Scarface: The World Is Yours
When gamers think back on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, an outlaw odyssey through the neon-drenched world of '80s Miami, what do they remember? Maybe beating up a few hookers, maybe a high-speed powerboat chase down the local canals. But it's just as likely that they'll remember simply cruising the street at dusk with Foreigner's "Waiting For A Girl Like You" pumping through the stereo. And that's the big difference between the GTA games and knockoffs like Scarface: The World Is Yours, which is set in the same time and place as Vice City, but doesn't have that enveloping quality, in spite of its "playground" openness. It's solid, certainly leagues ahead of the usual movie-to-game adaptations, but its Miami is ultimately just a place to get missions done, not a space to live in.
Cleverly picking up right where Brian De Palma's cult favorite left off, Scarface throws your Tony Montana and his "little friend" into the middle of the climactic gunfight at his mansion. Once you blast your way through a gauntlet of rival drug henchmen and surrounding police, you're suddenly a man without an empire, presumed dead and forced to rebuild your business from scratch. This involves greasing the pockets of corrupt cops and just plain greasing the scumbags who have taken over the cocaine scene, all while managing your money and a network of dealers and thugs. A key element of the game is the Balls system (yes, those balls): Your Balls meter goes up when you taunt enemies or shoot them in various places, and when it fills up, you can enter a "rage" mode that gives you a period of unlimited ammo and invincibility. Take that, cock-a-roach!
Beyond the game: Several of the original cast members join a star-studded voice cast. There's no Al Pacino, but it's doubtful that even he could have done a better Pacino impersonation than handpicked replacement Andre Sogliuzzo.
Worth playing for: The game's one major advance on Vice City is that the missions have a storytelling cohesiveness; each one brings Tony a step closer to reclaiming his empire.
Frustration sets in when: In a nod to the film's most infamous scene, Tony adds a chainsaw to his arsenal, but unless you're within arm's length of an enemy, it's an awkward, unwieldy weapon.
Final judgment: Like The Godfather: The Game earlier this year, Scarface is about as good as movie-to-game adaptations get, but praise only gets fainter when talking about games-to-movies.