New footage of the cancelled open-world game Scarface: Empire, the sequel to 2006’s Scarface: The World is Yours, has appeared online, showing both concept art and some gameplay mechanics, in a video published by the aptly named Mafia Game Videos.
GTA set the pace
Crime and gangster video games have been big business since the original Grand Theft Auto was released for Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Windows 3.1, and MS-DOS back in 1997. A wealth of titles have been released in the ensuing 25 years to try and entice gamers away from the GTA franchise, including the uninventively titled Mafia, first released in 2002 by Illusion Softworks, and tie-ups with films such as the popular title Scarface: The World Is Yours, released in 2006 for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC by Radical Entertainment.
The World Is Yours was not an exact adaptation of Brian De Palma’s 1982 classic movie, but instead created a world where al Pacino’s character, Tony Montana, survives and lives to exact revenge on those that tried to oust him and re-establish his Miami cartel. The game was relatively well received by critics at the time, with many comparing it favourably to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which was released a couple of years before, but it never matched the GTA franchise in terms of popular appeal and sales.
Nonetheless, the game was still profitable for the studio, and so they started work on a second instalment, known as Scarface: Empire, where Tony Montana would flee the heat in Miami and try to setup his “business” in Las Vegas, which was reported to be setting up a casino whilst running a more traditional “mafiosa” business of drugs and enforcement behind the scenes.
What could Tony Montana’s world have looked like?
The newly leaked footage from Empire sheds some light on how the game might have looked. And whilst the graphics and gameplay certainly look like they are from 2008, it is interesting to consider the direction Radical Entertainment may have taken the franchise had Empire ever seen the light of day. Much was made of the GTA: Diamond Casino & Resort. It sat within a context in which online casinos had spiked in popularity and a large portion of the population was familiar with establishments where they could play roulette, blackjack, and poker from a desk chair or on a mobile phone. Moreover, these players have come to expect a wide variety of each of these types of games from online casinos – casinos typically offer European, American and Lightning roulette, for example.
So, with Tony Montana taking control of a Las Vegas casino, could the Scarface franchise have beaten GTA’s casino to the punch and released a full casino game within a game, where players could play their casino favourites while taking a break from Tony Montana’s “other activities”?
The leaked video, dated June 6, 2008, shows Tony Montana evading police and shooting his way through the streets of Las Vegas alongside a variety of animation tests and a number of scenarios for a “second chance” game mechanic that would initiate after the protagonist takes too many shots to the chest.
In the end, Scarface: Empire never made it to PCs or gaming consoles as the title was indefinitely shelved by Activision after they acquired Radical Entertainment in 2008 and the company decided it had too many open-world games in development at the time and did not see a future for Tony Montana. Gamers never got to enjoy Scarface: Empire, but with today’s love of nostalgia, could Tony Montana have another adventure in a franchise reboot?