It’s only watching the DVD of the supremely excessive Scarface [Amazon UK|US] that I see how much Rockstar Games flattered the film with their imitation. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is compared most frequently to Miami Vice and the like, but only now do I realise how much the game’s architecture and built infrastructure is lifted from Scarface, and how several of the movie’s key scenes provide the mis-en-scene for many of the game’s ‘missions’.
I suppose I always knew that it would be one of the principal influences on Vice City, but having seen the film again recently, on the pristine DVD, the entire game now feels closer to a re-run of Scarface than of any other particular cultural reference point. Please note: this is not a complaint! I’ve written before about Rockstar’s skill of draping a culture over a fictional city (in the context of the cities built as a one-reading-only model for film-making; creating a city through music and popular culture; how the model city really comes alive through behaviour &c.) and this is an incredibly sharp piece of work. One feels they owe something to De Palma and team none-the-less.
Over and above the general sense of visual style lifted from the movie, Vice City uses many of same tunes; amongst others, the infamous chainsaw scene is echoed in the game; the club scenes and architecture feature exactly exactly same decor and layout; even Michelle Pfeiffer’s dancing in the film – with its bizarrely mannequin-like demeanor and movement – now seems echoed in the movement of the dancers in the Vice City clubs. I thought that was just the limitations of the GTA graphics engine! Now I see it’s the limitations of the otherwise estimable Ms. Pfeiffer’s dancing.
As for Tony Montana’s mansion – it’s exactly the same decor and layout (horrific red and black lacquer) in game and film. And at the ‘end’ of the game (not that there really is an end to GTA games) you find yourself in pretty much the same scenario (save the whole sprawling in a mountain of coke thing): you, standing at the top of the delightful staircase, attempting to pick off, nay slaughter, bad guys as they enter the mansion in wave after wave of zapata moustache, atrocious clothing and machine pistol.
I know this won’t be news to many, but I was amazed at just how close the homage is.
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