Why London Studio’s The Getaway Is Still a Special Driving Game 22 Years Later

PlayStation’s London Studio may be shutting down, but its PS2 classic The Getaway will forever remain a testament to its ingenuity.

byNico DeMattia|
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Sony Interactive Entertainment


My emotions are all over the place right now. Part of me is bummed, since PlayStation's London Studio is closing, amid mass layoffs at the gaming giant that saw 900 employees lose their jobs. It's hard to see great talent affected by corporate layoffs, but it's especially hard to see a group responsible for so many great games shut its doors entirely. At the same time, I'm also overcome with nostalgia, as this news reminded me that London Studio is responsible for one of my favorite games from my early teenage years, and one that I had forgotten about until today: The Getaway.

In 2002, London Studio launched what might've seemed like a British Grand Theft Auto clone to those who hadn't played it. However, The Getaway was so much more than a GTA clone. It was a cinematic, methodical London gangster drama with an open-world feel and loads of drivable licensed cars.

You could steal and drive them just like in GTA but these were real cars, not made-up lookalikes with silly names. There were models from Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Lexus, Saab, and pretty much everything from the Rover Group, including MG. What's more, these were ordinary passenger cars—the kind you rarely see in video games even today, which tend to focus on more aspirational, exotic stuff. Name another title where you can outrun baddies and the cops in a Rover 75 or Lexus LS.

What made The Getaway's driving especially satisfying was its sense of realism. The cars looked sharper than in GTA 3 and had more weight to toss around. You could also use your turn signals and calmly cruise the streets of London obeying traffic laws, if you wanted. And since much of the city was realistically recreated, it was ahead of its time, too. Even Forza Horizon isn't as faithful with its environments.

Piccadilly Circus circa 2002, as portrayed in The Getaway. Sony Interactive Entertainment

Of course, driving wasn't the player's only duty. There was action, too. With a dual-perspective storyline, following two characters on both sides of the law getting caught up in London's criminal underbelly, The Getaway shared a kinship with gangster movies, like Snatch, Layer Cake, or Sexy Beast. It also had a cinematic feel, without a HUD or even a crosshair during action sequences. Rather than picking up floating health packs, you needed to rest your character by leaning on walls to heal.

Between the gritty story, cinematic presentation, and realistic licensed cars, The Getaway was a truly great driving game. I was admittedly too young to play such a violent, mature title, but that's what happens when you have older cousins. It left a big impression, and is likely a huge reason why I love London mob movies today. It's sad to see London Studio shut down, but hopefully, The Getaway will continue to inspire fans and developers the same way it inspired me.

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