Friday, April 24, 2009

Scarface: The World Is Yours

As I sit here typing this near the end of a busy day, I am listening to the soundtrack from Brian de Palma's Scarface, starring Al Pacino. It always puts me in a good mood.

You might think I'm a fan of the movie, but I've never actually seen it. I picked up the soundtrack CD after playing through Scarface: The World Is Yours, which managed to seem more authentically like fictional 1980's Miami than Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, while at the same time feeling like a GTA mission pack, so similar are the games in style and map layout.

GTA borrowing aside, Scarface:TWIY is a solid game, and works really well on the Wii, where the ability to point and shoot beats double thumbsticks any day. It was one of the first M-rated games on the Wii, ported over from the PS2, and it's a high-quality effort with decent graphics and quality voice acting. It didn't sell spectacularly, to my knowledge, but it still turns up in stores at a discounted price point and is well worth playing.

The game's licensed music mix is quite different from its GTA inspiration, and includes Giorgio Moroder's quintessentially 80's pop score from the movie. After spending so many hours guiding Tony Montana back to the top of his drug-dealing game, I became quite fond of the soundtrack. And it evokes the feel of the game every time I hear it. There's nothing quite like firing up my Chevy HHR and driving to work with Giorgio on the stereo, feeling like trash-talkin', gun-totin' Tony Montana, even though the only dealing I'm going to be doing involves the stack of emails accumulated overnight.


What I really loved about Scarface as a video game was the emotional impact of the finale. Bereft of the arsenal accumulated in the game prior to this point, Tony Montana now has to fight his way into his nemesis' compound with a mere pistol in hand, taking whatever weapons and ammunition he can from the thugs sent to take him down. It's a real struggle at first, as ammo is scarce and the bad guys vastly outnumber Tony. Tony is likely to die early and often until the player gets a handle on what works and what doesn't. But careful movement and target selection pay off, and eventually Tony infiltrates the big guy's inner sanctum.

And this guy deserves to die. He gloats over the deaths of Tony's loved ones, twisting the knife verbally, taunting the imperfect but honorable man the player has come to know over the course of the game. It's well-written, well-acted stuff. And when the time for talk ends and Tony finally gets to take him down, it's not the usual over-the-top gunplay seen in these kinds of games. It's up close and personal, driven by rage and loss and the desire for revenge. And it's very, very effective, especially with the Wii's "hands on" controls. When the credits rolled, I personally felt drained and victorious and relieved and dirty and slightly empty inside.


A videogame can provoke an emotional reaction, but it doesn't often work out exactly the way you'd like it to.

Scarface: The World Is Yours
nails it.

Vamos a bailar, esta noche.

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