The game keeps track of two different sums of money. Your cash on hand is treated as dirty money, and when you die, you lose all the grams and dirty money on your person. The only way to protect your money is to go to a bank and launder it, which also lets you save your game. The laundering process isn't automatic, though. Whenever you go to deposit your cash, a golf swing-style meter appears with various percentages on it. That percentage is how much of a cut the bank will take for cleaning up your cash flow. You need to hold down a button to start the meter moving and let off when it reaches a success zone at the end to get the lowest rate. This same meter shows up throughout the game and is used to intimidate gangs, fast-talk your way past police, sell grams of coke to dealers, and even disarm bombs. It's a clever system that makes you feel like you're actually working to accomplish these tasks, rather than just pressing a button, though it's not very hard and you'll rarely fail once you get the hang of it. There are two other factors that impact some of these meters, too. Your heat with local gangs has an impact on how much money you'll get for selling coke to dealers. Your heat with the police has an effect on the percentage the banks will offer to launder your cash. You can pay either of them down with bribes, though the best way to deal with the police is to not attract their attention in the first place.
This may be the only game around that features something called a balls upgrade.
One of the most exhilarating parts of any Grand Theft Auto-style game is the ability to get out in the middle of the street, arm yourself to the teeth, and start going crazy. Scarface doesn't let you do that, because not only can you not pull the trigger when pointing at any civilian (the game likes to repeat the "I don't need that s*** in my life" line from the movie when you try to blast innocent people), but you also can't get into a protracted standoff with the police. As you do dirt in a visible manner, such as shooting it out with gangs in the streets or even getting into a lot of hit-and-run accidents, a meter starts to slowly fill up. If it gets full, the police show up on the scene. If they don't see you shooting, you might be able to put away your gun and sweet talk the law into leaving. Or, you might just have to get away. The meter then becomes a timer that slowly drains, and you absolutely must get away from the police in a fast car. If you don't get away before time expires, the game lamely proclaims "you are f***ed" and shots ring out from nowhere, killing you almost instantly. There doesn't seem to be any way to fight your way out of this situation. You truly are "f***ed." It's interesting that someone tried to come up with a new way to deal with the police in a Grand Theft Auto clone, but this method isn't any fun at all.
That applies to much of the game, really. Most of the missions aren't much fun, either, though at least the act of firing a gun is handled well and surprisingly bloody. Comical, Mortal Kombat-like streams of blood blast out of just about any person you shoot, especially if you blow someone's head off. You can lock on and target enemies, and then use the right analog stick to refine that aim for headshots and so on. But once you start getting AK-47s and other high-powered weapons, locking on seems like a waste of time. You can just aim at head height, hold down the trigger, and sweep across a row of enemies to wipe them all out immediately. Plus, shooting without locking on is a more effective way to earn "balls," which is a rage meter. When your balls gauge is full, you can go into a blind-rage mode that takes the game first person for a bit. While in rage mode, you autotarget enemies, which makes them extremely easy to kill. Also, each kill causes you to regain some of your health, making it a useful feature.
On the visual side, Scarface looks sharp on the Xbox thanks to its 720p support, though the game bogs down when there's a medium amount of action onscreen. The PlayStation 2 version seems to stay running at a set speed and frame rate, but it also doesn't look nearly as sharp. The PS2 version has support for progressive scan, but the game looks better if you don't turn it on. All turning on progressive scan seems to do is blur the graphics. As for the look of the game, it does a decent job of creating a believable 1980s Miami and its surrounding islands.
After taking over a couple of neighborhoods, you'll have to visit some of the surrounding islands via boat.
The audio side of the game is all over the place. While the first credit in the game might say Al Pacino right on the screen, that's just because the character looks like the original Tony Montana. The final credit, however, is the credit for the voice actor portraying the lead character by doing his best Tony Montana impression. He's pretty good, and just like the movie, most of his lines are absolutely packed with cursing. And as the movie was back when it was new, this may be one of the most curse-filled games around. The rest of the voice cast is full of fairly big names that don't necessarily sound like the sort of names you'd want in a Scarface game, like Bam Margera and Jason Mewes. For the most part, the voices are fine, though the character Mewes (Jay of Jay and Silent Bob fame) plays shouts "die, fat ass, die!" at one point. Who thought working in a fairly obscure Mallrats reference was a good idea? Tony Montana isn't even fat! The rest of the sound effects are as you'd expect. There are good gunshot effects, and the car engines sound decent. The game makes good use of surround-sound setups, especially on the Xbox. The soundtrack is pretty long and contains songs from the movie as well a bunch of newer stuff from acts like LL Cool J and Cypress Hill, though much of it isn't very effective at setting the appropriate mood and at its default setting, the music is usually a bit too loud, drowning out important sound effects or character speech.
Overall, Scarface: The World Is Yours is more a victim of some poor design choices than any glaring technical issues. The developers accomplished the task of bringing Tony Montana back to life. But by taking the focus off of the gameplay elements that you'd want in an open-city game and putting it more on the game's bland mission design and all the dull side tasks you'll have to do to earn a reputation, Scarface doesn't play to its potential strengths. The end result is a functional game that presents an interesting premise, but underneath you'll find a wholly uninteresting game.