After a long night on your console dealing out death and dismemberment as not-dead-even-though-he-took-a-bullet-to-the-back Tony Montana, that worn-out trigger finger likely needs a rest. Enter the PSP iteration of the new Scarface game. Rather than being a pint-sized Vice City Stories-style shoot 'em-up, Vivendi leaves open-world chaos behind and heads towards (get this) turn-based strategy on the streets of Miami. Though it hits a few marks here and there, Tony and company ultimately lack enough oomph to hold your attention for very long.
Unlike its console cousins, there's no fooling around with the Montana legend here, as the Movie Scenarios mode follows the arc of the film start to finish. A series of clips from the cult classic lay out the goals for the 10 missions (introduced fairly, um, graphically by the extended "chainsaw" scene). Your drug lord boss of the day has pretty clear, comically profane instructions on what he wants done - hire some pushers, take over some territory, kill a bunch of enemies - and naturally, resources are kinda limited.
Each scenario is split up into three sections per round: acquiring assets, dealing drugs, and engaging in combat (if so desired). It's a straightforward process - buy stuff, sell stuff, kill people. Lather, rinse, repeat. Accomplish your goals and there's a nice little (uncensored) scene from the movie as a reward.
Old school turn-based game fans will likely chuckle at the terminology, as instead of forts, military units, and weapons development, you'll choose between investing in pot/coke/heroin labs, hiring street thugs and pushers, or building drug warehouses. Before you send your minions off to sell narcota in the south Florida neighborhoods, you'll need to weigh the options and find the right market to squeeze out the best prices per drug. Microeconomics never felt so unseemly.
Violence inevitably erupts - especially when land is at stake - and combat involves watching your hired hoods blast away at each other at various street corners. They'll interject now and again to use power moves, pick targets, or even flee like a little scared babies (just pray Tony doesn't figure it out). Power Moves are the best friend a gangster ever had - souped-up special attacks for battles, drug dealing, or law enforcement that'll get you out of many a pinch.
The second game mode - the Cartel Challenge - is made up of variations on the same theme of money, drugs, killing, and territory, with its focus being on multiplayer battle royales via local wireless ad-hoc (nope, no online). While the specific goals may change (as the bosses you work for do), the gameplay fundamentals remain the same.
As with all strategy titles, battling friends gives the game some legs when you're done dispatching bodies on your own. This depends on you having some buddies with the game in hand, though, as Game Sharing ain't part of the deal.
There just aren't many options for strategically minded PSP gamers out there (although Field Commander is a tremendous exception), and Scarface: Money. Power. Respect. won't offend your senses. It's just that there isn't much there, and it gets repetitive quickly. Chances are you'll be more entertained by simply watching the movie a few more times - or heading back to your console for another blood-soaked round with Tony on the bigger screen.