The Getaway: Black Monday Review

PlayStation 2

December 4, 2004 by

The Getaway: Black Monday Image

The Getaway was first considered to be the London version of the popular Grand Theft Auto series. Providing an amazing accurate recreation of London, the game took players in both action and driving forms throughout the series in both prominent and unknown locations. The game offered an interesting storyline that kept players motivated, however the awful controls and gameplay almost destroyed everything positive about the title. Developer Team Soho has returned with the sequel, offering some slight enhancements in the control aspects as well as a brand-new storyline on offer better than those found in the Grand Theft Auto series. However, a number of graphical bugs and frustrating controls makes The Getaway: Black Monday an extremely frustrating game to play.

Set two years after the events that occurred in the original The Getaway, you once again play as numerous characters throughout the course of the game, displaying the storyline from different views. You begin the game playing as Sergeant Mitchell, who returns to the Metropolitan police force after shooting a teenager in the back during a raid. Your first job upon returning to the force is to raid a block of flats where expected drug dealing is taking place. However, everything turns nasty and results in a chase along rooftops and plenty of killing. You are then thrown into the role of boxer Eddie OConnor: a bank robber whose life is turned upside-down after another gang murders his team. With only a teenage girl left to help, Sam, it is up to Eddie to re-establish his life, find who done the killings and make some money along the way.

The strongest positive of The Getaway: Black Monday is the unique and interesting storyline. Always changing, the storyline rarely gets boring and offers plenty driving and shooting. At times you will be required to murder an entire building of guards, or participate in a chase sequence to stop a dangerous criminal. At other times you are required to use stealth to evade a band of armed police officers.

Black Monday offers three different types of gameplay: on-foot action, stealth and driving. In order to progress through to a new chapter, you are often required to travel throughout London to reach the location, allowing players to explore the city in-between missions. Offering a variety of vehicles, such as your average family sedan, sports cars, a range of different motorbikes, vans and even pushbikes makes the driving sequences interesting, as you are able to drive any vehicle you please. Although the driving controls have been slightly tweaked over its predecessor, most cars continue to control terribly. Turning slightly often results in the car doing a complete 360 spin, an occasion that is frustrating when you have a time limit to stick to. During chase missions, both the police and members of gun-wielding gangs, who somehow have obtained the ability to reach high speeds within a second, often pursue you. Apart from these problems, the driving aspects of the game are the easiest to control and contain less-frustrating problems than those that are found in the on-foot missions. The action chapters are generally straightforward: kill everyone in sight, move on into the next area and repeat, until the chapter finally finishes with a cutscene. The simple requirements found here allow almost anyone to pick up and understand exactly how to play, however, the difficult controls prevent this from being an enjoyable experience. The stealth modes, although dont appear very often throughout the course of the game, quickly become a frustrating experience. The extremely poor controls once again prevents players from turning quickly or even running in the correct direction, often causing you to be caught by patrolling guards.

The camera presents some frustrating problems. First, developer Team Soho still refuses to allow the player to freely control the camera. Instead, you are limited to moving the camera from side to side behind the character something that doesnt exactly help. In a game like The Getaway, a free roam camera would do a world of wonders to enhance the gameplay. Another problem with the camera is that it will often become stuck behind an object or go through a wall. Having the camera become locked behind an object during a shootout presents a rage of controller-throwing anger as you repeatedly die due to the poor camera work. Although not directly responsible for the camera, however closely related is the inaccurate auto-target feature. It often takes several attempts for the auto-target to acknowledge a nearby enemy, or simply target to another one in the distance that isnt of any threat. This is yet another problem that causes unnecessary deaths and injuries due to the control and camera schemes.

Further deadening the ordinary and frustrating gameplay, missions are often poorly explained, resulting in you chasing after someone in a car or clearing a group of buildings without knowing why. A quick sentence in the menu is often the only explanation of what you are required to do, rarely giving any specifics or how the missions should be overcome. Considering that Black Monday is heavily focused on an engaging storyline, participating in missions that you know little about quickly becomes confusing and useless.

In an attempt to further increase the lifespan of Black Monday, developer Team Soho has added several additional game modes. Race allows you to choose from a variety of tracks to race against a number of competitors in a range of vehicles. As you progress through placing first in races, you unlock further tracks to compete in. Black Cab allows you to make a living by taking passengers to their destination in an extremely slow-moving taxi within a set time limit, with little to no enjoyment in doing so. Chase allows you to take control of the wheel and chase down criminals in vehicles, similar to the chapters that are found in the story mode and, therefore, already experienced and of little additional value. Finally, Free Roaming gives you the opportunity to choose a player from the game and then roam freely around London killing, stealing and destroying at your own free will, however doing so will attract the attention of local police officers.

Whilst driving through the streets of London, the accurate recreation of the buildings is quite impressive. Although they dont offer high-quality detail when compared to other games of this generation, the buildings generally look great from a distance. Authentic, licensed vehicles roam the streets offering decent detail, however many appear to be blockier than what they actually are in real life. The damage effects on cars is quite poor when compared to todays games, with dints looking like the car has simply been compacted. Once the game comes indoors, however, the details and clearness of your surroundings greatly drops. Everything inside offers very limited, ordinary detail that is quite blurry. Apart from the walls, most rooms contain little to no objects, making London feel more like a ghost town.

The facial animation is quite impressive. Mouths, eyes and cheeks move appropriately, often looking close to realistic. The rest of the body, on the other hand, including the hair looks appalling. Very blurry with little detail, the characters body, like the cars, looks blocky and moves unrealistic.

There are aspects of Black Monday that look great, namely the exterior of the city and facial features, however almost everything else offers little details and looks too blurry for a game to be released in this current generation.

Offering some of the most swearing found in a game for some time, Black Monday isnt for those who are easily offended by inappropriate language. Although this may sound off-putting to begin with, it is worth noting that The Getaway series is aimed at adults, therefore, the swearing suits not only suits the targeted age group, but also work appropriately with the storyline, although there are occasions when a certain word is used repeatedly for little reason. The voice acting, which is heard during cut scenes and in-game, sounds great and suits the characters perfectly.

Sound effects, on the other hand, are weak and poor. Guns dont sound as heavy as they should; cars sound weak and smash effects very basic. The music is also basic, sometimes suiting the gameplay whilst at other times serving as no addition to the gameplay.

The Getaway: Black Monday could have been so much more. A compelling, interesting storyline is in place, however the extremely poor, frustrating controls and camera work, as well as the boring missions, quickly results in lost of interest. It takes several hours of gameplay before you are likely to become interested at all in the game; the first two missions feel very unpolished and the control scheme doesnt help this. Hopefully Team Soho takes notice of all the problems with Black Monday, and provides us with a more solid, polished action game next time.

Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.