The "Scarface" franchise was "built for the video game generation before video games existed," according to Universal Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger. "Now that technology and the audience have all caught up, we're hoping for great results."
"World," produced by Sierra Entertainment, allows players to assume the persona of the sneering, ruthless crime boss who stormed the screen in Brian De Palma's 1983 film amid a ferocious hail of bullets, blood and four-letter words.
Shmuger calls the game, which took three years to create, an "A-plus" production. Striving to adhere to the movie's spirit, story line, characters and locations to create a sequel of sorts, developers first answered the question: How does one build a game around a film in which the main character dies?
Screenwriter David McKenna was brought onboard to craft a game story worthy of the iconic drug lord. He proposed: What if Tony gets out of the movie's mansion shootout alive but with nothing -- no power, real estate or money?
According to "World" executive producer Pete Wanat, players must rebuild Tony's empire from scratch, earning back his cash, clout and crib. "They can pimp out his house however the player wants it done," he says.
Game developers painstakingly portrayed details in order to create a "fictional extension" of the film. "The fictional extension is not to tell the movie story but to fill in the blanks," says Bill Kispert, vp interactive at Universal Studios Consumer Products Group.
Locations such as Tony's mansion, the Babylon Club and the Sun Ray Motel are identical to those in the film, he adds. "Tony still hates Colombians, and he still has a propensity for dropping the F-word," Wanat says.
The biggest coup for Vivendi was bringing Al Pacino onboard to review the characters and other game elements. "World" marks the first time the actor has allowed his likeness to be used in a video game, according to Kispert.
Says Wanat: "Tony is a much-loved character. You have to nail that character -- it can't just be OK. It's gotta look like Tony, walk like Tony and talk like Tony."
Pacino insisted on bringing Tony's moral code into "World," especially given the popularity of violent video games such as those in the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise. "Scarface" has a body count of 42, but Tony does not hurt innocents -- and the game does not allow players to do so, either.
If a "World" player lines up an innocent woman and attempts to shoot her, Tony's voice will issue a reprimand like, "That goes against my code!" "If you did this game without that, it wouldn't be Tony Montana," Wanat says. But that does not mean the game version of Tony will take it easy on his enemies, or that there is a lack of action. "World" opens with a shootout scene at Tony's mansion and does not slow from there.
Striving to match De Palma's crisp colors and rich textures, Wanat and his team were supported by production values including THX sound, effects from Skywalker Sound, McKenna's script and musical licensing from top artists.
Rounding out the talent are about 40 Hollywood actors, many of whom requested to be a part of the game. Joining the film's Steven Bauer and Robert Loggia were Ricky Gervais, Elliott Gould, Oliver Platt, James Woods, the music industry's B Real, Ice-T, Ivy Queen and Lemmy of Motorhead and even popular NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
A collectors' edition of "World" will be available for a limited time for PS2. The specially packaged set includes a bonus DVD featuring a "Making of the Game" documentary, a walk-through with producer commentary, cast interviews, playing tips and a map of the game world.
Thanks to Angelique Flores