The Getaway is one of those franchises. Its early incarnations are near unplayable due to shoddy controls and poor level design, but they are still amongst some of our favourite games on PlayStation.
It's mostly to do with the setting. The Snatch-inspired British gangland theme depicted in the original games is blissfully original. You only need watch the intro for the first game to be totally engrossed in what Team Soho was trying so desperately to achieve. Everything from the vehicle models to the jazzy soundtrack pull you right into London's seedy underbelly — it's impressive that such a rich sense of atmosphere was achieved on last generation hardware.
There's no doubt in our mind that The Getaway's cinematic style of action paved the way for more successful projects such as Uncharted and L.A. Noire; both of which depend heavily on characterisation and atmosphere as a compliment to the action.
Indeed the action was The Getaway's biggest stumbling block. Despite introducing a pretty innovative cover-mechanic for its time, everything about the gameplay felt slow and cumbersome. Movement was stiff and limited, and the gunplay in particular was desperately slow. That was all compounded by an outrageous difficulty curve that made wrestling with the controls essentially fatal.
But the original Getaway released in 2002 and video games are different now. Developers such as Naughty Dog have actually managed to find a way of making games feel cinematic without compromising the sensitivity of the controls. If The Getaway was developed today, it would be an entirely different prospect.
Which of course brings us to our E3 dream: we know The Getaway 3 existed for some time around the launch of the PlayStation 3, and now feels like the opportune moment to bring the franchise back. Despite the game being "cancelled" in 2008, an interview with Studio London's Nicholas Douchet revealed that the title was merely "put on hold". It's been two years since the game was last mentioned, but we still reserve some hope of a comeback.
Essentially there's nothing else like The Getaway available on current platforms. Sure, sandbox shooters are dime-a-dozen these days, but very few have the same kind of grounded atmosphere that resonated throughout the previous Getaway titles. Even Uncharted — for all its lovable cast and charming scenarios — has a fantastical feel to it. The Getaway has a darker, grittier vibe and is set in a location that's still horribly under-represented in games: London.
New York is undoubtedly an amazing setting for games, but it's been done so many times now that we've seen it all before. We've had the shoot-out in Times Square, the bank robbery and car chase. It's time for a big action game to go somewhere new. And it's where The Getaway can offer something unique, both in tone and setting. The game doesn't have to be restricted to London, either. Indeed, there was a lot of speculation many years ago that The Getaway 3 would take players outside of England and into Amsterdam — an equally interesting city which we've never seen in a video game before.
The Getaway franchise has always had an innovative and unique vibe, but its gameplay has never quite stepped up to the standard of its setting. Now it's time to put that right, with a game that controls well but, importantly, takes us somewhere tonally different. The Getaway 3 could be that game, and that's why we'll always long for an E3 revival.