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The beautiful letdown
Black Monday gets away from story
BY JIM MURRAY

When The Getaway was released for the PS2 to much hype in January of 2003, it sold a ton of copies, but most gamers, magazines, and web sites thought the game was an ambitious yet clunky and uncontrollable mess. Well, they were all wrong. Yes, The Getaway did have frustrating control at times, but once you got the hang of the controls and the lack of a head's-up display (the absence of which really freaked some gamers out), you were treated to a gripping, Guy Ritchie-esque story that most Hollywood hacks couldnít dream of scripting. It was a violent, well-scored, and superbly voice-acted game that never got the respect it deserved. It was easily one of my favorites on the PS2, and it had me talking in a horrible cockney accent for weeks after I finished playing (much to my friends' dismay).

Anyway, itís now two years later, and Team Soho, the developers of the first Getaway, have released the sequel, The Getaway: Black Monday. Much like its predecessor, Black Monday has been getting panned by critics and gamers alike. Unfortunately, this time I tend to agree with the masses. No, Iím not siding with them on issues of control in the game (it hasnít changed from the first game, but it never bothered me in the first place), nor do I have issues with the lack of the HUD (Iím definitely in the minority on that, but hell, I always thought it was pretty cool that I had no map and essentially had to learn how to get around London on my own).

No, my major gripe with Black Monday is the lack of a decent story. If youíve read any of my reviews in the past, you know that more than anything, a good, gripping storyline is the most important reason for me to play an action-oriented video game. Iím sorry to say that Black Monday doesnít hold a candle to the original in that regard.

In the first game, I really felt for Mark Hammond as he tried to clear his name. I was determined to exact revenge against that twisted, fat yutz Charlie Jolson. Here in Black Monday, the characters you control and the story (I use the term loosely) behind them are paper-thin. Sgt. Ben Mitchellís personality is about as bland as white bread, Eddie comes across as a cheap attempt to switch up the action with hand-to-hand combat, and the one playable female entry, Sam, is just downright annoying. The main characters' stories intertwine, but honestly, I never really cared. Plus, with three separate entities, everything became hard to follow after a while.

Even though the story didnít quite do it for me, I was still impressed with the overall scope of Black Monday; like the original, the game boasts amazing graphics, downright incredible voice-over work, and loads íní loads of Brit-violence, of which Iím a big fan (Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels are two of my favorite movies). There are also some new additions in Black Monday that werenít in its predecessor: You can now fire a gun while driving, and you can jack motorcycles. Plus, youíll even get to check out the famed London Underground.

All in all, itís a very pretty game, but I canít help feeling a bit disappointed, especially considering how much I loved the original Getaway. The best way I can explain Black Monday is to compare it to other good-looking Brit things Ė you know, like the Spice Girls and Jude Law. Sure, they look amazing Ė hell, they may even entertain you for a while Ė but in the end, thereís just not much substance there.

Score: 6.5 (out of 10)


Issue Date: Febraury 4 - 10, 2005
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