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The Getaway | review | game | Lollipop
(Sony for PS2)
by Eric Chon
Many games try to create cinematic experiences on par with Hollywood, usually with less than desirable results. You either get too much movie and a not enough "game," the playable portion being as interactive as, say... hitting a button to jump over stuff, or a horrible mish-mash that creates a negative fun-factor, causing pain and anguish in all who play. And since many games never get the budget or the writers a good story deserves, it's generally a bad idea.
Enter Sony Entertainment and The Getaway. One of the most expensive games produced, Sony billed The Getaway as the first complete movie-game experience. It has great technology (for a PS2 game), mapping faces and mouth-movements to dialogue. It has a completely rendered and accurate layout of London. It has top-notch voice talent and Guy Ritchie-quality dialogue. And it has gameplay close to the wildly popular Grand Theft Auto 3 (although without the tongue-in-cheek humor). While not the runaway success as the hype would have you believe, The Getaway approaches the concept in the correct way and does many things right.
While many games have decent stories (and The Getaway is no exception), much of the desire to play is halted with poor voice-acting. This is the major bonus of having Sony as your backer: You can hire the good talent. Voices are excellent, and they really get you into the mood. Characters are acted so well that I had a palpable hatred for some. Palpable. Couple that with wonderful motion-capture and you ARE watching a movie, only you're the one pulling the trigger and running over people in your car.
Speaking of which, the game uses real cars, and they drive like the real thing. I expected Sony to have this down, since they also produced the hyper-realistic Gran Turismo series. There's a huge variety of cars to choose from and while collision physics are fairly arcadey (is that even a word?), they're real enough to keep things from becoming an Acme affair. Add a stirring soundtrack and you have yourself a winner, right?
Well, partly right... While I sing these praises like a gospel choir, something always keeps a game from ascending to the almighty.
Despite the wonderful bits of driving (wreaking havoc and causing chaos along the way), there are many segments that have you on foot. And this is where frustration kicks in, because the control scheme is wacky as all get out. You have a host of moves to choose from (ducking, peeking, rolling, etc.), but they're very difficult to transition into. Sure, it's easy to duck, but then to roll and stand up, you have to stand up first, then roll, then stand up again. But God forbid you're near a wall, because if you put your back to it and someone is standing IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE, you can't shoot them until you stop butt-hugging that fucking wall. I almost had to buy a new controller after pounding mine into the ground because of this.
So, what you get is a very fun and incredibly entertaining game... about half of the time. The other half causes endless frustration and anger as you shake your head in stupefied disbelief. Is it worth it? Does the good outweigh the bad? Yes. It's not a game to be taken lightly, you have to work hard to get ahead in it. Very hard. But the rewards are priceless. While playing The Getaway, I felt like a movie-star. Maybe you will, too.