The Getaway Review
So here I am, listening to The Beatles as I scream through the streets of London in my midnight blue Lexus SC430. Eventually parking and stepping out of the vehicle, I whip out my two pistols from within my suit, step inside a mansion and whack every damn wanker inside it with them. After exploring 4 flights of stairs, and killing nearly 30 members of the Triads, I leave with only a bullet wound to my shoulder. But things don't end there. As I leave, there are a bunch of Triads chasing me in their rice-burners (read: Honda Civics), meanwhile the filth have gotten word about my killing spree. Am I a dead man? Or is this where I prove to the underworld that I am a relentless man not to be f***ed with? I'd go with the latter. So I manage to trick my way around London's traffic, as all five Triad cars chasing me ended up meeting nose to nose with other cars. The filth? Well, what about them? After my numerous sessions of driving on the wrong side of the road and driving the wrong way on one way streets, I eventually lost them. So let's see...I drove a Lexus SC430; I live in London; I killed dozens of people; got shot in the shoulder; pissed off about 300 gang members; got chased around by a bunch of burned out 4-cylinder rides; and managed to out smart the cops by driving like a man with no remorse. Isn't The Getaway an incredible game?
It's been two and a half years since the announcement and the first renders of the game, but The Getaway has finally arrived, and the wait was well worth it.
Visually, The Getaway is a great looking game. While it doesn't quite look like the renders Team Soho released way back, it certainly does come close to achieving the look of them. For starters, The Getaway features superbly detailed character models that feature incredible skin complexions, which makes for very life-like detail. Team Soho used the faces of actual actors and rendered them perfectly onto their polygonal bodies. The facial detail is amazing, especially when compared side-by-side with the actual counterparts. The only real downside to the characters is their obviously textured and poorly detailed two-dimensional outfits. Character detail out of the way, The Getaway boasts fantastic vehicular detail, especially for a game of this size. While it's not exactly Gran Turismo, every car model is designed as precisely as it could possibly be. The cars are textured nicely and they cast very good looking environmental reflections.
What makes The Getaway an even more visually pleasing title is that it features the largest open-ended locale in a videogame ever. Team Soho managed to faithfully re-create 22 miles of London, rendered accordingly down to the last brick. Never personally visiting London myself, for knowledge purposes I asked a few UK online buddies to tell me how accurate The Getaway's detail is. The comments were quite positive, stating that the game was pretty much spot on everywhere. In terms of overall accuracy, they all said that it would rate at about 85%. Not bad for a game that large, huh? That said, unlike the demo, The Getaway's frame rate is quite consistent for the most part, though every now and then it does drop during very hectic moments, but nothing that really irritates. The game's use of vehicular damage is done quite well. The cars don't crumble like sand-castles. Though if you collide head on, you will damage your engine and it will begin to smoke and eventually it'll just completely burn out and your car will become useless. If you're hammered hard enough continuously, the car will begin to burn with you in it. You can escape, but there will be instances when you just burn. Watching your car burn slowly is pretty cool, as its tires will burst, glass will shatter and eventually it just turns into a big chunk of charcoal that's shaped like a vehicle -- it all makes out for a great visual spectacle in the end. One feature that The Getaway boasts is the ability to enter buildings during most of the game's missions. The interiors are designed incredibly well and feature some very good texture detail. Lastly, the environment, the time of day, and placement of clouds all change with every other mission. So one time it'll be cloudy, another it'll be sunny, and so on.
When it's all said and done, as an overall package, The Getaway looks sensational, but it is not without its flaws. There are areas of the game that feature some pretty awkward environmental nuisances with washed out textures. There are spots of the game that just look sharp as can be, and then there are a few spots that are just so damned blurry and washed out, it can't be ignored. On that note, my last complaint is that the game's CG sequences suddenly look terrible towards the end of the game. Around the 11th mission, you'll notice this happen, only for it to later go away as soon as you start playing as Frank. Regardless of the minor stuff, as I stated prior, The Getaway is an exceptional looking title, and for those wondering, the jaggies are very minimal and there is no shimmering to be seen.
After completing The Getaway, I'm compelled to go back to the game a few more times. The game plays out like a movie that you just can't stop watching. The story is everything you'd expect from a group of Brits. It's fantastic, full of vengeance, plot twists, violence, British humor, and more. You are Mark Hammond, a retired bank-robber living a normal life, when one day your life is turned upside down. Charlie Jolson, your former boss, sends his henchmen to kidnap your wife and son. Though, tragically they end up killing the wife, and only kidnapping the son. In wake of the commotion, Hammond runs outside only to find his wife bleeding to her death. Picking up the murder weapon in sheer horror, Hammond stamps his finger prints onto it and is mistakenly framed for the murder of his wife. On the run and in search of his son, he arrives at Jolson's warehouse where he is greeted by more of Jolson's men. Eventually, he is surrounded and beaten to submission. Jolson tells Hammond that in order to get his son back, he'll have to do him a couple of 'favors'. With no choice, Hammond gives in, and here is where the game begins.
