The Getaway (video game)
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European cover art
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Designer(s)||Chun Wah Kong|
Ravinder S Ruprai
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, Grand Theft Auto clone|
The Getaway is an action-adventure open world video game developed by Team Soho and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. The Getaway is the first in the series and is said to have been inspired by British gangland films Get Carter and Snatch. Initially, the release of the game was to coincide with the launch of the PlayStation 2 in 2000, but was delayed by 27 months due to the difficulty of re-creating large areas of London in high resolution.
The game focuses on two characters each with their own plot settings, being an ex-bank robber, Mark Hammond and a police officer in service with the Flying Squad, Detective Constable Frank Carter with both plots running parallel and intersecting before concluding in the finale of the game. A sequel entitled The Getaway: Black Monday was released in 2004.
The Getaway is designed as a third-person sandbox-style game in which the player controls the two lead characters as they carry out their missions for game progression. Both of the two characters can perform a series of physical tasks, such as walking, sprinting, rolling, shooting and taking cover during a gunfight. Once Mark Hammond's missions are completed free roaming is unlocked for his character, free roaming allows the player to roam around the City district and Central London without mission objectives or time-limits.
The game features a number of licensed vehicles from real automobile manufacturers that the player can control, unlike those seen in the Grand Theft Auto series which are fictional. The majority of the vehicles in the game are made by MG Rover Group, Jensen Motors, Saab, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Fiat and Lexus along with a number of others. Firearms and weapons available to the player include the Glock 17 pistol, the AK-47 assault rifle, Remington 870 pump-action shotgun and the Heckler & Koch MP5 sub machine gun, other weapons include a meat cleaver and crowbar among others.
A major feature in the game was its approach to immersion and being "movie like", achieved mostly by not including the typical HUD; such as with car chases being done by signaling the player with the vehicles turn signals, rather than a large arrow above the car or the player characters limping or bleeding profusely to represent low health instead of a health bar/meter.
The first twelve missions of the game follows the fictional story of Mark Hammond (Don Kembry), an ex-member of the Soho-based "Collins Crew" who has recently been released from prison after serving a sentence for armed robbery. Soon after being released, Hammond witnesses his wife being shot and killed and his son, Alex, being kidnapped by a gang known as the "Bethnal Green Mob", before rushing to his dying wife's aid who is lying on the pavement. Emotionally perturbed by the situation, Hammond inadvertently incriminates himself by picking up the firearm that killed his wife, leading the police and the public thinking that Hammond killed his wife and kidnapped his son for the rest of the game. After hearing his wife's dying words, Hammond chases the car carrying his son to a warehouse where he is ambushed by the boss of the "Bethnal Green Mob", Charlie Jolson (Ricky Hards) who is holding Hammond's son hostage. It later transpires that Jolson kidnapps Hammond's son as he knows that Hammond will do whatever is needed to be done in order to get his son back, which eventually equates to murdering police officers and starting a gang war between Jolson's rivals. If Hammond complies, he is promised his son's safe return. Charlie Jolson explains the "game" he intends to play with Mark:
|“||Let's play a little game. I ring you, you do the job. You don't do what I tell you, the kid dies. You don't do it when I tell you, the kid dies. You don't do it where I tell you, the kid dies. You talk to anyone, you're late, or you let me down, your kid dies! You getting my drift?||”|
Most of the missions that involve Hammond are made up of two elements, being driving and shooting. The chronologically ordered missions include Hammond burning down an establishment operated by his previous criminal employers, attacking the London branch of the 14K Triad and Yardies to entice a turf war between the two factions, ambushing a prison transport convoy to release Jolson's nephew, Jake Jolson (Dave Gold) and attacking Snow Hill Police Station to kill a corrupt Detective Chief Inspector, Clive McCormack and free Yasmin (Anna Edwards) from police custody, an ex-gang member of Jolson's who participated in the murder of Hammond's wife and kidnapping of his son,who then decides to leave Jolson and help Hammond find his son.
