Last year’s gritty crime drama The Getaway had to rank as a great concept that was somewhat flawed in its overall design. The plot of the game, an urban tale of revenge, betrayal and murder, was perhaps one of the best stories that came out last year. However, inconsistent controls, wonky camera angles and particularly harsh traffic conditions made The Getaway an infuriating experience. Well, the latest title in the series seeks to address these issues, returning players to the criminal underbelly of London. Get ready to check your morality at the door, because we’re walking on the dark side with The Getaway: Black Monday.
Similar to that of the original title, the game follows multiple characters through their violent adventures through the streets of London. However, this isn’t a continuation of the original story; in fact, with the exception of one character, none of the initial “heroes” make an appearance in Black Monday. Taking place a few years after the first title, the plot revolves around Eddie, an East End boxer and part time thug who finds himself wrapped up in a bank robbery scheme. Assisting him is a young hacker named Sam, whose skill with machines and computer systems are almost matched with her gymnastic ability. Finally, there’s Mitch, a Special Operations Unit police officer whose rash actions sometimes result in unpleasant results for innocent bystanders. While the story is one that leaps back and forth between characters, it winds up revolving around Eddie’s bank job going wrong and Mitch out for revenge.
Black Monday retains many of the stylistic touches from the first title, with a number of changes to address some of the previous game's issues. First of all, while it retains the same 25 square miles of London from the first title, it’s now possible to enter many more diverse locations. In fact, you’ll also find that some of the action in Black Monday takes place through a number of buildings and even across rooftops. As you go from level to level, you'll be able to choose how a character responds to certain missions. These choices, while not readily apparent, will determine a number of branching storylines that also affect the numerous endings you can receive.
Your options in combat have also been substantially increased. You'll still be able to pack pistols, shotguns or semi-automatic weapons, but now you'll also be able to dual wield weaponry, as long as it's of the same class (i.e. two pistols, two Uzis, etc.) Eddie's boxing skill can be used as well, and he can unleash some very powerful looking punches on anyone that gets in his way. Mitch, on the other hand, can actually arrest criminals that come across his path, peacefully subduing any attackers.
Vehicular driving has also been tweaked significantly, to adjust for the confusing London streets, insane traffic levels and horrid directional indicators via your turning signals. Well, the turning signals have returned, but now act as a GPS system would, actively calculating the shortest path to your destination. This way, if you make a wrong turn, the game will subtly redirect you in the right direction. Handling for every car has been substantially increased and varied for the 250+ vehicles in the game, a welcome change from the infuriating controls of the original. What's more, motorcycles have been included as well to fully flesh out the sense of a living, breathing city with a variety of transportation. Finally, traffic has been significantly adjusted so you're no longer inundated by a ton of computer controlled Sunday Drivers.
The look of the first Getaway was very dark and stylistic, and Black Monday seems like it upholds the graphical details from the first very well. The design choice of eliminating onscreen gauges or indicators returns in Black Monday, giving you a better sense of "playing a movie" than a game. London actually looks a bit sharper than the first game, and the shadowy tone adds weight to the action that occurs on the streets of the city. The character modeling, which also included full facial capture for the actors, is much better than the first game, so Mitch, Eddie and Sam look truly incredible. Couple that with great voice acting and you've got an incredibly compelling story on your hands. However, just be warned that the language isn't for kids. I managed to lose count of the number of F-Bombs dropped during one scene, but it was easily more than 15 in a 30 second period. Language warning aside, Black Monday looks like it'll steal much more than player's hearts when it gets released early next year; it could take over plenty of PS2s. Check back soon for a full review!
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