Review By: J.
There are rules
to making games. Itís true. You may not realize it, but when
creating a game there are certain guidelines that always should be
followed. Chief among them is the concept that fun should never be
sacrificed for realism. Even in the most "realistic" game,
concessions are made to ere in favor of playability. Someone,
however, forgot to tell Sonyís Team SOHO this while they were
making The Getaway. They decided to keep things
"realistic" even at the cost of the gameís playability.
The result is a game that is fun to watch, but not nearly as fun to
play. You will still enjoy most of The Getaway despite this
fact, though, you just wonít enjoy it as much as you could have if
some key issues were addressed.
revolves around a series of events seen from two very different
perspectives. The first is from the eyes of one Mark Hammond as he
goes on a series of suicide missions at the behest of a lunatic mob
boss who uses Hammondís kidnapped son as a bargaining chip. After
you complete the game with Hammond you get to play as a renegade
police officer by the name of Frank Carter who must clean up after
Mark, Londonís newest most wanted criminal, while trying to nick
the crime lord barking orders at good old "Marky-boy".
enjoy anything in The Getaway, youíll enjoy this story.
This is one of the first action games I have ever seen that is
carried more by the story and overall experience than the gameplay.
It is almost like a Final Fantasy game in this respect. Itís
got the style of a BMW
film, the dialogue of a Lock, Stock,
and Two Smoking Barrels (although I promise to keep my Guy
Ritchie references down to a bare minimum), and the kind of acting
quality only real professionals can bring to the table. Cooler still
is how the two stories compliment each other and intersect at
points. You will be able to see the correlation between events in
Carterís game and the events in Hammondís game and vice versa.
For example, one of Markís earlier missions requires you to break
a man by the name of Jake Jolson out of prison. After you complete
the game and start over as Frank your very first mission will be the
one that landed Jolson in prison in the first place. Its little
touches like this that keep you smiling, and keep you playing, from
start to finish. The story is just so well thought out and well
written that you donít care how linear it makes the gameplay.
Kudos to Team SOHO for enlisting the help of professionals while
inking the script and recording the cut scenes, hereís hoping more
developers follow suit.
Some will find
the game offensive, though, and not just because of the violent
content and foul language, but for the racism. Iím sure there is
nothing personal intended by the slew of ethnic slurs and derogatory
names given to just about even nationality in the game, but some may
not like hearing the term "jungle-bunny" or
"gook" said during every other dialogue exchange. You have
to consider, though, that low-life criminal scum arenít the most
racially tolerant of people, and that in real life theyíd probably
say that and a whole lot more. Just be warned, though, that it is in
the game and it may rub you the wrong way.
to detail was place on keeping the gameplay as realistic as
possible, in both look and feel, so that players can loose
themselves in the neo-noir of it all, not just during the cut scenes
and snippets of dialogue, but during the gameplay itself. This,
however, is where the game begins to stumble. Team SOHO was pretty
successful in "keeping it real", but not always with
positive results. For example, to keep everything with a
"cinematic" look, Team SOHO decided to remove all
indicators from the screen. This isnít anything new to gaming, so
its not like this should be a big deal. So thereís no health bar,
so what? Well, considering that the majority of the game involves
driving to locations youíve yet to visit, and unless you are a
Londoner, have no idea how to get to, youíll have to find your way
to them without the aid of a map. The game does have a
pseudo-navigation system involving blinking taillights, and they
will get you to your destinationÖ eventually. Youíll be lead
around in circles most of the time and have to take to
loooooooooooooooong route to just about everywhere. Some sort of
map, ANY sort of map, would have allowed players to decide for
themselves which would be the best, fastest, and most direct route
to any given location, even if it was just a Silent Hill 2
style paper map you access through the pause screen.
in which realism over playability wasnít a wise choice was in
character movement. Your characters move at normal speed, which in
the gaming world is a bit too slow. They jog slowly, they reload
slowly, they pick up weapons slow, they duck and roll and hide
behind objects slowly, and lets not even talk about how slowly they
move once they are severely injured. Sure, real people donít move
as fast as Tommy Vercetii, but it would have been nice to at least
add a sprint button or something that could give you short bursts of
speed every now and then. I doubt anyone would have complained about
the characters running "too fast" and how it ruined the
believability of the game. And besides, I think it would have been
MORE realistic to make them move faster during certain situations.
For example, if 15 enraged Jamaican crack heads are shooting at me
from every angle, I donít care how out of breath I am, Iím not
going to mince around at my normal, everyday, walking speed.
the only hindrance to movement either. The controls in general feel
twitchy and under-responsive. Your character never does exactly what
you want him to do and you never feel like you are fully in control
of his actions. This especially becomes a problem in the more tight
spaces. You can press left on the analog stick, and because of where
he is or the position of the camera, he will move right, or forward,
or backwards, you never know. Then the camera (which canít be
controlled or effectively repositioned in any way) will shift and
cause him to move in a totally different direction, despite the fact
that all you did was pressed left. You will also encounter similar
problems while trying to hug walls or walk with hostages. There are
also a few other, minor problems that further hurt controls, but not
enough to really get into here, just be prepared to spend as much
time fighting with these controls as fighting with thugs and police
officers. Overall the controls feel sloppy and rushed, like no time
at all was put into making them intuitive or functional at all.
As you may
already know, gameplay in The Getaway is broken up into two
forms: driving and on foot. The driving portion operates much like a
Grand Theft Auto game: you can jump in and out of any car at
any time. Unlike a GTA, however, the driving physics are very
realistic and so is the damage. What does this mean to gameplay? It
means that you wonít be hitting barrel rolls or flying around
corners at 60 MPH. You also will have to change cars much more
frequently than in GTA, or at least become a better driver.
For the most part driving feels like Gran Turismo, but with
traffic. This isnít necessarily a bad thing, in fact it feels
pretty cool after a while because youíll discover it takes some
real skill to drive like you're in an action film, it just takes
some serious getting us to. Youíll also have to get use to obeying
traffic laws again, and particularly British traffic laws. This isnít
the lawless Vice City; the moment you drive against traffic or jump
a curb in view of "the filth" (better known as
"pigs" here in the States) they will have the sirens
blaring and a full-scale police chase on.
portion of the game is sort of hit and miss. As previously stated,
the movement and camera hurts it a lot, but there is also some
enjoyment to be had from during a 180 slide stop in the middle of a
busy intersection, jumping out of your smoking Skyline, grabbing a
passer by, using them as a human shield while you trade a few rounds
with perusing police officers or gang members, than jump into a
Lexus and driving off. Too bad not all of the on foot action is as
fun. The missions that try to rely on stealth, or force you to spend
too much time on foot, simply draw attention to the control issues
and bad camera. Basically, its only fun to be on foot for a few
minutes at a time. Anything after that and its enjoyment wears thin.
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