in Video Games

Scarface PS2 – Retrospective review

Recently I’ve been re-playing the 2006 Playstation 2 game Scarface, to 100% completion. It took me approximately less than 2 days to do.

I had a blast, but there are things wrong with the game that I hadn’t noticed when I first played the game.

It may seem odd to replay a game that is 10 years old (as of 2016) and even then get the criticism that “why don’t you just play GTA, its a better game“; yes it is, but purely for an arcade-style action fun; I don’t think you can beat Scarface on PS2, even with its low resolution graphics.

Whilst the opinion that its yet another GTA clone is often quoted, I feel it does offer a little more fun, a more arcade-style approach that the later titles of the GTA line of games didn’t seem to offer.

It didn’t have as nearly as many side quests as the pinnacle of open world games, GTA San Andreas; and it didn’t have the same allure as GTA Vice City; which is heavily inspired from the 1980s Scarface movie.

But at the same time, this game has its charm; and mostly fun.

So, what exactly is wrong with the game?

Issue: It loses the message of the movie

The message of the movie is that there’s no going back from the life of crime.

The idea of the movie is that Tony gets his comeuppance; that he dies alone in a self-destructive spiral of cocaine addiction, paranoia and desire for wealth beyond anything else, even at the loss of those he trusted.

It was supposed also be some sort of ironic message that the only time Montana did something based on actual morals, it was the thing that actually killed him

The message is kind of destroyed when you put a spin that Tony got away just to do every single shitty decision again.

Beyond “losing the message of the movie”, there are other smaller issues I found with the game.

Issue: The end boss (Sosa) is way too easy to kill

It would have been fun to have Sosa at least a bit harder to kill; perhaps put him in a tank or he keeps running away with relentless hordes coming for you whilst he’s trying to escape in a helicopter?

Issue: Set pieces are never used thoroughly

There is only one mission, except the side-mission Felix leads, where Tony has to deliver goods by a Van. I would have liked it if he had to do more deliveries to get his initial reputation up without buying hard assets.

I only remember one or two missions with helicopters being your main boss or sub-boss.  There should have been more of them.

There is a ship cargo tanker on the Miami map in the Industrial zone, but you never go there to collect any formal cargo.  I would have preferred it if there is deliveries of product via the ship cargo at set intervals; that way a player doesn’t have to go to the Islands all the time.

Issue: The game relies too heavily on pick up and deliver

There is a lot of missions, side-quests where you are simply picking up something to deliver it elsewhere.  I think 90% of the game is pick up and deliver; the worst ones are the distribution missions.  Sure its fun to rack up the many millions of dollars you get for delivering product to your fronts; but doing it like 10-20 times gets relentlessly repetitive and boring.

To speed things up a bit you could just focus relentlessly on getting all 4 storehouses and then focus on getting the “Harvest plantation” as fast as possible; this means you reduce the shipping part, but you still have to deliver it.

Improvement: Have distributors or trucks on call that deliver your product; but it comes at a risk that you’ll lose the product to police/gangs and it comes with a percentage cut of delivery revenue.

Issue: Hitting 100%; but nothing to do

Hitting 100% in Scarface is pretty easy. Once you’ve beaten the story, bought every Exotic, eliminated every rival gang, there is nothing to do.

Other than doing yet more distribution deals, the only thing I can think of is to go to the Islands with your personal female bodyguards (whom you unlock once you get 100%) and just start wars with the many spawning enemies of the islands.

So what could they have done?

  1. Tony loses the fronts – to the Columbians; Make it a two-part story (200%)., and the second part is the Columbians take over Miami who are twice as strong, their armies twice as strong; make it a real challenge.  The last mission could be revisiting the Plantation, or Islands to take out the Columbians one final time.
  2. The Sandman twist – When I originally played the game, I thought that the Sandman character was going to turn on you; he never did.  It would have been better if he did and then this would reinforced the hate relationship between Sosa and Sandman.  Sandman’s motive: He wants Sosa out the way to control 100% of everything and Tony was just the triggerman.  So first-part, Tony kills Sosa; second-part its Tony vs Sandman/Columbians who are twice as hard to kill.
  3. The islands become un-lockable to control.  Missions on the islands become unlocked so now you try to take over the islands with their turf, with the final mission being in Boliva or some other island (not on the maps).
  4. Unlock Survivor mode or Relentless mode – Where you just have to live as long as possible
  5. Unlock other (abstracted) cities. A way to make distribution less boring would be if you could decide to attempt to send product to them.
  6. Other side-missions that are not simply pick-up and deliver

Despite all this, the game is actually a lot of fun, despite it being quite short and nothing to do when you hit 100%, I did forget how fun the game was; I enjoyed it for what it was.

Its just a shame there isn’t much to it.