The Getaway, one of Sony’s most highly anticipated, most hyped and most prestigious titles… we’ve played it and here’s what we thought about it. The game starts of with a very cool intro movie, set in the shabby outskirts of London and very à la façon Guy Ritchie. And it definitely works for me! Especially the voice-acting of the characters with heavy (Londoner?) accents gives it that cliché ‘mobster’ ambiance. The intro introduces us to the plot and the main character of the game. You’ll be playing as Mark Hammond, an ex-gangster / ex-bankrobber who comes home to see his pretty wife murdered and young son kidnapped.
You grief the loss of your wife for about 16 nanoseconds… and it’s with some serious feelings of revenge that you jump into your car to give the kidnappers chase. During the rest of the game you’ll see about an hour of cut scenes, nicely spread across no less than 24 missions. Half of the game is centered around you chasing villains, shooting malicious gangsters and ‘negociating’ your sons release with mob-boss Charlie Jolson, a middle aged, ill-mannered, racist villain. The other half is centered around you being detective Frank Carter, but boy, it takes a long time to get to that level. No worries though, the game is exciting and entertaining enough!
Now, I’m not British, and I’ve only been to London three times, but I can definitely say that the developers, Team Soho, know their way in and around London. The streets have an amazingly real-life ‘ambiance’ and I recognised a lot of streets I’ve actually visited. Of course, you don’t really look at the buildings whilst chasing another car, but still, it’s eerie to suddenly recognise the hotel you stayed in while …*err*…‘borrowing’ a strangers car.
During gameplay, the first thing you’ll notice is the lack of icons, health meters or other indicators showing your characters health status or ammunition status. Instead, the developers have chosen to ‘visualize’ the damage Mark Hammond undergoes. If he gets shot in the leg, he’ll limp untill he dies. If he gets shot in the right arm, his aim will deteriorate. The more hits he sustains, the bloodier his suit gets, indicating how bad he’s hurt. If he dies, and he does die a lot, he respawns as a healthy man without any bulletholes.
Knowing that and having felt that you’ll get nowhere by just charging full-out trying to gun your enemies down, you’ll have to resort to stealth. Creeping behind wooden boxes, using shadows and crevasses to hide your presence from the bad guys, because once they’ve noticed you, all hell breaks lose. To further enhance the realism, the developers have chosen to limit the amount of weapons to one handgun and once secondary weapon. No more! But be carefull, if you pick up a shotgun with only 4 cartridges you’ll be sorry … because you’ll have to throw away the shotgun after 4 blasts and then reach for your revolver. And during this time, the enemy closes in on you.
Unfortunatly, the game has once enormous flaw: the 3rd person camera-view. More often than not, the camera is too close to your character and car limiting the sight on your environment much to be desired for. For example, when Hammond is silently crawling towards a group of villains, and he gets noticed from a guard behind him, it takes too long for the camera to turn 180°. Turning on the spot is extremely difficult and it’s no fun getting killed because your character is visible for someone behind a corner, yet the only thing you can see is the brick wall / corner itself. Highly frustrating.
You’ll need to drive a lot and just like in GTA3, your character can ‘borrow’ cars from innocent housewives (e.g. Renault Clio), businessmen (e.g. Mercedes & Saab, a Taxi) and small time drugdealers (e.g. Lexus & BMW). Now I’m not implying that all BMW-drivers are low-life drug-dealing scum… but… 😉 Important thing is to drive in accordance with the law, because apparently British cops aren’t sympathetic towards ex-criminals driving at reckless speeds through downtown London, shooting up bad-guys, all in an effort to rescue a young boy. In other words, they’ll chase you, and that element makes the gameplay more exciting, but much tougher.
Another nice element is that the car damage is convincing and that it has an immediate effect on the handling of the car. Unlike GTA3, if you drive your car on a sidewalk at high speed, your suspension gets a nasty hit, and your car will wander off to the left or right, so constant counter-steering is necessary. For exemple: if your left front tyre gets shot, you can drive two blocks further, get out and shoot the right front tyre to balance the driving. Nice feature!
As far as the graphics are concerned, I’ve mentioned earlier that the details of the surroundings are very well done. Especially the indoor scenes are of high quality. At first, Hammonds movements appear a bit clunky, it gets some being used to, so after a while it doesn’t form a problem.
Now, The Getaway has a certain style… a certain panache. As I’ve said before, a Guy Ritchie panache. You’ll hear some exquisite profanity, swearing and lots of racist remarks flying around. The explosions, gunshots and car-specific engine sounds are very well done, although I did miss some kind of a radio station while driving the cars. But perhaps that’s making too hard of a comparison with GTA3? All in all, the sound is of a very good quality, no remarks on that level.
In conclusion, I would like to say that The Getaway is everything the hype promised it to be: loads of fun, suspence, and action. The storyline and gameplay is highly entertaining even though you’ll have to replay some sections over and over again to get the right ‘angle’ on a certain mission. A title well worth owning and paying for, it’ll keep you entertained for hours on end, else you’re a bloody fu****.