Imagine waking up one morning to find the walls of your house covered with graffiti. Would you feel outraged? Would you be furious at the vandals that violated your property? But what if the graffiti was truly beautiful with intricate patters and brilliant colors? What if you knew the artwork was a statement against oppression and an attempt to unveil the truth behind a terrible conspiracy?
Ignoring his grandmother’s warnings, Trane stepped out of the apartment. He did not need anybody to tell him about the dangers of the streets. Ever since Mayor Sung started his “Review, Rebuild, and Renew” program, things had been extremely difficult for graffiti artists. An elite group of police officers, known as CCK patrolled the streets every night. They did not just arrest people who wrote graffiti. The CCK members were violent, vengeful hunters. Resisting arrest could easily mean death. Yes, Trane knew it would be extremely dangerous. But graffiti was the young man’s calling.
In the beginning it was all about fame and recognition. Trane wanted to “get up” or get his name up on whatever building, van, or subway train he could find. He wanted a place among the graffiti legends. But it wasn’t long before things took an unexpected turn. It all started when that jerk from the Vandals of New Radius gang attacked Trane. Now it was not just a matter of getting his work noticed. Trane wanted revenge and he set off on a crusade against the Vandals. While trying to avoid the police, Trane struggled to prove his superiority over the gang. He went over their graffiti with his own designs. He fought the gang members to reclaim their turf. He was young, inexperienced, overly- confident, and downright foolish.
But in time, Trane would learn and he would grow wiser. The city of New Radius held many dirty secrets. In his struggle to stand against an entire gang, Trane was about to uncover a great conspiracy. The corrupt and twisted city needed someone to speak the truth. Someone had to speak up against the oppression and make the people see past the veil of lies. It wasn’t just about getting famous. Graffiti was about to gain a whole new meaning. It was time for a rebellion.
Marc Ecko’s Getting Up is a refreshingly original game from Atari. In the role of the aspiring graffiti artist Trane, you will be avoiding the police, fighting gang members, and trying to make a name for yourself by redecorating the city. Between numerous graffiti designs, diverse urban environments to explore, and rather unique challenges that rise from the nature of the game, Getting Up can easily be an entertaining experience.
Among the strongest elements of Getting Up is the game’s atmosphere. Ecko Unltd and The Collective have succeeded in bringing a dark and twisted city to life. The police guards patrolling the streets and the mayor’s continued propaganda immediately create a feeling of oppression. The quirky gang members and enigmatic graffiti legends you encounter are extremely fitting for the game. Getting Up manages to take something many people would consider blatant vandalism and turns it into a form of revolution. Even at the beginning of the game when Trane is only writing graffiti for fame, you will know that something is definitely wrong with New Radius. Why is the mayor so adamantly against graffiti artists? Why are the heavily armed CCK officers necessary? Getting Up convinces you that you are making a powerful statement by defying authority. Wandering the dark streets of the city, players will likely find themselves immersed into the game’s gripping atmosphere. Once you complete the game, you might even see graffiti from a whole new perspective.
Getting Up also tells a compelling story. The highlight of the storyline is Trane’s evolution throughout the game. At the outset of the game, Trane is a hard-headed, self-righteous young man seeking greater glory. During the early parts of the game, story development is fairly slow. Players will spend quite a bit of time simply fighting against the Vandals of New Radius gang. But just when things begin to get repetitive, Getting Up starts revealing the greater plot. Once you begin to understand the reasons behind the strict government control, you may find yourself much more compelled to successfully complete the missions. As the story gets more interesting, the free-spirited rebel Trane also begins to grow. Trane begins to see past gaining fame and recognition. Getting the citizens to see the truth becomes the young man’s mission. By the time you reach the end of the game, you may find Trane to be a much more likeable character. Despite the slow beginning, Getting Up has the kind of storyline to keep players interested.
Getting Up is played from a third-person perspective. The controls are intuitive and will be easily mastered by players familiar with action or action- adventure games. However the actual game play in Getting Up is very different than your run-of-the-mill action- adventure offering. During the vast majority of the levels, the objective is to write graffiti on a number of key spots. Trane is equipped with a true graffiti artist’s intuition. When players enter the intuition view and move the camera to look around the environment, Trane automatically spots the best places to write graffiti. Some of these “sweet spots” make up the primary objectives of the level. In order to proceed, Trane has to find a way to reach and cover each of these areas with some form of artwork. Many of the levels also have spots that serve as secondary objectives or freeform challenges.
Actually getting to the graffiti spots is the true challenge in Getting Up. During the early parts of the game, many of the areas will be easily accessible. Trane will encounter small obstacles as the game allows players to get accustomed to the controls. However, once you get past the introductory levels, finding your way around the game’s different areas will become noticeably more challenging. Many locations will be swarming with members of the CCK. As security cameras or police helicopters scan the area for intruders, players will have to sneak around and act quickly to avoid detection. In addition, players are required to carefully survey each location to determine the correct way to reach graffiti spots. Quite a number of the graffiti “sweet spots” are high above the ground and may initially seem unreachable. But careful exploration will reveal the correct path. Players can expect to scale a number of buildings, hangd from dangerous ledges, and make many daring jumps in order to reach their objectives.
Creating the graffiti does require some direct involvement on the part of the player. At the beginning of each level players have an opportunity to choose the designs they want to be available during the mission. When Trane is in front of a graffiti spot, the game will show a white outline of one of the designs Trane brought for the mission. Most of the time, players can choose the size of the graffiti and switch to a different design. However, sometimes Trane will be required to use a specific design on special spots.
