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The Getaway is an Action/Adventure open-world video game developed by Team Soho and published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for the PlayStation 2 in 2002. The Getaway is the first in the series and is said to have been inspired by British gangland films. 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 a police officer in service with the Flying Squad, Detective Constable Frank Carter and an ex-bank robber, Mark Hammond, 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 the purposes of game and story progression. Both of the two characters can perform a series of physical tasks, such as walking, sprinting, rolling, shooting, and taking cover during a firefight. Once both of the game's characters missions have been completed, a "free roaming" option from the main menu is opened, allowing 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, Peugeot Citroën, Fiat and Lexus, along with a number of others. Firearms and weapons available to the player include the Glock 17 pistol, 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 [[Heads-up display|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 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" to Mark, as a threat: "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, eventually leaving Jolson to 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 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 Metropolis Street Racer, on Sega's Dreamcast. As Metropolis Street Racer 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 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. Only perhaps 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 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (to which the game was often compared) also hurt sales despite a large marketing campaign in the United States.
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 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 it's 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.
The game was banned 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+.
The Getaway received average reviews, praise went to, cut scenes, graphics, sound, vehicles and story. Negative feedback was focused about the rather shallow graphics and short and basic missions.