A review by Gegsy

Back in 2002 The Getaway was released with much anticipation and hype, featuring London mapped out perfectly in the game a feat not seen before. Unfortunately it never lived up to the hype, in fact it was awful and a huge disappointment. So with the release of The Getaway: Black Monday the boys from Sony's Team Soho are giving it another shot and seeing if this time they can find a way into our gaming hearts.

In The Getaway Black Monday we pick up the story two years after the events in the first game. The original characters of Mark Hammond and Frank Carter have been replaced by a new trio, troubled cop Ben Mitchell, general muscle Eddie O'Connor and female computer hacker and general delinquent Sam. These three characters all come under our control over the 48 hours that the game is set in and each of their stories are entwined to form the game's plot.

You begin the game playing Sgt Ben 'Mitch' Mitchell who has just come back to the force following a two year suspension. The reason for his suspension is the game's beginning and first cut-scene where we see him attempting to arrest a young man, the scene ends with Mitch shooting the 18 year old in the back and thus killing him. We then zip forward to Mitch's first day back on the job; he is seen as a liability by his co-workers and has to prove himself with a raid on a drug-dealer's flat.

One of the first things that grabbed me about this game was the story; it is gripping, dark and instantly sucks you in. Team Soho hired a team of 20 actors to bring life to the characters in the game and to provide motion capturing. This really adds strength to the cut-scenes and your belief in the character, the language is crude in parts and Eastender's and Guy Ritchie films spring to mind at times when watching.

As is much publicised about this game it features a 25 square-mile-model of London which has been enhanced since the original and now includes a further 17 landmarks including the Underground. The models are very impressive and the in-game graphics are one of it's major plus points, it is nice to be screaming through the streets of the city and to catch a famous building zipping past. This adds a nice touch of familiarity to Black Monday, with so many games of this genre being set in the States it is nice to have a game taking it's inspiration from something closer to home for UK gamers.

The action is seen from a third person angle and comes in two forms, driving or on foot. In the original the driving was infuriating because your car would be totalled so easily thus forcing you to abandon it and jack another, in a chase mission this made it impossible. In Black Monday this problem has been addressed and the cars are now a lot sturdier and the traffic has been downsized. It could be argued that if this game wants to get as close to London as possible then the traffic jams should be a feature but if this were the case then the driving missions would just be unplayable.

The vehicles handle well and there have been a whole host of new types that your character can take control of including buses, scooters, bikes and trucks. The variety of cars is astonishing and the detail right down to the number plate is there, you can grab a Peugeot 206, a VW Golf GTI, a Renault Laguna and many more. You are directed where to go by the car indicators and this has been tweaked so if you miss a turning you will be directed along an alternative route at the next turning, unlike the original where you had one rigid route available. The developers have now added alleyways and back streets which you can make full use of on a motorbike thus getting off the main roads. Another welcome feature is the ability to shoot from a moving car and more often than not you get shot at by gangsters. The inclusion of a small on-screen map has been left out though which is a real let down, little touches like that can make things just that little bit easier.

When the action changes to foot you have the use of one of the three characters and each one has there own individual characteristics and movements. Mitch is more weapons orientated, Eddie favours the hard hitting approach due to his boxing history and Sam has a much more stealth approach and has much more agility than the other two. However regardless of which character you are playing the game suffers from very random camera movement and can be extremely frustrating, in the very first chapter Mitch has to ascend some stairs in a block of flats and many times you end up walking into a wall because the camera doesn't keep up with the action and more importantly doesn't allow you to see what is coming up ahead.

The controls can be a bit confusing to begin with and it will take a couple of chapters to truly get into the flow of the game, but once this is done it is easy to get your character to perform the actions that you wish them to. You have the ability to crouch behind objects and shoot out while still crouching, you can roll along the floor in a somersault action and back up to the wall and edge your way around corners. The shooting can be automatically aimed or you can manually make the character point the gun in the direction you wish, the automatic shooting is accurate enough but I did find myself switching to manual more often than not for more accuracy, especially with head shots.

There is plenty in the game to keep you going, 22 chapters in all. Mitch's story occupies the first nine chapters and the plot then moves on to Sam before finishing with Eddie, but all three characters are linked and the game takes on a firm Pulp Fiction air. If you get bored with this however there are extra feature where you can race on the street of London, become a Taxi driver, chase down criminals and knock them off the road or just simply go for a free roam around the city.

This is certainly an improvement on the original game; the graphics are astonishing and impressive all the way through, especially with the different areas that your character has to roam around. The plot as I have mentioned before is the real star of the game though and was what held my attention right through to completing the game. However I still cannot say that this is a brilliant game purely because there are aspects of it that are so annoying. It becomes very repetitive and rather than playing it sometimes I felt I was just pushing through to find out what happened next in the story rather than playing it because I was enjoying it. The driving aspect of the game soon becomes weary and out of the two different ways of playing I found the missions on foot to be the more enjoyable.

This is a good game and for fans of the original is a must buy, however it still cannot hold a candle to the king of this genre which is GTA, The Getaway Black Monday is worth buying but not an essential title to own.