The Getaway: Black Monday is the sequal to the 2003 title The Getaway, which featured a tale of the London Underground. Developed by Sony’s Studio SOHO, The Getaway: Black Monday opted to improve on the original gameplay, adding in 25 square miles of London roadway as well as three playable characters and a branching storyline.
I have to admit, I didn’t harbor much in the way of high hopes for Getaway: Black Monday. The original Getaway was, to me, very difficult and frustrating to the point that it simply wasn’t fun to play. I fully expected this sequal to be equally as un-fun as the previous title. Was I surprised? Read on to find out.To be honest, Black Monday dosen’t look like a 2005 release title at all. It looks more like something out of the early release cycle of the Playstation 2. What appear to be low polygon counts, a number of clipping issues, a problem with the camera being much too close to the controlled character’s head, and one case of a skylight shattering into nothing but obvious triangles, and large ones at that, are everywhere. The character faces look ugly with the only bright part being the young female character, who is somewhat cute, if you squint. It’s not that the game is really pushing the Playstation 2’s engine, it’s almost like they kept the same graphics engine from The Getaway, which if true is inexcusible. The music and overall sound and voiceovers are the truly redeeming factor of this game, outside of the story itself. The music is reminescent of a crime drama and it does a very good job of working with the story. The voice acting is extremely good, with all of the characters well acted, other than what appears to be a similar British accent being used by all of the British characters. The cars and street noise are all well fleshed-out, the guns make appropriate sounds, and the world feels alive enough, other than a few glitches here and there.
One of the problems The Getaway had was its control structure. No map, no way to tell which way you were supposed to go while driving other than the car’s turn signal, no health meter, no ammo meter… it was like Studio SOHO wanted you to have nothing to interfere with the immersiveness of the game itself.
This is much the same this time, although a map has been added, with some variation on waypoints. Unfortunately, if attention is not paid to the turn signals, the way can be lost quickly. Movement on foot is slow and clunky, like moving through molasses, and trying to get Sam, the young female thief, to crawl under desks and floor ducts can be an exercise in frustration.
Still, the driving component of the game has been vastly improved, and the shooting model isn’t bad at all once you get used to it. The hardest things still remain turning to one side to fire while driving and aiming manually, which is absolutely necessary in order to save a few hostages, and to help put away the final boss.
As stated in the overview, the main problem with The Getaway is that it became so frustrating that it simply wasn’t fun anymore. After about the third or fourth mission, there wasn’t much point in playing. Luckily, this isn’t true of Black Monday. The story grips you, drags you along, and makes you want to find out exactly what is going to happen next. The save points are automatic and happen frequently enough that, with the exception of the final mission, you never have to replay too much of the action to finally make it through the mission you’re on.
The cut-scenes are excellent in the game, and other than the low quality of the graphics themselves, it can almost be viewed as a British crime movie in the vein of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”.
The game itself isn’t long, probably no more than twenty hours, although you can replay any of the missions and find keychains to unlock various things in the bonus games, of which there are a handful, mostly race-based, although a taxi game, akin to what is in the Grand Theft Auto series, is included. The ability to tour the city as various of the game’s characters is also a nice treat.
And additional bonus is a making-of video, unlocked by finishing the game, and is a nice look behind how the game is made, and in fact about London itself.Taking into account the relative short length of the game, the graphical shortfalls, and the few minor glitches in the game along with the relative lack of replayability outside of the handful of minigames means that The Getaway: Black Monday is more of a rental than a purchase. Perhaps if the game manages to make Greatest Hits status as its predecessor did, it’ll be worth a purchase at that point. However, it cannot be recommended as is unless you’re truly into this style of game.