Another of the game's seemingly clever but ultimately failed attempts at being unconventional is the way it lets you restore your health during shooting sequences. In most games, you pick up first-aid kits or some other health power-up that lets you continue on against the droves of enemies ahead. But there are no health power-ups in The Getaway, just as there aren't in real life. Still, the designers must have realized at some point that there's no way to make the missions survivable without giving you some way of recovering from your wounds, or interesting without filling them with bad guys. So their solution to the problem that you'll almost certainly get shot multiple times in every mission is that you can stop and rest beside any wall, where you'll see Hammond or Carter breathe heavily for a number of seconds as the blood from their clothing magically disappears. Before long, they're as good as new. Not only is this patently absurd, and certainly no more realistic than using first-aid kits or whatever, but it also frequently interrupts the pacing of the game's shooting sequences. Sometimes there's some tension created by having to rest in a dangerous area, but mostly the resting just breaks up the action, making the shooting scenes less satisfying than they could have been.
The game's occasional stealth sequences are even less enjoyable, as they're essentially just mazes that you'll figure out after much trial and error and without the help of any onscreen feedback. In the first such sequence, Hammond is forced to sneak through a lightly guarded compound without alerting anyone to his presence. An earlier mission has him shooting up a former hangout of his that is filled with friends and innocents, so the fact that he's not allowed to just shoot these people, who are his real enemies, is really disappointing.
A number of technical or mechanical issues also get in the way of The Getaway being much fun. Your view on foot and on the road is locked in a single third-person perspective, but the camera will frequently lag behind you during sharp turns or when rounding corners. An auto-aim feature keeps the shooting sequences from being challenging, and they're not terribly engaging anyway, since the lack of any onscreen targeting reticle (those are unrealistic) means you can't even tell who Hammond or Carter is aiming at. You just keep pressing the targeting button and the fire button until everyone dies, and then you rest. While you can perform a rolling move, take enemies hostage, and flatten your back against walls and glance around corners, these things don't figure heavily into the gameplay and aren't well implemented. Furthermore, the artificial intelligence of the enemy gunmen is severely lacking, as they'll often just stand there and get killed. Innocents, too, will stand idly by and get caught in the line of fire. You'll see (and hear) other weird things like people or cars clipping clear through solid surfaces and sound samples playing when they shouldn't be playing, as well as obvious inconsistencies between gameplay sequences and the noninteractive cutscenes that follow. You'll end a mission in one type of car and see yourself in an entirely different car in the cutscene that's supposed to take place immediately after.
The shooting sequences are awkwardly paced and unchallenging.
The Getaway does look really good, and it features a large number of authentic-looking cars from manufacturers such as Lexus, Range Rover, Daihatsu, Saab, and more. The game uses realistic colors and textures and highly articulated, smoothly animated character models to create its cinematic appearance. Above all, then, The Getaway is really interesting to look at, and the developers' attempts at doing away with standard gaming iconography--though a disastrous move in terms of making The Getaway a better game--does help accentuate the game's gritty, movielike appearance. The game mostly sounds good, too. The voice acting is well done, though while the excessive swearing in the script seems mostly appropriate to the setting and story, at times it seems like someone went in and put an extra helping of four-letter words in there, just for kicks. The game's musical score is well suited to the game and effectively underscores the action sequences. In one scene, a thumping hip-hop soundtrack can be heard as Hammond sneaks into a Yardie crack house--and then it cuts off once he stumbles into a room with a DJ spinning records and kills him. Considering the level of graphic violence here, it's somewhat surprising that the death animations are pretty meek, and that the guns all sound underpowered. On the other hand, the use of the squealing tires effect when driving is a bit excessive, making it sound as if you're racing for your life even when you're backed up in traffic. Many missions also feature annoyingly incessant sirens or alarms that drown out all the other audio. This was probably put in for realism's sake, like a lot of other things in The Getaway.
Originally released in Europe late last year, The Getaway has sold very well in that region, and it has understandably garnered a sizeable following among all those who bought this highly anticipated and heavily promoted game. The game's impressive production values, serious subject matter, and real-world setting do make it quite unlike anything else out there, and The Getaway is a resounding testament to the fact that games have undeniably matured over the last few years. Unfortunately, the game itself, the thing you have to actually sit and play before you can watch the unskippable cutscenes, is loaded with problems and just isn't very good. Ironically, the game's efforts to help you suspend your disbelief while playing pretty much all fall flat, having the opposite effect. That's not to say the driving or shooting sequences of The Getaway are devoid of merit, because they're sometimes exciting when everything works right. And the game's distinctive style is so meticulously crafted that some will go out of their way to apologize for The Getaway's shortcomings in light of its ambitious efforts. But in the end, if The Getaway is a train wreck, then you're better off rubbernecking from the side of the road rather than being in it. That is to say, you'd be glad if you saw and played some of the game, but you probably wouldn't be glad if you bought it.