Every few months, a game touts itself as the “Grand Theft Auto” killer — this past summer, it was “Driv3r.” Despite the game’s dynamic cinematic presentation, it failed to deliver on any level when it came to what was most important: gameplay. Unfortunately, SCEA’s “The Getaway: Black Monday” aligns itself with Atari’s “Driv3r” in far too many ways, and the end result is a game that crumbles under its own dead weight.
The most disappointing aspect of a game like “Black Monday” is that a lot of time and effort was obviously put into the game. The presentation is excellent, bringing a realistic depiction of the London underworld to life. Graphically, the game’s cut scenes are well refined, with beautiful art direction and superb voice acting. In fact, the game would have been better without any gameplay at all.
Even the in-game environments look good, despite the far-from-perfect character models. Water reflections are a nice touch, as are the crisp environmental textures. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to sift through all of the garbage presented in “Black Monday” to get to the good stuff.
The controls are a prime example of the game’s complete lack of refinement. The right analog stick, as in most third-person shooters, controls the character’s view. However, in this iteration, the camera is confined to a 180-degree view — the limits of the character’s actual line of sight. This technique may add a bit of realism to the game, but even in open spaces, it makes the controls incredibly awkward. When the action gets tight, the controls are downright deplorable. The ability to steer a character through a game’s environs easily should be a given in any third-person shooter; “Black Monday” makes it a frustrating task that ultimately detracts from the flow of the story.
The artificial intelligence of the enemy characters is also underdeveloped. Enemies don’t seem to understand how to act in a gun battle, stepping into the line of fire or acting oblivious when their friends kick the bucket a few feet away. Most of them simply stand there, firing back and ducking occasionally until they die.
At its core, “Black Monday” feels like a beta release, a game that should have been polished further and more carefully refined long before it made its way into the public’s hands. The well-executed cinematic direction and the meticulous recreation of London that sets the stage for this dark tale are ultimately lost in this mismanaged and misguided attempt to recreate cinema-style action.
Rating: 1 and 1/2 out of 5 stars