Therefore, after hearing and reading about this game for the last two years it has finally arrived. Sonys Team Soho had big plans for this game right from the initial concept. They wanted to create a movie-like experience and to immerse the player to a real living London, England. They had dreams of making the game as interactive and real as possible. They wanted to create a British flavoured story with the pace and direction that many have compared to a Guy Ritchie film. All of these dreams were to made possible thanks to the power of the Playstation 2. As time went on, things were kept quite from the developer and Sony in general. Grumbling could be heard, as the overall scope of the project may have been too ambitious to ever be completed. Early betas at various industry events did little to impress that many people. The game saw a couple of delays that pushed it into January 2003. This was perhaps a good move on Sonys part as the game would have been lost in the crowded holiday schedule. I suppose Team Soho could have gone on forever with development but someone finally said that time was up. What we end up with is a mixed game. Some facets are brilliant and exciting, while others are stupid and downright frustrating.
The visuals in this game are quite good but I honestly expected a bit more variety. Team Soho did an admirable job in recreating 21 square miles of London for the game. Although it is extremely detailed for anyone who has ever been there, those who have not, may not find it any more interesting that the streets in Vice City. Regardless, the scope and fine details that the team has recreated are impressive. The right signs are in place as are the names of local establishments. The street size is comparable to the real thing, which many North Americans may find narrow compared to what they are used to. Beyond the street designs, the game also offers some great interior designs as well. Varied textures are used throughout, as are subtle lighting techniques to portray the dark mood that is prevalent in the storyline. Another nice visual feature is the real representation of various cars depicted in the game. As in Vice City, all vehicles can be commandeered for your various needs. Each handles differently as they would in real life. You can even take a double Decker bus if you need to. It is not the most functional vehicle but in times of need it will do. That brings me to the character design. The artists did an amazing job of rendering real actors to be used in the game. Unfortunately, they do not move as well as they look. The animation movements are awkward at best especially during any sequences that involve running. Lastly, explosions and gunfire along with environmental effects have been done competently. The soundtrack accompanies the flow of the game quite well. Sound effects are great as car crashes are convincing, as are various gunshots and explosions that you encounter throughout the game. The voice work that is provided here will probably get my vote for best voice acting in a videogame. Professional British actors to provide a gritty edge to accompany the plot have done it. None of the actors held back with their performances. It would appear that each actor and actress was really into his or her character and the result is brilliant. For those outside of Europe, some of the language used may be a bit confusing. Thick cockney accents are present and they go full speed ahead. Sony includes a glossary to a number of common English expressions to assist those who do not know what is being said. Although I did enjoy the voice acting, I thought the use of F**k was overboard. I sat for one session and counted an average of once every four words, the vulgarity among others was used. For this reason and the obvious violence that is in the game, this title is not for minors.
Comparisons have been made between The Getaway and GTA: Vice City. They should not because both are different games that only borrow on a couple of game play mechanics. The plot in The Getaway is the real star. It follows the story of two men from opposite sides of the law. Mark Hammond, an ex-bank robber and former member of the Collins Crew gang, is on the run for the murder of his wife. Frank Carter, a vigilante police officer, was suspended from the Flying Squad. Both men manipulated by Charlie Jolson, a notorious crime boss of Londons East End for more than 30 years, are desperate to clear their names. Longing for revenge, they share their obsession of bringing down Londons legendary crime boss. Each man has 12 stages dedicated to him. Their stories will intertwine at various stages throughout the game, but each mans quest will take them on different routes to meet the same end. Although we found Carters stages to be more exciting, it is Hammonds story that most players will be able to identify with. If this game were judged on its story, alone it would easily garner a 10. It is the mixed bag of game play and awful camera that deter from the experience. The stages are a mix of on-foot and driving sequences. The on-foot sections are very weak. The objectives are fine but it is the way the character is handled that is disturbing. In an attempt to make things different and to free up clutter on the screen, health is not managed by status bars but by rather leaning against a wall to rest. It becomes a royal pain in the ass to figure out how much life you have left before passing out. In addition, in areas that involve intense gunfire, there are not too many places to take a rest without being blown to pieces. Next comes how awkward the character moves. This not helped by an auto-lock on feature that sometimes has a mind of its own. Finally, we have a very awkward camera to work with. There is no way to move it around as most third person perspective games have. I am not sure why it was omitted because surely in beta testing, the camera must have made testers go insane. The best portions of the game come in the form of crazy driving sequences that are reminiscent of European action sequences. Tight roads and corners make for some great, on the edge of your seat action. As already, mentioned, the cars look fantastic and all handle significantly differently thanks to the fact that they have been programmed to mirror their real-life counterparts.
Beyond the 12 individual stages for each character, there is little to keep you coming back. Although the free-roaming mode becomes available after clearing the game which allows you to refine your driving skills while taking in the sites in and around the rendered London. Apparently, Team Soho is already working on a sequel to this game. Here is what we would like to see. The camera and pace of the on-foot experience must be overhauled. I do not think many people will take to the game a second time if this is not taken seriously and remedied. The streets need to have more life to them. While there are few people around, they are not enough to truly convey the size of London and its inhabitants. Lastly, some sort of online function would be nice. Perhaps people could be part of one of the gangs presented in the game.
The Getaway is a prime example of the way interactive entertainment is going. Like in the early days of Star Wars, people had a vision that took years to master. The same could be said about the game industry. As studios come to terms with the technology, the stories and ideas that drive some of these games will begin to shine. Team Soho has the vision, now they need the technical expertise to refine it into a completely workable product. Your like or dislike for The Getaway will hinge on two things. First, whether you like the story and its presentation. And second, if you can get past the shoddy camera work and awkward foot missions. Regardless, you owe it to yourself to check out this game for yourself before passing final judgement.