The Getaway - PS2 Review

February 3, 2003

The Getaway is an odd duck of a game. In that it tries so hard to not be a game. Which is a stupid goal, really, because no matter what it does, it IS a game. If you're at all familiar with the game you know what I am talking about.

The game is, for the most part as "realistic" as possible. There's no health bars, car damage gauges, target sights or any of that good stuff. There's just you and London. And the story of course. But see, already this doesn't all mesh together. As a person who lives in London, the character should be able to find his way around with no problem, but You as the player have no idea how to get around London. The game's solution is to have your car's signal lights go off in the direction you're supposed to turn. But driving for endless minutes at a time with your left blinker going off doesn't make the player feel like a gangster, more like a granny. The hazards go off when you should stop. Sometimes. Other times the hazards go off when you are near something and you should keep driving straight. Wouldn't it be better to not have the hazards go off at all in those situations? And woe is you if your rear tail lights get smashed. If the creators goal was to make the game as immersive as possible, why is there no in first person perspective while driving. Giving the option to change views would be acknowdgeing that this game is a game I guess. Without a choice in camera angles, you can never see the hood of your car, so you never know how damaged it is until it starts smoking. ALso, there is no way to see behind your car. Putting a rear view mirror window somewhere on the screen would ruin the illusion. See how this whole idea keeps shooting the game in the foot?

Speaking of which: the on foot portions of the game are not much better. In many ways, it handles even worse. Switching from running forward to walking backwards is not something this game likes. In most cases you simply keep going forward. Which makes the "stealth" levels that much more fun. Why does every game these days have to have a stealth level? But that's a rant for another day. And there's still so much more to rant about in this game. The X button does just about everything. But not in a good way. More in a Jack of all trades master of none kind of way. Say you're in a fire fight and want to roll out of the way of a guy who's trying to cold-cock you with his gun, you hit the X button. But what if you'd rather use him as a human shield? X again. See how there might be a problem there? Even more annoying is the fact that the circle button goes unused which would have eliminated the problem entirely.

The aesthetics of this game are, appropriately enough, a mixed bag. The "acting" by the characters during the cinematics is impressive, there are nuances in there that show an attention to detail that is lacking in the rest of the game. A weird thing about the cinemas is the fact that all the character's faces look like they don't belong on their bodies. There's a noticeable difference in detail. Like a color body on a black and white body. The city is, by all accounts, incredibly accurate. Photorealistic almost. Not that that really helps the game all that much. There are huge sections of the map that you'll never visit and only serve to make the game world seem bigger than it really is. The audio is top notch. I've always been a sucker for hard bitten Brit dialogue and this game has it in spades. There is more swearing in this game than in a street fight between two guys with Touretts. Hearing some random person yell "Fuckin'ell!" as you nearly smash into them redeems this game quite a bit in my books. The music is fantastic as well, it really helps move both the story and the action along. The only nit I can pick about the sound in this game is the fact that both of the main characters breathe way too loudly way too often. Like a couple of asthmatic mouth breathers.

The script and the story are the supposed saving graces of this game. I say supposed because I never finished the game, so I don't know how it all ends. There's a chance that it all turns to crap near the end like Metal Gear Solid, but that seems unlikely. The story is fairly basic, but the telling of it is quite well done. The accents add a lot. Hearing passing motorists yell "Fucking 'ell!" as you almost run them off the road redeems this game a fair bit in my books. The only minor drawback is that the characters repeat themselves every once in a while.

"Why don't you lie low?"

"I'd love to but he's got me right where he wants me."

"Oh. Right. So why don't you lie low then?"

"I'd love to but he's got me right where he wants me."

That's paraphrased of course but not as much as you might suspect. That being said, the story and the cinemas are easily the highlight of the game. It's what compelled my brother to play through the whole game. I didn't. The story shouldn't be what keeps you playing the game, the GAME should be.

- Tyler