Subsequently, Hammond is captured by Jake Jolson after he infiltrates Charlie's warehouse in an attempt to locate his son and while in the process kills Sparky, a loyal member to Jolson. At the same time as Mark's capture, Yasmin's assassination attempt of Jolson is also inconsequential as she is captured while infiltrating Jolson's highly protected manor. Upon Hammond and Yasmin being reunited in a basement cell of Jolson's warehouse, they learn that they are bait in a scheme masterminded by Jolson to lure all the rival gangs in London to his ship, the Sol Vita at St. Saviour's Dock before blowing the ship up to wipe them all out. Frank Carter frees them and Hammond first goes to Jolson's house before learning his son is at the Sol Vita by Carter. There he and Yasmin kill Harry and Eyebrows respectively. They meet with Carter who states he killed Jake and find Mark's son. The three are forced into a Mexican standoff with the Collins, Yardies, and Triads holding the four and Charlie at gunpoint. Charlie at first lays the blame on Mark, but Carter and Yasmin are able to get Nick to let them go, explaining the story. Nick reasons with Lee and Jamahl to let him go, the latter even letting him keep £300,000. Mark tries to get Carter free but no one will release him. The last scene shows Mark, Yasmin and Alex leaving the Sol Vita as it explodes.
The second half of the game follows the story of a suspended and disgraced police officer, Detective Constable Frank Carter (Joe Rice) in service with the Flying Squad as he attempts to wipe out Jolson and his gang. Both stories take place parallel to each other causing Hammond and Carter to come into contact on several occasions. Carter's partner, DI Joe Fielding (Vic Robinson) is shot at the beginning of the game, leaving Carter alone and without armed assistance while on duty. Carter also reports to several disturbances that have been caused by the player as the character Mark Hammond, such as the Collins Crew establishment which Mark burned to the ground and Carter was escorting Jake Jolson before he was broken out by Hammond. Due to his "Rambo ways", Carter's superior officer, DCI Clive McCormack, suspends him pending investigation. While suspended, Carter grows skeptical of McCormack's integrity and covertly follows his boss to a depot operated by Jolson's Bethnal Green Mob. Using stealth tactics, Carter discovers McCormack's corrupt relationship with Charlie Jolson. Upon hearing that McCormack has ordered the assassination of his partner, Joe, Carter rushes to the hospital and adverts the attempted assassination. However he cannot clear his name as McCormack was just killed by Hammond. Joe gives him a new lead to follow up about the Jolsons (tax records). Carter then makes his way to Jolson's warehouse where he discovers Hammond and Yasmin locked in a cell. Firstly, he overhears Charlie talking to Harry and Jake about blowing up the other gangs on the ship. In particularly, Charlie explains how the bomb works that if you press the detonator, the timer counts down and if you release it, the bomb instantly explodes. Therefore, Frank is aware of Charlie's true intentions. After eavesdropping on Hammond discussing his dilemma to Yasmin, Carter decides to help Hammond by breaking him out of the cell and the two tenuously agree that Jolson is their respective target. Hammond and Yasmin escape the shipping warehouse and manage to infiltrate Jolson's highly secured manor to locate Alex. However, Alex is seen being driven away by some of Jolson's henchman, and Hammond and Yasmin take active pursuit.
Carter arrives at the Sol Vita before Hammond and tracks down and kills Jake Jolson. The game skips ahead to when Mark tries to get the gang to release Carter, but they refuse as he is a police officer, and Carter states he does not need Hammond's help. Charlie Jolson starts to rant how London was better when the mob ruled it, and hates the idea about the idea of Chinese and Black gangs, and a pornography ring are now in control of London. He goes mad, and activates the bomb while singing Land of Hope and Glory. All the gangs and Carter shoot at each other as they try to escape. However, in the final scene, Carter is able to leap off the Sol Vita as it explodes. (The sequel reveals that Nick Collins was killed, the Triads and Bethnel Green Mob were wiped out, and Jamahl escaped.)
- Mark Hammond – the main protagonist of the game. A former member of the Soho-based Collins Crew, Mark Hammond is a fugitive throughout the game wanted by both the police and gangsters for the suspected murder of his wife, Susie and kidnapping of his son, Alex, which was in fact orchestrated by Charlie Jolson. Voiced by Don Kembry.
- Frank Carter – the second main protagonist of the game. A Detective Constable serving with the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad unit, Carter's ambition is to destroy Jolson and his gang. However, Carter is suspended by his superior DCI McCormack as he is corrupt and helping Jolson. Voiced by Joe Rice.
- Charlie Jolson – the main antagonist of the game. An aging East End gangster and head of the Bethnal Green Mob, eventually blowing himself and rival gangs up in the finale of the game. Voiced by Ricky Hards.
- Yasmin – ex-gang member and prostitute working for Charlie Jolson's Bethnal Green Mob, eventually turns against her ex-boss and helps Mark Hammond locate his son. Voiced by Anna Edwards.
