PS2 REVIEW: MARC ECKO'S GETTING UP: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE

Paint the town red, figuratively and literally in this urban based grafitti treat from The Collective and Atari. by Cole Smith

February 16, 2006 - Here's another game for middle-class white kids to express their hostilities as they defend their turf against rival gangs in the mean streets of a town without pity. This teenage, urban angst is expressed through various rebellious acts against anything that represents any kind of authority. That includes brick walls that silently impose boundaries but can be sprayed with graffiti to teach them a lesson.

Don't get me wrong. Getting Up is a fun game and it's much better for kids to express themselves in the virtual world than in the real world. I realize that gang life can be an irresistible draw to some kids but hopefully most kids will get their rocks off by living large vicariously through games like this. We all hate wannabes but you won't be hurting anyone by playing games like this and you won't end up in the big house either. (Editor - What Cole is really saying is that he hopes you punks will be preoccupied playing games like Getting Up instead of smashing his head in at the ATM at 3:00 am - Vaughn)

Trane is the main man in this game. He's a proficient tagger and is determined to make a name for himself - even if it means spraying it on billboards and in subway stations. There's a good storyline to the game that, while including plenty of cliches, manages to spin an interesting plot with realistic characters and plenty of unpredictable twists and turns.

New Radius is a pseudonym for a futuristic New York City. The mayor has clamped down on crime but in the process has limited the freedom of many of its inhabitants. The jack-booted militia known as the CCK are in full force, enforcing the rules and cracking skulls. Facing this regime as well as regular cops and rival gang members known as the Vandals of New Radius, Trane will have to employ stealth, combat and quick reflexes as he pulls off various missions to "paint the town."

What exactly motivates Trane to do what he does? First and foremost he's an artist. As a tagger, he expresses himself, while gaining rep points which are used to unlock or purchase various items. Throughout the game he learns new truths which he feels compelled to share with the public through this powerful medium. His adventures eventually bring him to protesting against the government as he uncovers deep and dark conspiracies.

Every tag is a race against time as you never know who or what will try to stop you. You will learn more about Trane, and the unusual circumstances involving his grand entrance, as the game progresses.

Getting messages across on a variety of surfaces is the basic premise of the game but there's so much more to it than that. Just getting to the locations is part of the battle. Not to mention that there are actual battles in which you will use combat-style moves. Most of the missions revolve around putting up poster, murals in addition to spraying graffiti in selected areas. Most of these places are dangerous, as there might be guards, police or rival gang members in the area. Your job is to get in, get up, and get out safely.

Once you approach an area you may have to take care of patrolling enemies. You can do this by sneaking up on them and whacking them with a paint can. This is a stealth kill. If you manage to get spotted you will have to resort to hand-to-hand combat. New combat moves are available as you earn more rep points.

Various skills are required to reach your painting area. You might have to climb pipes, perform wall jumps and shimmy down ledges. Scaling these heights requires puzzle-solving and platforming skills. The controls are very forgiving which makes platforming a breeze and the puzzles are straightforward and relatively easy to figure out. Everything you need is always within reach and easy to use. Things could be a bit more challenging but at least the gameplay flows.

The act of painting is quite easy but you have to get faster at it as you go. You will be under a time limit to complete each tag. When you arrive at the area, there will be an outline for you to fill in. You can change some parameters of it such as the size and shape but ultimately you have to fill it in with paint. Get your can out and press the button to release the color from the can. One thing you have to remember is to keep moving your painting arm so as to avoid drips. If you keep it in one spot too long you'll accumulate too much paint in one area and produce drips. Having drips, failure to beat the time limit, and not making the tag large enough will result in fewer rep points. These rep points will unlock skills that can make you paint faster and more accurately as well as increase other skills such as the ability to inflict more damage through the use of weapons and hand-to-hand combat.

It's obvious that you're going to need these rep points to get through future missions which are going to get more difficult so it's imperative that you do your best when you're tagging. Once your masterpiece has been completed you have to get yourself out of the area. You'll face the same challenges getting out as you did getting in.

You don't have any super moves, the developers have decided that "keeping it real," would give the game more credibility, which is essential when dealing with street-savvy gamers. There is lots of gameplay variation. It's so well incorporated into the missions that it never seems repetitive. Every situation is unique and is important to the success or failure of the missions. This isn't just about tagging, and hopefully a lot of potential gamers will not overlook that fact when they first hear about this game.

Getting Up has a cohesive look to it that is very stylish. The decaying urban environments mesh seamlessly with trendy hip-hop fashions. Virtually every scene looks like it could be a location for a video shoot. Speaking of which, the game features the voice talents of Diddy, Adam West and Talib Kweli as the voice of Trane. The music reflects the street 'tude with rappers Rhymefest and Rakin to name a few. It's an aural and visual feast for hip hop fans everywhere.

Getting up will take a few days to complete but once your job is done it's time to move on. While I highly recommend playing this game, I also highly recommend renting it as you're not likely to want to paint over old territory.


Features:

  • World famous hip-hop artist Talib Kweli as the voice for lead-character, Trane
  • A revolutionary, deep storyline written by Marc Ecko poses the question "What if graffiti could change the world?," demonstrating the struggle against authority while seeking to save a neighborhood from an oppressive city government
  • Authentic tags from more than 50 actual graffiti artists from all over the world - six of whom are characters in the game including Cope 2, FUTURA, OBEY: Shepard Fairey, Seen, Smith and T-kid and will teach Trane their specialties to add to his arsenal of graffiti tools
  • 11 distinct metropolis-style environments of New Radius with 20 levels to complete
  • Revolutionary graffiti gameplay system designed to hone your skills as you get your message up. New Radius is your canvas as you tag with Aerosol, Rollers, Markers, Wheat Paste, Stickers and Stencils
  • Ability to use a variety of different graffiti tags, including stencils, stickers, posters and throw-ups
  • Special fighting mechanics - combine kicking, grappling and punching moves along with improvised weaponry
  • Graffiti intuition system which allows Trane to locate ideal places to tag within each environment
  • A digital "black book" to unlock new tags and abilities, and store pictures and tags of graffiti legends Trane encounters along the way
  • Extremely responsive enemy A.I. mechanics
  • Lessons in graffiti evolution - watch Trane grow from "toy" to "All City King" as his graffiti style and the state of graffiti in New Radius evolve over the course of the game. Start in a 1980's train culture scene where subways were prime targets for gaining fame and continue to an exaggerated version of the silver-train era when "Take Back the City" was the city's battle cry, and extreme use of anti-graffiti tactics was rampant.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure (PS2)
4.5
Graphics
Gritty, yet fashionable. The environments can get large, but it also comes with a little slowdown.
4.2

Control
The controls are just a little too easy and forgiving.

4.6
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Excellent voiceacting and an appropriate hip hop soundtrack give this games vibes for days.
3.0
Play Value
The vibes last longer than the game. You'll finish it in about 15 hours and there's little incentive to revisit the scene of the crime.
4.4
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: Xbox (shown), PS2, PC
Dev: Collective
Pub: Atari
Release: Feb 2006
Players: 1
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best