The Getaway

“Hey, Wanker!”

In the early to mid-2000s, many video game developers produced GTA clones after the monstrous success of GTA III. Some producers blatantly ripped off GTA while others took the model and added their own bells and whistles to the newly created genre. Developer Team SoHo and publisher Sony Computer Entertainment released “The Getaway” in 2003 for the PlayStation 2. Placing the game in the back alleys of London, you’ll take control of two separate characters. Mark Hammond, an ex-gangster who has been forced to return to crime to rescue his son, and Frank Carter, an elite police officer who is trying to bring down the mega crime organizations that have been running rampant. Does The Getaway earn some respect or is it just another cheap GTA clone?

The Getaway will give you two different perspectives on the overall plot. The first twelve missions you’ll play as Mark Hammond, a father, and a husband who has left his former gang to start an honest life after years of being in organized crime. This doesn’t last long as about three months after Hammond has gone legit, a rival crime lord sends his goons to kidnap Hammond’s wife and child. The kidnapping goes wrong and Hammond’s wife is shot and killed. The thugs are successful in stealing Hammond’s son, Alex, and stuff him in the back of their car before driving off.

Hammond comes storming down from their apartment and gives chase following the gang to their hideout where he is bopped over the head and placed in front of crime lord, Charlie Jolson, a wrinkly cigar-smoking psychopath. Charlie informs Hammond that if he ever wants to see his son alive again that he’ll have to work for him doing various missions. Furious but desperate, Hammond agrees and begins to do insane tasks like busting out members of Charlie’s gang from prison vans, heading to the police station to assassinate police chiefs, and shooting up his former gang and friends.

During these missions, Hammond knows he can’t keep this up forever and that it’s only a matter of time before he is killed so he calls his buddy that is in his former gang and asks for help. His friend while reluctant to believe Hammond begins investigating Charlie’s overall plan. Hammond continues to do hits on rival gangs including the Chinese, and the Yardies. One mission sends Hammond to the police station to kill the police chief who has been working for Charlie and an assassin named Yasmin who helped kill Hammond’s wife. Hammond decides to spare Yasmin and the two work together to take down Charlie.

They eventually get captured and are imprisoned in Charlie’s underground warehouse. This is where Frank Carter comes to the rescue to bust them out. Carter was an elite police officer who has been suspended from the force for being too reckless while investigating a little too close to the police chief. The three of them meet up on Charlie’s large cargo ship. Hammond and Yasmin search for Alex, while Carter tries to bring down Charlie.

At the center of the boat, Hammond and Yasmin are held at gunpoint by numerous gangs all wanting a piece of him. Hammond explains everything and after a vote, the gangs decide to let him and his son go as they would have done the same for their families. Meanwhile, Carter is holding Charlie at gunpoint in front of all the gangs. Being a cop, the gangs are far less forgiving and want him dead. They decide to take out Carter and Charlie but just as they start shooting Charlie pulls out a detonator to multiple explosives rigged throughout his vessel. Carter makes a run for it as do the other gangs. Charlie begins singing the British anthem (maybe?) and pulls the trigger sending the ship up in explosions. Hammond, Yasmin, and Alex watch from the dock and Carter barely escapes with his life as he jumps off the deck and into the water just as the ship explodes.

There isn’t any closure to the end of the game, however, and you’ll just have to assume that Carter lives and that Hammond and Alex escape from London without any troubles.

For a PlayStation 2 game, The Getaway is superb in the presentation and voice-acting. Every cutscene plays out like a scene from a movie, the character models all move smoothly as their voice actors give a great performance. The developers may have been a little too proud of their work because you can’t skip the cutscenes even after you’ve seen them, which can get annoying as some of them can take up to five minutes.

I’ve never been to London, but I think they did a good job of developing the city with various landmarks around the city. You’ll see the signature taxis and double-decker red buses driving around and overall the city feels big. Overall, they make London cloudy and gray, I would have liked to see a change in weather at some point during play, maybe a sunny day or maybe a mission at night.

There are two elements to missions, driving, and shootouts. The driving segment of missions takes too long. Especially when you are playing as Hammond, these driving segments can be frustrating. The car controls adequately for the most part and the navigation system of having you follow your blinker signals was genius, but this part of the game didn’t come across as fun. It felt like I was driving for five to ten minutes just to get to a warehouse with rival gang members and police cars chasing me the entire time. Some glitches occurred occasionally like watching rival cars go full speed through light poles but for the most part, the game kept up with the speed of the chases. The Getaway has a lot of realistic aspects including damage to vehicles. You can pop your tires by running over police spikes or from being shot by rival gangs. Bullet holes will show through the back window in the exact location of where they hit and after a few shots, the back window will shatter. While these segments weren’t fun, they at least looked good.

Once you reached your destination there would usually be a shoot out that followed. I didn’t know there was an auto-aim until I started playing with Frank Carter so for the first half of the game, I beat every mission using manual aim which made the game incredibly hard but even more impressive that I got through it. Thank God there was an auto-aim because this game is tough with all the thugs they throw at you. You’ll be able to double-wield pistols and pick up shotguns, machine guns, and sub-machines. You’ll get shot a lot but don’t worry, just rest against the wall and watch the blood on your clothes disappear as you recover. Combat was more fun than driving, but it still was difficult. There was one mission where you had to infiltrate a police station that took me at least ten times to beat. It was very frustrating in part because of the cover mechanics. Pressing “x” will make you take cover by a wall but it is also the button to “roll” making Hammond or Carter harder to hit. I died numerous times because they stupidly stuck to the wall instead of rolling away from the gunfire. Perhaps the thing I hated the most was the fact that police could arrest you if they got behind you. Hammond will give up if a cop runs up behind him and I screamed at the television numerous times because of this and the poor controls.

Back in the glory days of my childhood, I was subscribed to the official PlayStation Magazine. I was so excited every month to receive the magazine not only because it was amazing content but because it came with a demo disc of all the upcoming games. There were numerous games I asked my dad for strictly based on my experience of playing them on the demo disc. One of those games was The Getaway, which I came away impressed with as a kid.

It was way too violent and way too vulgar for a 12-year old but thankfully my dad didn’t know too much about it. On Valentine’s Day, we were at Best Buy as my dad always went there to look at the music CDs, remember those? While he looked at the newest releases I was in the video game section. I picked out The Getaway and asked him for it. Since it was Valentine’s Day, he thought it would make a good gift for me. After all, nothing says “I Love You” like murdering countless naughty Brits in the streets of London.

The game was fairly hard for me and I probably only beat the first few missions before giving up. Thankfully there was a cheat code that allowed you just to drive around in the game and have fun causing chaos. I remember spending time finding the hidden supercars around London and driving them before forgetting about this game until I properly reviewed it.

The Getaway looks amazing as you cause chaos on the streets of London. The acting, presentation, and bullet mechanics all come together to present a game that is visually very appealing on the PS2. Unfortunately, poor gameplay controls and missions that just aren’t fun can sour the taste of The Getaway. It separates itself from GTA clones and earns some respect. Definitely pick it up if you get the chance but don’t be surprised if you get a bit frustrated during your playthrough.

The Getaway scores a 7.6 out of 10.

Do you remember when The Getaway first came out? Did you understand all the insults being hurled at you? Who did you like playing as more? What did you think of the story and overall plot? What was your favorite car to drive? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.

If you’d like to own a copy of The Getaway, you can purchase a used copy of it for the PS2 for $10 on eBay.

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