- Jake Jolson – nephew of Charlie Jolson and the heir to becoming the future boss of the Bethnal Green Mob. He is considered to be a 'psycho' and has a strong hatred of Frank Carter and Mark Hammond. Killed by Frank Carter on the Sol Vita. Voiced by Dave Golds.
- Harry – right-hand man of Charlie Jolson and he is often seen wielding a sawn-off shotgun throughout the game. Harry was involved in the kidnapping of Hammond's son and was assisted by Yasmin, Eyebrows and Grievous. He admits he is the one that shot Suzie Hammond. He hates Mark Hammond the most, even more than Jake and Charlie. Mark despises Harry after he found out the truth about his wife's death. Harry states that Suzie gave up singing to be with Hammond, suggesting he loved her, and killed her out of jealousy. He is later killed by Hammond aboard the Sol Vita avenging his wife. Voiced by Michael Preston.
- Eyebrows – one of Jake Jolson's close associates who is later killed by Yasmin aboard the Sol Vita. Voiced by Paul Burfoot.
- Grievous – a low-ranking member of the Bethnal Green Mob who later dies in the explosion aboard the Sol Vita. Voiced by Jim Darrah.
- Sparky – a close associate of Jake Jolson and is seen during the game to have a like for electrocuting people, such as a captured member of the Triads and is later killed by Hammond in the mission: 'A Cat in a Bag'. Voiced by Symond Lawes.
- Liam Spencer – a member of the Collins Crew and Hammond's best friend who helps him find his son. While aboard the Sol Vita when it exploded, Liam escaped. In the games sequel he is revealed to have died in the Shoreditch Massacre. Voiced by Paul Swaby.
- Nick Collins – head of the Collins Crew. During the finale of the game Collins agrees to let Hammond live despite the amount of men that have been killed by him on the condition that Hammond never returns to London, later dies in the explosion aboard the Sol Vita. Voiced by Russell Levy.
- Shan Chu Lee – head of the London-based section of the Triads and is later killed in the explosion aboard the Sol Vita. Voiced by Wai Tsang.
- Jamahl – head of the Yardie gang and survives the explosion aboard the Sol Vita. Voiced by Elwin 'Chopper' David.
- Clive McCormack – corrupt police officer and head of the Flying Squad, revealed to have been working with Jolson for ten years and is later killed by Hammond in Snow Hill Police Station on the order of Charlie Jolson. Voiced by Mick Oliver.
- Big Walter – a low-ranking member of the Bethnal Green Mob. Arrested or killed by Frank Carter inside UCL Hospital during the mission: 'Do the world a Favour'. Voiced by Jason Parker.
- Collins Crew – a Soho-based criminal organisation led by Nick Collins. After Nick's death aboard the Sol Vita, his brother Jimmer takes over as the boss, as seen in The Getaway: Black Monday. Collins bases include a restaurant on Frith Street and a strip club on Brewer Street. Their vehicles consist of blue and white Lexus SCs (2nd generation).
- 14K Triad – a Chinese organisation led by Shan Chu Lee and based in both Hyde Park and Chinatown. Shan Chu later dies in the game finale aboard the Sol Vita. Triad bases include an art gallery in Hyde Park and a Chinese restaurant on Gerrard Street. Their vehicles consist of green and purple modified Honda Civic coupes (7th generation) and black Nissan Skyline GT-Rs (4th generation).
- Bethnal Green Mob – led by Charlie Jolson and was once the largest and most successful gang in London. They want to destroy all the other gangs, being the Yardies, Collins Crew and the 14 K Triad. Charlie and his mob are destroyed on the Sol Vita when it explodes. Their bases include a warehouse on Southwark Street, a railway-arch lock-up on Scoresby Street, a depot on Pentonville Road, Charlie's mansion on Upper Brook Street and the Sol Vita, an old cargo ship moored at St Saviour's Dock. Bethnal vehicles consist of red Rover 75s and white modified Lexus LSs (3rd generation).
- Yardies – a group of Jamaican drug dealers led by Jamahl. Seen to have a huge rivalry with the Triads after Mark frames each group for anothers actions. Jamahl and the majority of his gang survived the explosion aboard the Sol Vita. Yardie bases include a crack house on Holywell Row and a derelict house on Rivington Street. Their vehicles consist of black and white Mercedes-Benz S500s (Brabus version) and blue modified Rover SD1s.
The game's soundtrack is complemented by a title song and cutscene soundtrack, performed by the London Session Orchestra. The game's soundtrack was chiefly composed by Andrew Hale, while portions of the soundtrack were written by Shawn Lee, who would later compose music for another sandbox-style game, Bully.
