In The Getaway, you are a reformed bank robber named Mark Hammond who is awakened one morning to find out that his wife and children have been the victims of an abduction gone wrong. This has resulted in the murder of Hammond's wife in broad daylight on the street below their apartment. His son wasn't hurt, but has been kidnapped and when he tries to rescue him, Hammond quickly discovers the kidnappers' true motivation. The perpetrators were working with a surly crime boss who has enlisted Hammond's expertise for assistance in his criminal enterprise. The boss is using Hammond's son as blackmail to make sure he completes the missions without going to the cops and squealing. The Getaway begins on a rather bleak note and its plot becomes increasingly complex as you go deeper into the adventure with double-crosses, and unexpected twists. Later on, the perspective completely switches as you play an undercover cop looking to blow the lid off the British mafia. Obviously, the comparisons between the Getaway and Grand Theft Auto are inevitable, but not entirely accurate. Both games are incredibly violent, with an antihero as the protagonist, with violent imagery and strictly adult situations to go with it. Another parallel between GTA and Getaway is that both titles feature extensive driving sequences where you can carjack other vehicles, run over pedestrians, and avoid the police. Where the games diverge is in their structure and presentation. GTA's missions can be completed in any order, and its expansive environments allow players a great deal of freedom. However, the Getaway is much more structured and linear with the gameplay driven by a tightly wound plot that doesn't allow for much divergence.
Another key difference between the titles is that the Getaway eschews the normal gaming conventions and doesn't offer a map or health bar and instead uses a more subtle system that gives the experience a much more realistic approach. While you can ostensibly drive anywhere in London, going too far off the prescribed route results in mission failure. Instead of using a map or arrows, you instead follow the car's turn signals to tell you where to drive next, which is a more sophisticated approach. The other key difference between this and the GTA is the health indicator, which is a little odd but works well in the context. When you're hit, you suits shows a bloody bullet hole and the character begins to stagger about. Additional hits make your character stagger around, further hurting his effectiveness. The interesting twist here is that, instead of collecting health icons, your character can restore their health by standing up against a wall, which gradually makes them gain their strength back. However, the enemies can hurt you when you're resting, so be sure that the area is clear, since reaching for your gun takes awhile. This is an interesting system, though it seems to make things a little bit too easy in certain areas, just wipe out a floor than lean against a wall and move onto the next section.
The Getaway's missions consist of two main sections. First, you drive to your destination and after you reach it, Hammond exits the car and things switch to a third-person perspective. This structure becomes predictable after awhile, though the constant assault from multiple foes keeps you bust. Even when you think you've cleared out an area, a hidden foe can jump out from behind an area and surprise you. Your character equipped with a standard gun, which is quite effective. However, you can pick up additional weapons such as machine guns and flame-throwers from the fallen bodies of enemies. Strategically, it makes sense to take frequent rests to recharge your energy when you've taken a lot of hits, but this can also backfire since other characters have probably been alerted to your presence and will locate you quickly. However, you should definitely regenerate your health as often as you can. This is especially important before entering a new area, since it only takes a few hits at close range before you're seriously wounded or killed. These levels can be quite long with elaborate layouts that will require plenty of patience and grit to survive.
Whether driving or on foot, the Getaway's control system is quite intuitive and feels natural throughout. Driving is simple and the cars feel and respond just as they would in reality, with some real licensed vehicles included, which adds to the game's authenticity. When you crash, your car takes damage and causing too much damage will cause your vehicle to burst into flames, killing you, and ending the mission. The crash modeling and physics engines are exceptional with collisions with objects and other vehicles significantly affecting your cars' performance. Since the game uses London's actual street layouts, with pedestrian crossings and intersections, you'll have to be careful. As you drive in the wrong lanes, hop on sidewalks, and knock over objects, you'll cause violations that will be noticed. The more traffic rules you break, the more intense the cops will become in trying to capture you, including installing roadblocks and blocking intersections with their cars. You can hear them screaming at you to stop while all this is going on, which only adds to the intensity.
