Tony Montana's meteoric rise from down-and-out Cuban refugee to the lord of Miami's criminal underworld is the stuff of movie legend. Scarface has become synonymous with sleazy 80s pop culture and there are more games, films and songs inspired by it than there are stars in the sky. Kind of. But how do you make a game based on a downbeat crime drama appeal to the drooling masses without turning it into a gaudy shoot-em-up with car modding and tit shots? Well, after playing its ass off, developers Radical have achieved this by making a compromise - they've retained the mood and atmosphere of the movie to keep fans happy, but the game itself is made up of familiar GTA-flavoured parts that'll broaden its appeal and, ultimately, the smile on Johnny Casual's face. And it works.
DEAL OR NO DEAL
The game takes place immediately after the movie, creating an alternate timeline in which Montana doesn't die - instead, he loses his money and assets to the police and goes into hiding, emerging three years later to take back the city. His first goal? To get his mansion back from a pair of corrupt DEA agents who are shamelessly based on Miami Vice's Crockett and Tubbs. They want a hundred grand, so Tony has to do some small-time drug-dealing before he can re-establish his base of operations. Dealing is simple - an old contact of Tony's works at a bar (the same one where he and Manny try to pick up girls in the movie) and she's a supplier. She sorts you out with a few grams of coke, which you then dish out to street corner-dwelling weirdos and yuppies, cutting yourself a slice of the profit pie. The amount of money you sell for depends on your timing, as it's all controlled via an early TigerWoods-style swing-o-meter.
RISE AND FALL
Push enough drugs and you'll eventually earn enough cash to get your mansion back from the cops and, best of all, earn your 'exotics' catalogue. After the shootout in the opening level your gaff's in a sorry state - police tape everywhere, chalk outlines, bullet holes - which just isn't good enough for a wealthy drug lord. By browsing the aforementioned catalogue, Tony can spend money on decor and furniture, including his sister Gina's ashes (he killed her at the end of the film), stuffed pelicans and hundreds of other oh-so-tasteful items. You can also buy cars and boats, not to mention personnel like drivers and bodyguards. You can even haulout a massive 80s mobile phone and order your driver to bring your car to you at any time, anywhere in the city.
Our favourite feature, though, has to be chatting with pedestrians. There are 250 conversations in total, all of which are multi-tiered. Tony's tactless come-on attempts and sweary mouth make them hilarious. Hitting on uptight career women, berating hicks for being smelly, annoying hippies, calling random passers-by all kinds of incredibly offensive names - it's brilliant, pointless fun and adds an extra layer of ambience and realism to the city. But they serve a purpose too; they're the equivalent of GTA's hidden packages and if you finish every conversation in the game, you unlock one of the game's mountain of bonuses.
The soundtrack is excellent too, with a selection of radio stations - metal, country and so on - hosting a vast selection of licensed tunes, including the film's original score and songs ranging from Johnny Cash to Eric B & Rakim.
This could have turned out predictable, soulless and completely devoid of any reason to play it, but it bloody well won't be. Lush visuals, excellent sound design, ballsy arcade shooting bits, fun arcade driving and swears galore look like they'll make Scarface a winner.
Free-roaming crime may start and end with GTA in most peoples minds, but Tony Montana has the balls to be a contender. Fock!