Vivendi's 'Scarface' built from ground up


After a full year of delay, Vivendi Games finally will ship "Scarface: The World Is Yours" on Oct. 3. David McKenna, the Hollywood screenwriter who has penned films like "Blow" and "American History X," has mixed feelings about Hollywood's dipping into the archives for games despite having written the script for this new interactive experience.

"When you think about 'Jaws' and 'The Godfather,' although they were great movies, I don't see them in the same vein as something like what they're doing with 'Scarface,'" McKenna said. "It's getting to the point where you're just bastardizing the whole business just to make a buck. That's fine, but I think the American public is a little too smart for that. I don't think every movie makes a good video game, just like not every story makes a good movie."

McKenna believes the "Scarface" film was uniquely suited to be a video game because the film is entirely from the viewpoint of Al Pacino's Tony Montana, and because Montana is so violent and darkly funny. He also thinks that what developer Radical has done with this game is brilliant. He said he especially loves the Rage meter, which allows the player to build up Montana's anger and then go ballistic on his enemies with a stream of bullets and obscenities.

McKenna, who's not a gamer, learned a lot about the game development process over the past few years as "Scarface" was built from the ground up around his script.

"When you're making a movie, you can make one in three or four months if you're rushed, but building a game takes several years and a lot of attention to detail," McKenna said. "What they've done in this game is amazing. There are certain things you can buy in this game, including Manny's and Tina's ashes. That's the type of details these guys have come up with."

Vivendi was able to attract a huge cast of Hollywood actors and musicians, including Cheech Marin, Jay Mohr, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Dillon and uncredited celebrity cameos. McKenna said he loved the way the dialogue between the characters came alive on the screen.

"It's almost like the player is writing his own script in many ways," McKenna said. "The game makers are giving him guidance. These video game guys are amazing -- they're incredible to work with."

McKenna jumped on board for the opportunity to write the "Scarface" game because it's a film that he believes resonates as much today as when it was first released. It was the subject matter, rather than the interactive entertainment medium, that attracted him to this project.

"It really is a lot of work, and the pay isn't that great," McKenna said. "I think they would have to give me a bit more of an incentive to do another video game project. I know they're on really tight budgets for video games. I think that if they come to the realization that they can hire good writers to create video games, in the long run it will help sell more copies. You get what you pay for, unless writers and actors make sacrifices like we did on this game. But they're not going to be making sacrifices too many times, trust me."

While Vivendi, like EA with "The Godfather," has talked about the potential for future "Scarface" games, assuming the first title is a hit with gamers, McKenna is not interested in exploring this franchise any further.

"What are they going to do? Is he going to move to L.A. and try to take over Hollywood?" McKenna said. "You could do whatever you want, really. But what will the video game person put up with? How far will they go? But for me, I'm not a big sequel guy. I just do it and that's it. If they want to keep doing it and make more games, that's fine for them."
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