The Getaway – PS2 – Preview

Sony and Team Soho have teamed up to bring us a
new action title for the PS2 console and judging from the preview version, it’s
going to be an incredible game once the final version is released in January
2003.  Fast-paced driving, intense firefights, and unprecedented realism
prove to be a winning combination in this anything goes title.  At first
glance, The Getaway may seem as though it’s simply a Grand Theft Auto knockoff,
but don’t be fooled, as it’s actually a quite innovative game (sometimes even
more so than GTA) and it’s overall quality is rock solid.  However, there
are a few minor issues that could use some improvement, which are outlined
below.

Right off the bat, it’s obvious that the quality
of the storyline is a step up from what we’ve seen in the past.  The
Getaway has a British gangster film-like plot that will draw you in and keep you
interested.  Unlike other games of its kind, it also has the cut-scenes to
back it up.  The voice actors are amazing (from a non-British perspective,
at least) and the animations are also superb, as the mouth movements are near
perfect.  From the opening scene on though, it’s obvious that this is no
kid’s game, as the film-like dialog throws around the "f-word" quite a bit. 
This along with all the British slang, however, helps create the one of a kind
mood for the game.

The plot of The Getaway revolves around Mark
Hammond, an ex-gangster who has been trying to lay low since convicted of a bank
robbery and recently released from prison.  Everything seems to be going
fine, that is, until his wife gets killed and his son gets kidnapped.  As
Mark makes his way to the boss who’s holding his son, Charlie Jolson, he faces
strong opposition from Charlie’s boys.  Once he reaches the boss, he’s
informed that he must do as he’s told or his son will be killed; not very good
news to say the least.

Now as Charlie’s pawn, Hammond is forced to do
the bosses dirty work; killing old friends, cops, torching buildings, and
whatever else he can think up.  All Hammond wants to do is take Jolson
down, get his kid back, and move on, but that doesn’t prove to be an easy task
by any means.

The Getaway is based in downtown London, a unique
twist for such a game, and everything within the environment is amazingly
realistic.  The developers actually re-created 40 square kilometers of the
city and the result is an overall experience like none other.  No details
have been left out and everything from the cracks in the sidewalks to the
storefronts are just as they really are in the city.  Even the insides of
buildings are modeled perfectly to resemble actual bars, restaurants, warehouses
and more.  Additionally, all the cars found on the road are real models
from a variety of years and makes, including Lexus, Jaguar, Nissan, and more.

In terms of gameplay, The Getaway is free-roaming
and mission-based, but the 24 missions must be done in order so as to stay
parallel to the well done storyline.  Some of the missions involve driving,
while others must be done on foot in a third-person perspective.  Just like
in GTA, any car can be stolen, so the driving objectives can be quite fun if you
get a choice vehicle (assuming you remember to drive on the correct side of the
road).  However, one huge difference is that there’s no map to help you get
to your destination for each particular mission.  Instead, the turn signals
on the car are illuminated to help guide you.  This setup can get somewhat
frustrating when trying to determine the optimal routes, although having no map
on the screen makes the game look even more like a film.

Racing around the downtown streets is fun even
when not trying to complete a mission.  Each of the cars behaves just as
you’d expect they would and the damage that results from collisions is extremely
accurate.  Steam pours out of the radiator if you run into something,
rear-ends crumple, trunks pop open, windows break, and much of this affects how
the car handles.  Eventually the car catches on fire and blows up; oops! 
Time for a new one!

When on foot, The Getaway also proves its
worthiness as a shooter.  A variety of maneuvers can be used to effectively
go up against the enemy characters, including the ability to roll, look around
corners, and take hostages to use as a human shield.  If used correctly in
conjunction with either the auto or manual aiming, it’s possible to eliminate
these foes without too much trouble.  However, using the auto aim sometimes
makes it difficult to tell which enemy is targeted as there are no targeting
indicators.  The weapons found within the game include a pistol, shotgun,
assault rifle, and more, which can be switched between using the directional
pad.  Another tactic that can be used is the pistol whip, which usually
does the job quite nicely at close range.

One aspect of this version of the game that’s a
little disappointing is that the enemies behave exactly the same every time the
game is played.  This makes it too easy not to make the same mistake twice
and decreases the replay value significantly.  Although, it’s still fun to
drive (or run) around the city wreaking havoc and getting chased by the London
police.

Just as there is no map on the screen, there are
no other traditional indicators for things like health, ammunition, etc, which
is needless to say, unconventional.  Mark’s health level is reflected by
the amount of blood on his clothes and this can be quite hard to judge
sometimes, especially in low light environments.  Also unique is the method
of regaining health, which is done by simply leaning against a wall and resting. 
These choices were all obviously made to keep the game as realistic as possible,
but sometimes they inhibit the gameplay.

Graphically, this game is totally breathtaking,
as everything has been rendered to perfection.  The frame rates are almost
always smooth, textures are perfect and effects, such as smoke, fire, and even
the blood that splatters on the walls are awesome.  Additionally, all the
characters’ animations are smooth and life-like.  The sound found within
The Getaway is no less impressive, from the in-game dialog to the realistic
sound effects and appropriate music.

Sony definitely has a great title on their hands
here and there’s no reason why it won’t be successful (especially with a few
tweaks for the final version).  With cues from Driver, Grand Theft Auto,
and even some FPS games as well as a top-notch storyline; how can you go wrong? 
Well, it doesn’t seem that you can at this point, which is why the package is
already so solid.  This will definitely be one worth checking out.