Many of you may not have even heard of The Getaway before. And hopefully many of you will be like myself and have fond memories of the series but wonder where it seems to have disappeared to this generation. It’s actually one of Sony’s best exclusives in my humble opinion and should be involved in today’s battle for open world supremacy. Let me give you a quick history of the series and then talk about why I believe this franchise could make big moves for Sony on the PlayStation 4.
The original is born...
The Getaway first arrived on PlayStation 2 in December 2002 (January 2003 for North America) and was developed by Team Soho, who I will talk about later. It was an open world crime game (or “GTA clone” like many of these were coined) set in a gritty and realistic London. Featuring real licensed cars and shops the game had a sense of realism unseen previously in the genre. Mechanics such as car indicators showing you where to go and increased blood to the player to indicate health kept the screen clear of HUD options resulting in a cinematic experience. The game had a fantastic story that was told through two different characters that you control which intersect over time till they finally come to a massive conclusion involving a ticking bomb aboard a huge ship.
However the game wasn't without it’s problems. Many didn't like some of the mechanics with the driving in particular being quite frustrating at times. The game was also quite short in comparison to similar games but overall the way the game impressively captured and recreated a real life London to explore was remarkable. Having been already hit with an 18 month delay it felt like it was still rushed for release and you really have to wonder what could have been if the game was given time for extra polish.
Another unfortunate problem was the timing of release. Coming only one month after Vice City the game was always going to suffer after players have been spoiled with such an incredible game in the same genre. Surprisingly though from the numbers I can find it sold unbelievably well. According to Sony in January 2005, it sold 3 million copies. That’s a fantastic number and makes it one of Sony's best selling console exclusives. Granted games sold more last gen but Sony would absolutely kill to have one of their games do those sort of numbers nowadays.
Sequels are all the rage...
Everything seemed to be set up perfectly for a sequel, and that’s exactly what we got. The Getaway: Black Monday arrived in November 2004 (January 2005 in North America) but unfortunately couldn't improve upon what we had already seen. The mechanics were unchanged, the story at least tried to be different with multiple endings but wasn't as engrossing as the original. The city still looked amazing as ever but it really felt like they thought they could release the same game again after how successful it was and people would still enjoy it.
The biggest problem however was once again the timing. Released a mere one month after San Andreas, the best selling PS2 game of all time and regarded by many as the best in the genre, Black Monday was destined to fail. I can’t find any sales figures for this title but something tells me it was very poor after a hugely strong start for the franchise.
After a spin-off PSP title that wasn't an official The Getaway title called Gangs of London, many wondered if a third title would ever surface. At E3 2005 a demo called Piccadilly Circus showcased the tech behind what would be making The Getaway 3 and it looked fantastic. Any more news of the game went cold for a while until it was then reported that the game was cancelled in June 2008. Then in October 2009 we hear the game isn't cancelled but ‘on hold’ for the foreseeable future. Since then we hadn't heard anything about the game until someone asked Shuhei Yoshida on Twitter if the game was still in development, to which he replied “No” on April 9, 2012. So what happened? To get some context let’s take a look at Team Soho who developed the previous games.
Studios merge and projects fall...
Having created the first game the studio was merged into Sony’s London Studio which they were then a part of when they made the sequel. The studio is responsible for some huge financially successful games for Sony including EyeToy and the insanely popular SingStar games. Most recently they created Wonderbook last year. According to reports The Getaway 3 and Eight Days, another announced action third person game were cancelled so they could concentrate on other projects. Due to how much money the other games bring in for Sony it’s no surprise they were seen to be not worth the time especially after Black Monday seemed to underwhelm in sales.
Another aspect to this story to consider is that of the first game’s writer and director, Brendan McNamara. Many will recognize this name after he hit headlines concerning the work conditions at Team Bondi, the company he founded, as they cranked up for the release of L.A Noire. Afterwards the company folded and since then many former employees including McNamara started work on Whore of the Orient which was announced for next generation consoles. However last month the game was reported to still be seeking a publisher and after the ordeal behind their last game became public, that could be a difficult task. So where does all this leave The Getaway franchise.
Could The Getaway 3 help build the PS4?
It’s actually all rather quite messy and muddled right now. Of course Sony still own the IP but seem to have no intention of releasing a new title, which I think would be a bad idea. The Getaway could be a big hit for the PlayStation 4 for many reasons. If you look at the huge success of Saints Row: The Third and even Sleeping Dogs it’s clear that games in the genre without GTA in the title can do very well. What’s important here is that all these games are multiplatform titles with neither console having their own exclusive title to show off. If Sony come out with a new The Getaway which blows everyone away and says its only available on PS4, that could be one of their biggest draws for potential buyers. It doesn't suffer sequel fatigue like many franchises this gen yet isn't a complete leap of faith by Sony as the first game proved that the audience is there.
My dream scenario would be that Sony have hired Brendan already to head up development on the new title and that’s why Whore of the Orient seems to be on hold. Even without his involvement the game could still be the ace up the sleeve for Sony this year and I really hope the series doesn't get buried for good. This franchise is too unique and special with a clear hole in the market for Sony to exploit for them to not use it in the upcoming console war. Here’s hoping we will be cruising the streets of a beautiful HD London on Sony’s new console in the near future.