Gore and bore

Do you remember the terribly violent 1983 gangster movie Scarface starring Al Pacino in the role of Cuban immigrant-turned-Miami-drug-baron Tony Montana?

scarface disk 88 (photo credit: )
scarface disk 88
(photo credit: )
Scarface: The World Is Yours, a DVD-ROM in English by Radical Entertainment for Sierra, distributed with a 20-page Hebrew-language user's guide by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows XP and a 1.8 ghz Pentium 4 PC or better, for ages 18 and above, NIS 219. Technical rating: *** Moral rating: 0 stars Do you remember the terribly violent 1983 gangster movie Scarface starring Al Pacino in the role of Cuban immigrant-turned-Miami-drug-baron Tony Montana? Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, an even more blood-spattered and ruthless videogame version of the film has been released. Although the movie's bad guys occasionally used chain saws to cut down enemies rather than trees and cocaine is as commonly used as powdered sugar on Hanukka doughnuts, the computer action game goes to even worse extremes. Blood is spattered all over the place, killing is the raison d'etre of playing, Montana refers to assault rifles as his "little friends" and the language is as filthy as the floors and pavements of the killing fields. The game begins where the film ends. Tony is turned into Swiss cheese by automatic rifle bullets aimed at him in his mansion. By some magic, the once-omnipotent crime boss is presented as having escaped this hail of fire and having to begin life all over again with no money and no resources. You are shown "what happens when the world is yours and then you lose it," in Montana's words. Through some 40 to 50 hours of missions, you have to help him win back his drug empire and everything he squandered. The optional tutorial more than hints about the game's level of barbarity, as you have to practice shooting not only at painted targets but also at humans. When you fire at some man, you are told that you shot a bullet into his "right kidney," "left kidney," "groin" and "nuts" or just plain "dismembered" him - and the blood sprays all over the place. You are occasionally told that when your "health meter" is empty, "you are dead" and that you must grab "health packs" to resuscitate yourself. I myself felt faint from the beginning and looked for a vial of aspirin. While you are not supposed to slaughter innocent passersby, you are pushed to "taunt your enemies." The better you are at this task, the more (excuse the expression) "balls points" you receive. When you "balls meter" tilts at 100 percent, you are entitled to press the V key and go into the blind-rage berserk mode. This temporarily turns the third-person action into first-person killing, with auto-targeting of enemies to wipe them out faster and the ability to restore some of your health. As reckless driving around Miami and hijacking cars are the other main activities beside trying to wipe out other gangsters and the police, I felt the game was similar to the low-morality videogame series Grand Theft Auto but much less elegant. Some of the Scarface missions, such as a gunner on a helicopter protecting a speedboat so staff can fish for shark to make shark-fin soup to serve at a wedding in a restaurant, are downright silly. But the "serious" ones, such as buying up property to market drugs, taking part in gang shootings and sending out goon squads, are tedious, repetitive and boring. Only the excellent voice acting of Montana's character by little-known actor Andre Sogliuzzo - who once worked as Al Pacino's chauffeur - was memorable (if one can ignore the continuous cursing). The graphics engine is good but far from outstanding. As I found no redeeming value in all this violence, I took seriously the new University of Indiana study on the effects of highly violent computer games on young people. Researchers compared MRI scans of the brains of those who played violent games to those who played non-violent ones. They found that blood and gore has a significant effect on brain function, at least in the short term and perhaps for longer, shutting down self-control and concentration. Parents should beware, as software "age limits" are only recommendations and nothing prevents kids from buying games meant for adults.