Once you get out of your car and onto the street, you can move the character around and perform a variety of moves. Jack can do quick rolls to escape from enemy shots, which is quite cool. He can also move stealthily through the levels by walking against the wall. He can also crouch behind objects and fire from behind them, which allows him to battle with less exposure. He equips the weapons by using the square button, then aims using the shift keys. Pressing the square button again fires the weapon. When you run out of ammo, you can pick up more automatically by moving over fallen enemies. You can also reload the ammo by pressing the L2 button. Moving the d-pad around moves your gun around, but the lack of a sight and the over-responsive controls make it difficult to target even the closest enemies. While you can auto-target enemies, the cumbersome interface is still difficult to you and leaves you vulnerable to attack. The controls improve with practice, but you'll still take a lot of damage when faced with multiple enemies at close range who are firing simultaneously. This can be enormously frustrating, leading to seemingly endless replays of the same levels. However, the ability to recharge your health makes things much easier than they would have otherwise. This mitigates these controls somewhat and allows you to familiarize yourself enough with them early on to become proficient enough to survive the later levels. Despite these flaws, the transparent nature of the game's interface simplifies things a lot and allows you to concentrate on your task without a lot of menus and icons creating a distracting clutter on the screen.
This transparent interface is essential in creating a sense of disbelief. This different style of play mechanics is extremely important and ties into what Team Soho, the development team, set out to achieve with the game. They set ambitious aesthetic goals when they developed The Getaway. It represents a significant attempt to bridge the gap between cinematic storytelling and electronic gaming while melding these two approaches together seamlessly. From a technical standpoint, they have succeeded because the Getaway's production values are nothing short of breathtaking. Start with the incredible recreation of London itself, with more than 40 square Kilometers of the city included in the game. Each of these urban locations has been faithfully scanned and rendered perfectly into an impressively robust graphics engine. This allows you to experience London almost exactly as it is in reality. This ambition gives it an unprecedented realism that few games have been able to match. The car models look and respond just as a real vehicle would, without sacrificing gameplay. Everything from lamp-posts to pedestrians have also been painstakingly reproduced. This makes The Getaway's environments entirely convincing from beginning to end. It doesn't stop there, since the developers have used cinematic techniques extensively with camera angles and scene blocking used effectively throughout. Further adding to the realism, actual human actors portray the Getaway's characters. They move and react to different situations realistically with body language and small quirks evident in each individual. What's impressive about this is that even minor characters such as guards look, act and talk differently from one another. When the action switches to a close up viewpoint, you can see a great detail in each character's facial movements and expressions, giving them an incredibly life-like appearance. The voice-acting is quite extensive with excellent dialogue that propels the story forward. This use of professional actors gives the Getaway the feel of an indie British film and the excellent writing hasn't been dumbed down, and includes plenty of swearing and slang. The game is a tour de force in this department, making it one of the most aesthetically impressive PS2 titles to date.
On some levels, the Getaway definitely
represents a true melding of cinema and game as has been touted. In some other
areas, the game falls short of expectations. From a production standpoint, the
game is outstanding and impresses in its ambition because of its uncompromising
storyline, engaging characters and technical competence. Thankfully, Sony hasn't
watered down the game for the US market and those looking for an adult game will
not be disappointed. While there is plenty of violence and some very adult
themes, none of it feels gratuitous because of the excellent writing and action.
This is about organized crime after all, so you should know what you're getting
into. From a gameplay standpoint, the driving sequences don't offer the freedom
that GTA does, but the trade-off here is increased realism and a tightly wound
plot that keeps you engaged throughout. This is more than fair considering the
deeper plot. Unfortunately, the third-person sequences fall a little flat thanks
to the awkward controls that make aiming your gun accurately more difficult than
it could have been. However, the frequent opportunities to recharge makes
playing much easier than it would have been otherwise. Completing these missions
is not easy, but a good player should be able to make significant progress
easily without too much difficulty. While some of the missions become repetitive
after awhile, the rewards for succeeding are additional chapters in an engaging
storyline that keeps your interest level high throughout. Despite its control
flaws, this is one of the best looking and playing PS2 titles to date and the
lack of condescension is refreshing. The Getaway's sophisticated approach makes
for an engaging, entertaining title that sets a new standard in both realism and