Battle of the GTA clones

Scarface: The World is Yours
VU Games | PS2, Xbox, PC

The setup: Tony Montana survives the destruction of his mansion at the end of Scarface, and then sets about rebuilding his empire by chasing down leads, laundering money, selling drugs, buying rococo crap for his mansion and cutting up punks with a big nasty chainsaw.

The rides: A selection of pimped-out convertibles, sports cars and boats that Tony can buy from a catalog and summon at any time, plus whatever cars he can steal off the street. Oh, and there's a seaplane as well.

The violence: Nasty, bloody and extra-visceral. Tony can carry two guns - shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, his "leetle friend," etc. - and one close-up weapon, and the blood sprays like crazy when he turns his arsenal on people (but not innocents - that would be un-druglordlike). The aiming system is excellent, close-up executions and a ton of obscene insults are the norm, and the developers put some extra love into the chainsaw, which can be swung around in gruesome, analog-stick-guided arcs.

Why it beats GTA: The slick visuals and Drug Wars-style mission structure - guided more by Tony's drive to take over businesses and rake in cash than by its story - make this instantly appealing, and it gets more so when you add smuggling runs between Miami and a chain of tropical islands. Add a constant stream of invective from Tony's mouth, a kickass soundtrack and the ability to engage any pedestrian in a full conversation, and this thing just sprays personality (and blood) from every orifice.

Why it'll never beat GTA: At one point or another, you've done all this before. It's a feeling you'll have more and more as the game progresses and you're saddled with a bunch of repetitive missions that tend to run together. And because the action's based mostly around simple, straightforward missions, the story and gunplay don't mesh as well as GTA 's.

Can it survive? Sure. All the kids love Tony Montana, and Scarface was one of 2006's best sellers. It was a pretty good game, too, so we'd wager a sequel could give GTAIV some competition.


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