The Getaway: ‘over 18s only’
1 April 2005 | 0
The Getaway is the latest game to gain a certificate 18 rating, and it really earns it. From the outset, the game contains strong language, violence and occasional digital nudity. Set in London’s crime underworld, the game combines the gritty realism of such British gangster films as ‘The Long Good Friday’ or ‘Mona Lisa’ with the dark humour of ‘Snatch’ and ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’.
At heart, the game is an interactive movie. The Getaway tells the story of two opposing characters, one an ex-gangster the other a Flying squad detective. These characters have a common enemy, Charlie Jolson, boss of the Bethnal Green Mob. Jolson has murdered ex-gangster Mark Hammond’s wife and kidnapped his son, and has now blackmailed Hammond into performing assassinations, arson, kidnap and all sorts of felonious activities. Detective Frank Carter on the other hand, wants to nail Jolson, despite what his corrupt superiors might think.
The game is not unlike any of the Grand Theft Auto titles in that shoot ’em up and escape by car is the focus of the game. It’s in plot that The Getaway is far superior to any other game on the market at the moment. The story draws you in and keeps the player stuck to the console simply to find out what happens next. However, gameplay is quite repetitive; you’re either driving through London at speed while being chased by police and rival gangs, or shooting your way through environments such as strip clubs, warehouses and even an art gallery.
The Getaway lacks the freedom of movement that the Grand Theft Auto games offer; this game doesn’t allow the player to stray from its linear plot at all. However, this doesn’t mean it’s disappointing. I haven’t been so immersed in the plot of a game since playing the first Resident Evil game and the story line is easily superior to anything the Metal Gear Solid titles have previously offered.
Visually, The Getaway looks great. Over fifty square kilometres of the heart of London have been accurately recreated in amazingly photo-realistic detail. Anybody even vaguely familiar with the streets of London is sure to recognise some of the major thoroughfares and back streets that the action takes place in. There are over 60 licensed cars to steal and drive around this huge digital environment. These cars show wear and tear as you trash and crash them. Personally, I’m never satisfied with a driving game unless you can actually see the damage you’ve done to your chosen vehicle.
The on-foot sections of the game are just as impressive. The characters are superbly rendered and animated. As your character is injured in gun battles his wounds become evident by the bloodstains on his clothing. His injuries affect his mobility, and when wounded badly he begins to limp and then lurch through the game. There are no health restore powerups; when badly injured, the player must find a safe corner for Hammond or Carter to rest in and thus restore their health.
The cut scenes are well scripted and acted, and give the game a pace and atmosphere that the action could never achieve on its own. The game can be quite repetitive in that it’s focus is on driving to a location, shooting up that location and more often than not escaping from there by car. It’s the interest in what happens next that will have you returning to play the game again and again until all levels have been completed and the full story has been revealed.
The only disappointment with The Getaway is that once completed, the game has very little to offer in terms of replayability. There is a free roam mode that is available on completion of the game, but apart from doing a little bit of virtual tourism around London, I see very little value in this mode. In short, it’s a good game, but the publisher could have put more effort into the game’s longevity.