Perhaps what makes The Getaway so incredibly appealing is its realism. The reason why a game such as Grand Theft Auto never managed to fully capture me was because of its cartoon-esque visuals and its unrealistic car models. The atmosphere in The Getaway really does help the gameplay shine brighter. The game features dozens of cars to steal, with manufacturers including Lexus (SC430, IS300, LS430), Saab (93), Toyota (1990 MR2), Honda (modified 1997 Civic), Nissan (Skyline), Mercedes (E500), Land Rover, Jaguar (S-Type) and much, much more! Each car has its own unique traits, such as acceleration, braking, handling and top speed. Though the traits aren't as true to life as, say, Gran Turismo, it's good enough.
Now, what sets The Getaway apart from a game like Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City and Driver, is that there are no on-screen indicators, such as a map, health meter, or a directional arrow. Driving decisions must be made by paying attention to the turn signals of your car. Yes, you read right, your turn signals. As ridiculous as it sounds, this is a pretty innovative feature, but it does take some patience to fully understand. At first, your missions will be rather simple, both on foot and in car, though as you progress and you get a much better feel of your character and the driving aspects (including navigating with your turn signals), the missions will become more and more hectic. There is a total of 24 missions, that are broken up between two playable characters. The first 12 missions are the actual story, as you assume Mark Hammond's role. The other 12 missions put you into the shoes of Frank Carter, who is part of the Flying Squad, and is set to track Charlie Jolson and his whole crime family, as well. Carter's portion of the game is more or less a fill in of what happened while Hammond searches for his son -- the stories are parallel. The situation is almost like Pulp Fiction, where towards the end of the movie the viewer is shown the cause of Jules' sudden disappearance. Each mission has checkpoints, some missions may have one, another may have two, and another may have three -- all depending on how many objectives are given to you during a mission. Upon completing all of the game's missions, you will be treated to a full-fledged free roam mode. You'll be able to freely roam around during certain missions (most notably the second one), but if you complete the whole game, more cars will be accessible to you when you drive around using free roam mode.
The on foot gameplay can be a bit of a chore at times, but give it a little patience, and it'll work to your benefit at the end. The auto-aim works extremely well, but we'll get to that later. As far as gameplay goes, The Getaway almost feels like a mix of Hitman 2, Grand Theft Auto, and "Lock, Stock, and 2 Smoking Barrels". (In fact, the actor that plays Charlie Jolson -- the figure that you see in the game and the voice -- co-starred in "Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels".) Despite what you may have heard, The Getaway is a sensational action/adventure title that does far more right than it does wrong. As a whole, the gameplay is extremely addictive and challenging.
As stated earlier, the game does take a little time to get used to, in regards to controls. Give it about ten minutes or so, and everything should fall right into place. The game's aiming feature works remarkably well when you are required to take out multiple people simultaneously. Tapping the R1 button will lock on to a target, and hitting square shoots your weapon. The pistols are far more generous in terms of precision, while the machine gun and shotgun need to be shot from a closer distance. There will be many instances when you, yourself, will have to fight off a heap of thugs during monstrous blood bath gun wars, which is when you'll realize how well done the lock on system is. As either Mark or Frank, you'll be able to shimmy along walls and sneak around to prevent from being spotted. Not only that, but both characters have stealth attacks. Mark grabs somebody and breaks their neck, while Frank grabs them and arrests them. If there is a weapon present, you can take somebody and hold them hostage, and by pressing Square with a weapon drawn, you will be able to kill the hostage.
The Getaway easily sports the best voice acting in a videogame to date. The acting is done by the very same actors that the game characters are modeled after. The dialogue is unsurpassed by any other title on the market, including the PS2's current roster of AAA titles such as Metal Gear Solid 2, Grand Theft Auto III & Vice City, Soul Reaver 2, Lord the Rings: The Two Towers and a select other. The timing, delivery and overall execution really make The Getaway's voice acting the best of the best. If you're having difficulty understanding the dialogue, there is a subtitle option, so use that to your advantage. That said, The Getaway has no radios like GTA, so the soundtrack is very boring and is obviously tacked on last minute -- it's nothing but very redundant techno beats. The sound effects are also done well; gunshots, tire screeching, crashes, engines and even pedestrians cursing at you is all there with force. It should also be noted that the game uses some extremely harsh language. In total, throughout the whole game, the "F-word" is said approximately 200 times, if not twice more. All in all, regardless of the tacked on soundtrack, the voice acting in The Getaway impresses so much that it's almost hard to care about the poor music.
With a total development time of 3 years, The Getaway delivers on all accounts. Visually, chances are you won't find many games like this on the PS2. The level of detail that Team Soho put into virtual London is ridiculous and will surely go unrivaled for quite some time. The car detail is precise and there really isn't much to complain about there. There are a few visual hicks here and there, but nothing too staggering. Most importantly, The Getaway plays like a dream. It's a hybrid of Hitman 2, Grand Theft Auto, and Syphon Filter. The action is top-notch, and while the controls may take a little time to get used to, the auto-aim is a big plus. On a final note, the game's voice acting is as cinematic as can get. With all of that said and done, The Getaway is worth the 40 bones that most retailers are selling it for. It's one of my personal favorite Playstation 2 games, and I highly recommend giving this game a chance, despite what you may have heard elsewhere...My final words: go out and buy The Getaway, you bloody wanker!
1/26/2003 Arnold Katayev