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December 20, 2002
The Getaway - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
13/12/2002SonyTeam Soho1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Actual in-game graphics.
Where do you start when reviewing a title such as this? So many promises, so much potential, so much hype. Team Soho, a division of Sony Europe, began development of The Getaway as a PSOne title with only 8 people working on the game. Since that time however, and with the shift to Playstation 2, over 50 people have been working away at this title and have taken it from a predominantly driving game to a driving and action game. As you can see the graphics are as close to photo-realistic as ever before, and the developers have re-created over 40 square kilometres of London to give the game and authentic look. Everything from buildings to billboards has been faithfully reproduced. But let's start with the story.

The storyline of The Getaway tells the tale of two men on opposite sides of the law. The first is Mark Hammond, ex-bank robber and gangster who is on the run for the suspected murder of his wife and kidnapping his son. Then you have Frank Carter, a cop with a massive chip on his shoulder. Both men are being worked over by Charlie Jolson, the Godfather of London's East End for more than 30 years. Jolson has Hammond's kid and is forcing him to be his errand boy -- basically doing his dirty work for him. Hammond wants out, but he has to figure out how to get out of this situation and save his son. Carter is looking to take down the notorious crime boss himself. Who will come out top? Will Hammond save his son? It's all up to you.

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The driving sections are awesome.
From the start it is immediately apparent that this isn't a game for kids. There is more swearing and violence through the course of this game then a 1980's Arnie movie, and even gives recent movies like Pulp Fiction and Snatch a run for their money. The Getaway combines driving (or getaway) sections with third person action sections. In all the game includes 24 missions, 12 played as Mike Hammond and then 12 played as Frank Carter, a cop which then allows you to see the other side of the story with each mission different, but linking up in some way. Each of the 24 levels is broken up into sub-levels, which have checkpoints, but the game is only saved after completing each level completely. By completing the 24 levels you unlock the excellent Free Roam mode where you can drive around the streets of London at your leisure.

Let me first start with the good. The driving sections are simply stunning. As is becoming the norm these days the developers have secured licenses for over 60 different cars from manufacturers such as Saab, Lexus, BMW, Land Rover and even the world famous red double decker buses. There are also a couple of high powered vehicles available to drive from rival gangs which help you speed to your next destination much quicker, and dangerously, then normal. Each car has a realistic physics model for the driving sections of the game which changes the properties of each vehicle. If a car's too slow for you, hop out, pull out your gun and steal another.

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Diving out of the way.
One of the greatest things about the driving sections of this game is the tremendous sense of speeding through a real location. I have never been to London myself, but have seen plenty of movies and photos and the detail reproduced in this game is splendid. Navigation is performed by the indicator lights on the car telling you when to turn down streets, many of which are one way making the journey very exciting. All of the cars are also prone to damage, either through collisions with other cars, or bullets from rival gangs or cops trying to stop you.

While the driving sections of the game are absolutely splendid the third person action sections have some good and bad points. One of the positives is the variety of game styles. In some levels it's a massive shootout with enemies in the form of rival gangs or cops. Other levels are more stealthy and require you to sneak into buildings undetected. Targeting is performed manually using the R2 button, however without a first person view of laser targeting it's pretty hard to see what you're hitting. R1 on the other hand allows you to auto-aim onto the enemies and is probably the preferred choice unless you like being killed every couple of minutes.

By far the biggest problem with the action sections in is the camera angles. There is no option to manually rotate the camera other then facing the desired direction and pressing the manual aim button. Also, when the camera angles change so does the controls immediately. One minute you heading for one corner of a room, the camera changes and you suddenly turn around and head back the other way, the camera changes back again, and so does your movement. Very sloppy. Also disappointing is the fact that in the buildings all the doors are wide open, with all the closed doors unaccessable. It would have been nice to have rooms closed off until you open the door. There surely could have been some nice surprises waiting for you that way.

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Real life London streets.
Sadly, the game isn't perfect. I was disappointed by the fact that no matter how many times you were shot all you have to do is lean against a wall to regain all your health. Do it often enough and almost any level becomes a cakewalk. The enemies are faily ridged in their locations. Blow up some stuff and while enemies in that room will come running, the ones in the next room won't move. The next disappointment is the weapons. During he game you have the options of a single pistol, double pistol, machine gun (2 types) and a shotgun, which is as weak as piss. A little more variety would have been nice. This game most certainly cries out for a sniper rifle in some levels and is a massively missed opportunity.

Graphically, The Getaway is simply stunning. The levels, both interior and exterior are almost photo-realistic. With over 30 graphic artists working on the title for a several years, every single aspect has been fine tuned to perfection. Over 28 square miles of central London has been re-created including all the buildings and streets faithfully reproduced. Each of the characters in the game is made up of approximately 2,000 polygons, while each face is capable numerous expressions to convey their emotions. One niggle I had with the graphics is the texturing on the faces. Some people, such as Charlie, look splendid while Mike Hammond's texturing looks somewhat off colour and unrealistic.

Special mention must be made of the tremendous cut scenes used through the game to flesh out the storyline. In all the developers have created over and hours cut scenes to view.The developers have even used new motion capturing technology so that instead of the white balls on a single actor they used magnets on up to five actors at once for more realistic interaction between people. Much has been made of the Australian game having 20 seconds removed from a "torture scene". I don't know the exact details of the scene referred to but I believe it may be one in which a man is being given electric shocks. My review copy is the uncensored version of the game, but let me tell you the scenes missing would be absolutely minimal as you don't see too much of what is happening anyway. So you can rest easy.

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Time to run Mike Hammond.
To put it simply the sound in The Getaway is stunning. First mention must go to the voice acting. Although not using well-known Hollywood actors, each of the voices used in this game is terrific. Charlie has a deep husky voice giving an impression of someone who takes no crap, while Mark Hammond has the voice of a man out for revenge. The action is also backed by some wonderful music created by a Grammy Award winner. Sound effects are also very well done with splendid car engines and crashes, as well as plenty of gunshots to keep you on the edge of your seat. The only real improvements to the sound could have been the implementation of some form of Surround Sound as is becoming more common these days.

It's clear to see how much inspiration for this game came from movies such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, not only in the levels of violence and swearing, but also the music, graphic style, and characters. That's not to say it's a bad thing, far from it. The Getaway pushes the boundaries in so many ways that Sony and Team Soho must be commended for their efforts. With a little more refining however this game could have been a classic, but the camera angles, lack of weapons and controls hold it back a little. Still this game must be highly recommended as it is engrossing and will have you hooked. Just don't give it to your Grandma for Christmas.

GRAPHICSDriving sections are stunning, camera problems in third person.
SOUNDTerrific voice acting, terrific music, terrific sound effects. Terrific.
GAMEPLAYDriving sections are terrific, action sections needed more refining.
VALUE24 missions with two different characters, free roaming mode is great.
OVERALLIt's a little on the short side, but the graphics will have your jaw hit the floor. If swearing, shooting cops, running over bystanders, and flying blood don't offend, then this is the game for you. Is The Getaway better then GTA: Vice City? That's a tough question. Get them both.

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