Getting Up is a reference to getting your name up on the wall, not necessarily climbing up to huge heights to do so. But in Marc Ecko's new graffiti-laced action game, Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, you'll have plenty of chances to do both. As a mixture of third-person fighting, Prince of Persia-like acrobatics, and frequent stops to get your name up on various surfaces around the near-future city of New Radius, there's a good deal of variety to the action in the game. But Getting Up has more to offer than just exciting gameplay. The story, dialogue, soundtrack, and look of the game all contribute a great deal to the flavor and authenticity of the package. The end result is an interesting and often-exciting adventure that should be appealing to most action-game fans, but will probably hold extra appeal if you're at all interested in graffiti and the culture surrounding it.
It all starts with a quest for underground fame, but by the time you're finished, Trane will be more famous (and more notorious) than he could have ever imagined.
The game puts you in the role of a writer named Trane. We mean writer in the "likes to write his name on walls with markers, stickers, and paint" sense. The game opens with Trane hanging off the side of some sort of flying ship and wondering how, exactly, he got himself into this predicament. The rest of the game is, for the most part, one big flashback. But never fear--you'll eventually deduce how, exactly, Trane got himself into that mess. What starts out as a simple coming-of-age, lone-graffiti-artist-against-a-rival-gang sort of tale eventually goes into a completely different direction. When you start out, you'll be motivated to strike back against the Vandals of New Radius, or VaNR. But by the end of the game, you'll have taken things to that proverbial "other level," where you'll be lashing out at the government from behind a paint roller. The game essentially becomes Turk 182 at some point.
New Radius is, in effect, a retro-futuristic take on New York City. If you've followed graffiti culture at all (or if you watch the interesting 30-minute documentary on the topic that comes with the limited-edition version of the game), you'll know about things like New York's silver, graff-proof clean trains, which were easily buffed at the station and made sure that any graffiti applied lasted for only a day. These same trains get rolled out into New Radius as part of the mayor's efforts to clean up the city. But while you'll notice some elements of old New York in there, New Radius is really a near-futuristic setting. The mayor enforces the streets with the help of jack-booted armored troops known as the CCK. In addition to these elite orange-and-silver guards, you'll also encounter lesser resistance from the Vandal Squad, regular cops, and, of course, writers from rival gangs. Overall, the setting and the storyline provide a great deal of atmosphere to the game, and authentic-sounding dialogue further helps things along.
That dialogue is presented by a wide array of actors and actresses, as well as a few rappers. Talib Kweli provides the voice of Trane, and 3rd Bass' MC Serch gives Trane the gas face in his role as your graffiti rival, Gabe. You'll also hear P. "Leave off the P." Diddy, Adam "Still the best Batman" West, Charlie Murphy, Giovanni Ribisi, and more. With few exceptions, the voice work sounds great, and their work brings some real weight to the proceedings.
The gameplay in Getting Up is usually structured like this: You get into a new area, and there are one or more primary targets that you have to get to and paint. There are also plenty of secondary surfaces that you can paint on to earn additional rep points, which figure into the game's unlockables. Finally, there are also freeform challenges that ask you to, for example, use a marker tag 12 times on one roll-up door before time expires. To help find all of these spots, you can go into an intuition view mode that puts large Xs on your targets for a few seconds. Additional (and licensed) icons appear in the levels that let you unlock additional songs, and you'll also be able to snap photos of tags left behind by legends. Some of those legends even turn up in the game, though they're really only there to quickly advance the story--you don't have much actual interaction with them.
Actually painting in Getting Up is a pretty easy process that doesn't take a whole lot of skill. When you get near a surface that's part of an objective, an outline of your tag or piece will appear. You can change the size of it or cycle between a few different options, but then you hold down the paint button and go to work. You need to move your arm around to paint, and if you remain in one spot for too long, you'll cause drips. In addition, you're trying to beat a clock. If you cause drips, fail to beat the timer, or don't make your piece big enough, you won't earn the maximum amount of rep for that spot. Since some of the unlockables you get with rep points include increased damage with weapons and a few other handy new fighting moves, it's in your best interest to go as big and as quickly as you possibly can--while still watching out for drips, of course. At the start of the game, painting takes a fair amount of time. But right around the part of the game where you'll probably start to feel that it's tedious, you unlock the ability to paint much faster. There's an increased danger of drips when painting in fast mode, but it's still not very difficult.