullet, you get what's yours: the world, Chico, and everything in it.