The Getaway (PlayStation 2)

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Written by  :  Cor 13 (174202)
Written on  :  Feb 24, 2003
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Bloody soddin' great, despite all the bollocks... indeed!

The Good

I've heard people refer to Getaway as a cross between Max Payne and GTA, and that's exactly what it is - though the Max Payne part is perhaps the more dominant one.

Getaway is a story of a man who has to fight on his own against the whole world. He is falsely accused of a crime - the murder of his wife, and his son is kidnapped by gangster who can now dictate him their will. It is a simple emotional plot, that immediately allows the player to identify himself with the hero, as easily as with Max Payne or with the hero of Outlaws.

Boasting excellent production values, Getaway manages to present a believable, extremely atmospheric, and quite a unique world of organized crime in London. Playing Getaway is akin to watching a good, solid action movie. The game deliberately spares no details in its faithful representation of the vicious, hostile world. Everybody are against the hero - the police, rivaling mafia gangs, and the cynical mafia boss Jolson who uses him as a tool for his dirty purposes. The criminals talk like criminals, mercilessly spitting out the four-letter word at every occasion. By the way, the voice acting in the game is superb, and the British pronunciation is (as far as I can judge) authentic and absolutely cool. The cut scenes are very cinematic, with appropriate camera angles and excellent dialogue.

The amount of detail put into this game is amazing. I couldn't believe my eyes when I first started driving around London. The city is meticulously reconstructed, every building is unique, the streets, the squares, the signs, the various types of cars, buses, and pedestrians - everything is so realistic that you start having a feeling you are really there. London of Getaway is a fantastic example of virtual reality. Simply getting into your car and driving around is a pleasure of its own.

The gameplay largely consists of two portions: driving and shooting. The driving basically involves going to the place where you have to complete your mission, and getting away from there. Often, rival gangs or police cars will chase you. They'll damage your car, but you'll always be able to steal another one. You also can just get out of the car and wander through the city. But mostly, you'll have to hurry to your next mission, where the main part of the gameplay, namely the shooting, begins. The shooting in Getaway is somewhat similar to that of Max Payne. You also control your hero while viewing him from the third person perspective. You can either auto-aim, or aim your weapon manually at a target, and can perform moves like crouching or rolling to a side.

An interesting feature gives Getaway a unique look: the game screen contains only the game world itself, nothing else. There are no health bars, no indications of weapons shortcuts or how much ammo you have left, and even no overview maps. There are no messages appearing on the screen (except subtitles for voices in cut-scenes), such as "got a bazooka" or "you have to find a silver key to open this door". There is no inventory and generally nothing you can do outside of the game screen (except pausing the game and accessing an options menu). There are also no shortcuts for weapons, because - quite realistically! - you can't carry more than one weapon in each hand, and if a weapon requires two hands to use it, then you'll drop your other weapon. So, you won't be running around with five kinds of guns, a crowbar, a shotgun, a flamethrower, and a chainsaw all together. You also won't search the environment for healing potions and ammo that are usually scattered around in shooters. Sometimes, you'll find storage rooms for weapons, and there you'll be able to find a weapon, or you'll be able to pick the weapons off the enemies' bodies, of course. But don't expect looting rooms for healing items and various ammo, because there are none.

Last but not least, the dazzling graphics prove Playstation 2 is capable of handling some nice stuff. The load times are minimal, the 3D environments huge, and the cars flow smoothly through London.

The Bad

Getaway's biggest problem is that it often sacrifices fun to its own ambitions.

Sometimes. it tries to get rid of unrealistic features by replacing them with others, which turn to be even more unrealistic - and less entertaining. Example: "wall-lean healing". The developers decided to eliminate the old trusted concept of healing potions and ammo being scattered all over the virtual world. At first sight, it seemed like a good idea. But when the natural question arises: how will you be able to heal yourself? - the answer is: by leaning against a wall and waiting. So a gravely wounded man, all covered by blood, unable even to walk properly, will magically regain his entire health by leaning against a wall.

Getaway strives to be a tight story-driven experience, but since it still uses a basic GTA formula for its gameplay, the comparison is inevitable. And while Getaway is undeniably more "artsy" than GTA games and has a better narrative, its gameplay is far from being the all-consuming, addictive fun GTA games became famous for. The ambition to be cinematic made the creators of the game throw out a lot of pure video game-related stuff: free-roaming, shopping, mini-games, optional missions, non-linear mission structure - none of that was implemented, presumably because this way the game would have a tighter narrative, become more like a movie.

Personally, I didn't mind that. Better be a first-rate Getaway than a second-rate GTA - that's what I said to myself. But maybe, if only Getaway were a little bit less strict with itself, it would have been an even better game.

The Bottom Line

Getaway is not a good "GTA clone"; it's just a good Getaway. The best way to handle this game would be to throw aside all comparisons to GTA and simply become immersed in its meticulously crafted world and enjoy its movie-like atmosphere and narrative.