The game originally began life on the 32-bit PlayStation, off the back of Porsche Challenge. After having made an acclaimed circuit driving game, Team Soho, headed by Brendan McNamara - like many other developers at the time - felt that a free roaming vehicle game was an interesting concept worth exploring. The title was prototyped and playable missions were made, but it then evolved into a PlayStation 2 project. However the original code was kept and there was talk of including it on the finished game, which would ultimately not happen. Apart from several screenshots printed in the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, the original version would never see release.
In moving over to vastly more capable hardware, the scope of the title expanded, as did its ambitions. Bizarre Creations were generating a lot attention due to their successful result in reproducing the streets of central London for their Sega Dreamcast racer Metropolis Street Racer (or MSR). As MSR was being hyped and primed for release as one of the Dreamcast's so-called "killer games", Sony Computer Entertainment Europe felt compelled to attempt to steal Sega's thunder by promising the creation of a PlayStation 2 title which would re-create a massive 113 square kilometers (70 square miles) of London, displaying the ferocity and length at which Sony Computer Entertainment Europe was willing to attempt to challenge its veteran competitor. The final creation actually only yielded an area of 16 square kilometers (10 square miles).
However, re-creating even 16 square kilometers proved a daunting task and a technical nightmare; factors which may have delayed the release of The Getaway by several years. In the case of the latter, the programmers had to perfect an engine that could constantly stream three-dimensional geometry and texture data; of the areas of London the player was currently in close proximity to. At no point was the entire city loaded into memory, as it simply wouldn't fit. Unlike Rockstar North's Grand Theft Auto III, it was not an acceptable option for the Team Soho developers to break the city up into separate regions and impose a loading time delay when crossing between areas.
The hype surrounding the project began in earnest just before E3 2000, when a series of screenshots were published online. They revealed an amazing level of detail, clearly showing the very identifiable streets near Team Soho's studio. Though it has been argued that these shots were actually mock-up pre-renders, it is possible they were taken from actual code which received further detailed vehicle and character models, higher resolution textures and also anti-aliased the final output.
Although the prototype game was constantly shown behind closed doors, the public was not privy to its results for at least another year. It was only finally made playable at E3 2002. By then the project had ballooned, exceeding its development budget many times over. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe however had a range of other titles in development, but the decision was taken by Phil Harrison to can many of them; perhaps to allow yet more funds to be poured into The Getaway. As a result of this, the axe was to fall on two of its studios, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Manchester and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Leeds.
But this "all eggs in one basket" gamble did pay off. When the game was launched in December 2002, it received rave reviews and was a huge seller across Europe; especially in the United Kingdom. Worldwide and particularly in the United States, the game received mixed reviews and sales. The fact that it was released around the same time as the hugely popular GTA: Vice City (to which the game was often compared) also hurt sales despite a large marketing campaign in the United States.
The original release also included many bugs. The main game could not be completed on a single playthough due to key characters becoming submerged in the floor. Floating cars were common and the AI controlling NPCS was unreliable. Some of these issues were fixed in the later releases but many remained.
One alteration that Team Soho had to make was the removal of a vehicle and phone box logos which appeared in the initial release of the game. During one of Hammond's missions, a British Telecommunications (BT) van is used in a mission in which Hammond must kill the driver and take the van to assassinate a corrupt police officer. BT complained that it "did not want [its] name and livery associated with the violent scenes" in the game, and was worried that it "might incite attacks on [its] engineers." Although the initial release of the game was not recalled, subsequent production was amended to remove the offending details.
Ban in Australia
Originally released uncut with a MA15+, it was later resubmitted and banned due to a scene of detailed torture. A censored version omitting this scene was later released with a MA15+.
Maxim gave the game a score of eight out of ten and stated, "If the ensuing police brutality doesn't mold you into the model Wheelman, then having to endure those whiny English cop sirens surely will." FHM also gave it a score of four stars out of five and said, "Not just a little similar to GTA III in look, feel, and gameplay, it's nonetheless worth sleeping in front of the game store for this one." However, The Cincinnati Enquirer gave the game a score of three-and-a-half stars out of five, saying, "The biggest hindrance in The Getaway involves its user interface - or lack thereof - as the development team attempted to make the game look and play out like a movie." Entertainment Weekly was very negative of the game, giving it a D and stating, "The level of detail is extraordinary; even the facial expressions are motion-captured. But the slickest graphic presentation can't cover for Getaway's flawed script. [...] In a game infused with more humor and less pretentious aspirations, these flaws would be more forgivable."
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