Review by owenstrong

"Max Payne Meets Driver"

Technically, this is a ground breaking PS2 title. This is by far and away the best looking PS2 title yet seen. However, it is not by any stretch of the imagination a new or innovative title. Once you've got over the splender of the graphics engine, the basic premise is a conglomeration of Driver and Max Payne. That is, you drive from one location to another (the Driver bit) and then blast/sneek your way round a building (the Max Payne bit). It's great fun, so here's a better break down of it's constituent parts.

Graphics 9/10
This really is the best non pre-rendered PS2 title yet seen. About 28 square miles of Central London have been mapped into the game and can be driven around with NO loading. When you enter the one of the few buildings in the game, once again no loading takes place. The whole city is constantly being streamed off the disk. It's really a technical tour-de-force and almost makes my X-BOX cough in surprise (almost). If you don't know London at all then it might not be quite as impressive, but if you do it's quite gobsmacking seeing all the buildings you now. The variety of textures is just stunning.
There are also loads of licensed cars from Fiat, Renault, Nission and Lexus and MG/Rover, but quite a lot of other big names are conspicuous by their absence (Ford, BNW etc).

Sound 5/10
This is one probably the biggest disappointment in the game. The cut-scenes are well implemented (if rather cheesy) but the actual in game sound is extremely sparse. NPCs have a very limited set of phrases and they get to be a bit tiring very quickly. Also, there only seems to be one engine sample ! and this is just played back at different frequencies depending on what car you are in, so all vehicles sound pretty much identical. I can only assume that this is due to memory limitations of the PS2.

Gameplay 6/10
As I said earlier, once the splendor of the graphics have been digested, The Getaway is actually a very simple game split into two parts driving and shooting. The driving sections are quite fun. You don't have a map (or any other screen info) and indicators flash on the back of the vehicle to inform you of which road to take to get to your destination. If you take a wrong turn, it doesn't matter because the games just takes this into account. It's a bit like GPS system in a real car (only without the voice).
On route you will usually be chased/attacked by the Police and/or gangs.
Once you get to your destination the game then basically becomes Max Payne where you have to blast/sneek your way through the baddies.
You get to play as two characters. For the first half of the game you are playing as hood called Hammond. He's had his kid taken by a gang boss and he basically runs you round town getting you to do his dirty work. Then for the second half of the game, you play as a renegade cop named Carter.
Generally things are great fun but there are quite a few niggles. First of all, the character can't turn on the spot. He has to work in a little circle, this can by the cause of major headaches, especially in one level where you have to negotiate a building full of laser trip wires who has a habit of walking through ALL the trip wires in a room simply trying to turn round. Then in the next moment you can perform a roll (to go under a laser) and even though you rolled through the wire, because you are in a roll, the trip wire is not set off ! It's very badly implemented and it's hard to believe that Sony allowed a game developed internally to be released with these sort of play mechanics.
Shooting people is pretty simple, R1 targets an enemy (square to fire) whilst holding the R2 button allows you to manually aim. Generally, things work pretty well, but on occasions, the system gets confused and will target someone miles away and will totally ignore the bloke stand next to you who is merely blowing chunks out of you with a shotgun.
The manual aim doesn't really work too well, simply because you aren't given a sight. This means you tend to waste quite a lot of ammo using the manual aim. Whilst I appreciate that the developers were trying to create a film like experience by not having any normal game info on screen, if I were firing a real gun (or even a gun in a film) I would look down the sight of the gun to see what I was aiming at. I wouldn't be standing 10 feet behing myself looking over my own shoulder ! Would it have been so hard for the developers to allow a crosshair to appear ?
Once a level has been completed it becomes free to be played again. Why can't all games developers implement this ? It's great to be able to go back and play your favourite level in a game, well done Team Soho !
Unfortunately, they then commit the cardinal sin of NOT allowing you to skip the cut-scenes ! Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!!!
Why wasn't this picked up in play testing !?!?! Why do developers still keep releasing games where you can't skip cut-scenes ??? As you can't save a level until it's complete, if you keep coming back to a level (you know, because you have to go out etc) then you have to sit through the cut-scene again ! and some of them are pretty long. Personally, I find this the single most annoything thing in a game. Sort it out guys !!! Play your own games !!! Any playtesters please note, the rest of us have day jobs, we don't sit there from 9 till 5 playing a game in one go and even when we do have all day sessions, little things like the the wife/girlfriend/kids etc needing to be taken somewhere, results in stop start games playing.
On several of the levels it's not made very clear what it is you are supposed to do which can be a bit frustrating. For example, when playing as DC Carter, you have to chase after a Range Rover. At no point are you told that you have to ram the Range Rover off the road and that only it's to the front and side count and that if you don't complete it before it gets to street X then you have failed the mission. You are informed that you lost the vehicle, even though it's directly infront of you !!!!
Sorry but that sucks as game design big style.
It has to be said that the driving missions become a bit of chore. The police and gangster cars have no intelligence and always behave in a pre-determnined manner. Thus there isn't any real skill involved in avoiding them. Just hit the breaks, the police/gangster car handbreaks in front of you, drive around them and repeat about 20 times until you reach your destinations. It just becomes a test of your staying power rather than driving skills. Considering the amount of effort that has been put into the game engine it's a bit silly that enemy A.I. is so poor that it makes the driving sections a chore.

Replayability 3/10
Once you have completed all the missions you unlock a 'free roam' mode where you get to drive around London without being hasled. This is only of novelty value as there's nothing really to do.
It's nice being able to repeat your favourite missions, but once again this novelty soon wears off as the there is absolutely no inteligence to the enemy A.I.

Overall 7/10
This is definately worthy of your attention. Graphically it's amazing and it's damn good fun to play on the whole (certainlly I couldn't put it down until I'd finished it) aside from a few issues that should have been picked up before release (pre-chrimbo rush release anyone ?)
As a game it's good rather than great. Personally I'd recommend that you rent it rather than buy, however, as BT have thrown a wobbly over the use of their logo, and will now not feature in any future prints of the game, I'm happy to hang on to my copy rather than trade it in. You never know, it might be worth something (yeah right ! mine and the other 250,000 copies sold so far !!)

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/06/03, Updated 01/06/03

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