When it was shown at last year's E3 expo, Scarface: The World is Yours got a lukewarm reaction. Its graphics were chunky, the gameplay seemed sketchy and overall it looked like a bad Vice City clone.
"It didn't pop," said Pete Wanat, the game's executive producer, as he explained why the game was essentially torn apart and rebuilt after the showing. "We view this as a long-term franchise. ... We can't mail in the first one."
And so, the entire virtual city of Miami was rebuilt, the driving has been retooled by the designers from the crazy, taxi driving game The Simpsons: Hit and Run and the shooting action was refined to the point where you can target individual testicles. A huge, customizable soundtrack has been added, the development team has doubled in size and the visuals got a smooth upgrade.
All this comes at a price, though, as the game's release has been pushed back (again) to sometime this fall.
Still, it looks like the delays are paying off. We recently got a chance to tear around in an early PS2 version of the game, and were immediately struck by how little the driving resembles other car-crime games. That is, your car doesn't feel like a brick sliding around an ice rink. The higher-end rides we jacked hugged the road tightly at high speeds instead of skidding all over the place, and even the crummier cars handled well. So well, in fact, that we actually had to try to slam into oncoming traffic.