Review by Gruel

Reviewed: 05/24/06

One of the most artsy games out there

I have to admit, I was in the crowd of people that were quite skeptical when first hearing the news that famous clothing designer Marc Ecko would be directing his own videogame. I was also in the same crowd of folks that were shocked that Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure turned out to be a surprisingly good game. Turns out that Mr. Ecko really knows how to make a good game, and it is most certainly a fresh entry in the gaming market that seems so over saturated with sequels lately.

Getting Up is an action platformer that focuses primarily on making an authentic representation of the graffiti culture. It is set in the town of New Radius where the mayor is strongly determined to clean up the town in order to get rid of all of the graffiti artists for good. The leading star of Getting Up, Trane, is outraged at the new crackdown and takes it to the streets to make a name for himself in the underground.

The story is rather interesting as Trane starts off getting kicked out of his grandmother’s and dealing with all the local gangs and then moving his way up to being heavily noticed by the mayor, as well as uncovering some major political scandals. The cut scenes are some of the best produced ones I have seen in a game in quite some time, and you would be doing the game a great shame by skipping over them.

Graffiti is the heart and soul of the gameplay engine in Getting Up, as there are many ways to tag up the streets of New Radius. There are a wide assortment of tools to use from the standard spray can, all the way to crayons and paint. Just go up to almost any wall and hold the R1 button and square to spray a quick tag. Every time you start a new level there will be several spots in a stage marked with an X for you to spray your tag over. Most of these objective-specific tags will require a little bit of extra work, by walking up to them an outline of a bigger tag will appear and you will have to casually fill it in by carefully going over the tag. It is not as simple as it sounds either as you are being timed and have to make sure not to spray certain spots too long or you will cause nasty drip stains that lower your score. While this does sound like a complicated system, the developers do a tremendous job easing you into it.

The platform element of Getting Up is how some of the locations you are supposed to tag seem to be in what looks to be completely out of reach walls and billboards. Figuring out how to get there whether it is climbing across beams way up high or finding a hidden vent to crawl through makes the game a lot more challenging for the better. Graffiti makes up the bulk of the gameplay, but there will be many a construction worker and security guards getting in Trane’s way so a decent little fighting system is included. It isn’t overly complex, but has just the right amount of depth to it so it doesn’t seem ridiculously easy. There are several types of combos to learn, and Trane can toss opponents into walls and deliver “insult hits” in the form of dirty low blows. A lot of the environment is also interactive and by busting into crates you can pick up a handy 2x4 for a nice advantage. The fighting system works well for the most part, and is a nice diversion so you don’t get all burnt out on all that tagging.

There are also a couple of other special stages thrown in so things don’t get too repetitive. This is both good and bad. The good is that some of these stages that feature Trane trying to escape a burning building and avoiding objects on a moving subway as he attempts to tag up some trains in motion are exciting and delivers a major adrenaline rush. Unfortunately some of these missions can be incredibly difficult by having insane time limits and investing what seems to be a bit too much trial and error in order to succeed. Eventually I did accomplish these missions, but only after also accomplishing a few dents in my wall.

Other quips I have with the game are that I wish there was an option to move with the directional pad. I got use to using the analog stick after awhile, but it also yielded some tricky situations when maneuvering Trane along tight corridors or carefully balancing him across a beam. The Achilles Heel of any platformer is the camera, and it does occasionally get on my nerves, but it certainly fares a lot better when compared to most other games in the genre.

Getting Up is a lengthy quest, and won’t be a walk in the park eight hour romp like a lot of other games seem to be favoring lately. Expect at least double that, because there are a lot of things to do in the main quest, and a nice amount of extras too. The developers at The Collective make sure to reward you with a wealthy amount of unlockables such as graffiti art galleries, additional musical tracks and multiplayer mini games.

The graphical direction behind Getting Up is something that deserves to get noticed. I haven’t seen a game so artistic since Nintendo’s Wind Waker a few years ago. Of the overcrowded urban games coming out over the past couple of years, this one gets it right by creating an environment that got me to believe I was daring the mean streets of a rough underground. As expected, graffiti is everywhere, but much to my delight it wasn’t the same few tags repeated over and over. A lot of the character models share the same basic design, but that is mostly understandable in this case as it was in San Andreas so you can easily identify gang members. The developers do an admirable job overall, but the only major downside is that you can tell the PS2 is really showing its age with lots of faded textures, and I noticed lots of tags randomly appearing and disappearing depending on how I walked past them.

Whoever was the main guy behind the audio in Getting Up should get some major props as he did one helluva job. There are over 30 tracks that range from many types of genres like rap, hip hop, and rock, but they seem to perfectly match the atmosphere the gameplay represents. Seriously, it is rare I see licensed music so fitting in a game. Atari went out and got a cast of several big names for the voice acting, and boy did they make sure to get their money’s worth out of them because they do a damn good job. Stars like Brittany Murphy, Adam West and Andy Dick are some of the main standouts that excel compared to many other games that hire out big names for voice acting. It is only the graffiti legends that appear in the game such as Futura, Cope2 and others that deliver performances that leave a little more to be desired. But overall this is one of the best audio experiences I have heard in a game this year.

Marc Ecko must have done his research. I have been hearing for awhile that this game might be something special, and I can guarantee it is. Even if the graffiti culture isn’t your thing, I highly encourage you to check out Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. Other than some growing pains on some of the side missions, this is a superb game that everyone should at least give a try.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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