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Getaway - Black Monday

Getaway - Black Monday is the sequel to the Getaway game. This is set in an almost photorealistic version of London, with cops and robbers trading bullets.

For better or for worse, everyone is going to compare this game to GTA - San Andreas, as well as to the first Getaway that came out several years ago. So it's a strange situation in that the game is truly amazing in its own right - but it is very weak when held up to the standards of today's gaming.

First, the amazing parts. You literally are driving around the actual streets of London in this game, in real cars. If we had shown this game to gamers 5 or 10 years ago, they would have been blown away. Every detail of the streets is paid close attention to. If you played this game for a few weeks and then visited London, you would know your way around. That is an amazing achievement.

The game is very much like an interactive movie. Often the cut scenes almost seamlessly merge into your action. The shadows and movements in game are quite impressive. Some say the cut scenes are too long - but again this isn't a game about blasting away. It's about being drawn deeper and deeper into the story.

The graphics are very impressive, with tons of details. For example if you pick up dropped ammo, you actually stoop down and pick up something that looks like ammo. If you're in a car that is hurt, it goes more and more slowly, and the smoke obscures your vision.

The sound equally draws you in, from the various accents of the characters to their dialogue and background sounds. Also, unlike most of the games of this style on the market, you're actually playing 'good' most of the time. Instead of just killing people for fun, you are able to handcuff them and only take out the truly bad guys. That's a refreshing change.

Now, for the not-so-great aspects of this game. The one that really drives us crazy is the camera angle and controls. There are ALL sorts of times that the camera actively impedes your gameplay. Maybe we've been spoiled by Splinter Cell - but interpersonal combat is very clumsy here.

Next, gameplay is *incredibly* short. With games existing that take months to solve and explore, you could literally finish this game in a day or two. Now, if this had been the first release, I might have understood that. After all, building the incredible map of London was quite a task! But this is the *sequel* - meaning all of that hard work was done. All they had to do was maybe enhance the graphics, and add new missions. To add on missions that were so quickly solved seemed a shame.

I really love open ended missions, but this game makes it border on the edge of truly annoying. Sometimes you can kick open doors - but other times you can't - and there's no rational as to why. I love the no-health-meter interactive aspect - but you lean against walls to insta-heal? How about carrying a health kit at least? You don't have an ammo meter - again to make this immersive - but you can't actually see your gun's ammo levels.

I appreciate greatly that you can handcuff bad guys instead of just killing everyone in sight - but for some reason you just tap a guy and he dutifully lets you cuff him without a fight, and everyone else nearby pauses in their shooting until you're done. I would rather have some sort of mini-game that lets you cuff them in more of a challenging fashion.

A LOT of this game requires an intimate knowledge of the streets of London. Of course if you played the first game, you're pretty set here. If you aren't, make sure you take as much time as you can to learn them. It often spells the difference between success and failure.

And finally, as much as every game in modern times seems to involve swearing, this one goes over the top. The cops and bad guys seem to swear every third word. Sure, half of them are "English" swears so maybe don't carry the same weight in non-English countries. But it is still pretty incessant.

This really could have been an incredibly excellent game, but the combination of bad camera and short gameplay make it more of an exercise in frustration. You get periods where you really get into things - and then periods where you are swearing as much as the characters on-screen are. Maybe if they get around to a Getaway 3, they'll finally find a good balance.

Rating: 3/5

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