Upon selecting a template and the size of the graffiti, players can enter the graffiti mode. Trane will position himself in front of the design and pull out an aerosol can. Players guide Trane around the graffiti design and get him to spray from the aerosol can with the click of a button. There is no need to worry about switching colors or actually working on any of the details. When players spray around a certain area, it will automatically fill with the right colors to create the selected design. However, players do need to make sure they do not spray over a specific area for too long. When too much paint is applied to a specific part, the area will start glowing red. If players continue to spray, Trane will drip paint and part of the graffiti will be ruined. Trane also cannot continue to spray indefinitely. As he continues to spray, the pressure in his aerosol can will decline. When the pressure is too low, players have to stop for a moment before they can continue to spray. When a sufficient amount of the template is filled in, the game will automatically complete any remaining sections and the graffiti will be ready.
If all you want to do is complete the objectives and move onto the next level, you do not need to worry about drips or making the graffiti as pretty as possible. However, players can earn reputation or rep points for each piece of graffiti they complete. The number of points you receive depends on a certain number of criteria. Players will earn extra points for completing a large-sized graffiti as opposed to a small one. Finishing the artwork with no drips will also earn you extra points. Finally, as soon as you start spraying, a clock will appear on the top right of the screen. This shows the amount of time you are allowed to take to fill in the entire template. If you finish writing within the designated period, you will once again earn additional points. The game also awards writing graffiti on a particularly dangerous spot or going over another piece. However, since the graffiti spots are predefined, players will not be able to influence whether or not they get the “heaven spot” or “going over” bonuses.
The points earned by completing graffiti are used to unlock various bonuses. There are fairly standard bonuses like concept art or additional combos to use in combat. Players can also enhance the battle arena mode featured in Getting Up. The arena gives players a chance to engage in two-player combat against each other. Earning reputation points can give access to additional characters and stages in the arena mode.
As you proceed through the game, different types of artwork will become accessible. At the outset of the game, Trane will only have access to simple types of predominantly text-based graffiti. However, once you complete a few levels, Trane’s collection will start to grow. He will start creating more complex pieces and gain access to new tools. For instance, in addition to using aerosol cans, Trane will learn to paint with a roller brush. He will also get a wheat paste squeegee. Instead of painting on a surface directly, the wheat paste squeegee allows Trane to apply glue and cover the area with posters. The wide variety of artwork available in the game keeps things interesting. The slightly different implementation of using the aerosol cans, roller brush, and the wheat paste squeegee keeps the process of creating the artwork from becoming repetitive.
The game is split into eleven chapters. Each chapter is further divided into smaller locations with their own objectives. Each chapter takes place at a different location around New Radius. Starting at the apartment block where Trane lives, the adventure will take players through subway tunnels, gang hideouts, and freeways into high-security government buildings. A true daredevil, Trane will write graffiti while hanging onto the side of a fast-moving subway cart in one level, while dangling from the dizzying heights of a high-rise building in the next. Getting Up succeeds in offering a diverse set of locations to keep players interested without compromising the underlying theme of the game. The environments usually have a dark and edgy feel that reinforces the game’s atmosphere and fits well into the storyline.
Exploring urban environments to find the best spots for graffiti is not the only thing you will be doing in Getting Up. Since the streets are under heavy police patrol and many members of the Vandals of New Radius gang are at large, Trane will have to engage in a fair amount of combat. Trane is capable of sneaking, which will allow you to safely navigate certain areas without getting into fights. It is also possible to sneak up on enemies from behind and knock them out with a single hit. However, Trane will frequently be unable to avoid combat. Most of your opponents will engage you in melee combat. Occasionally, especially later in the game, you will run into enemies that will wield guns. Trane is equipped with several punch and kick combinations that will work well against most enemies. He can also block against attacks, perform a dodge move, or attempt to grapple his opponent. The grappling can be particularly effective when you are fighting a single enemy. As soon as you initiate a grapple, you will have to repeatedly tap the punch button to overpower your enemy. If you are successful, you can hit your opponents several times and inflict heavy damage before letting him or her go.
In addition to a health bar, Trane has a skill bar displayed on the top left corner of the screen. As long as the bar is not completely empty, Trane can execute power moves. These attacks are effective in tearing through enemy defenses and can easily turn many fights in your favor. You can recharge your skill bar by attacking your opponents with regular attacks. Another type of special move Trane can perform is insults. By performing this move, Trane can humiliate his enemies during a fight. When the regular attacks, power combos, grappling, and insults are not enough, Trane can also rely on melee weapons. Quite a number of objects can serve as weapons in Getting Up. Trane can use anything from the lid of a trash can to a crude club made from a broken piece of furniture. Even a basketball can serve as a weapon you can throw at your enemies. Since they inflict particularly heavy damage, it is generally a good idea to use weapons whenever you can find them. The combat in Getting Up is typically on the easy side. There are a couple of challenging fights that players might have to try several times. However, brawling with various gang members or CCK officers is usually entertaining and does not get in the way of story development or take away the focus from graffiti.
While Marc Ecko’s Getting Up has numerous strong elements, the game does have a few problems that are somewhat detrimental to the overall experience. The first problem is the slow story development during the very early parts of the game. While the game does a decent job of introducing players to its core mechanics and the overall setting, very little seems to happen during a few of the early levels. Perhaps it would have been nicer to include more of a detailed sub-storyline before getting into the core plot of the game in the later levels. Fortunately, the excellent atmosphere of Getting Up and the interesting story developed in the later levels more than makes up for this issue.
There are also a few small problems with the graphics. For instance, in certain areas, the decorations on the walls seem to disappear if you move the camera. Thankfully, the graphical glitches are minor and do not significantly hurt the experience. But a bigger problem is the camera angle when Trane is working on certain pieces of graffiti. Once players enter graffiti mode, they are limited as to how much they can adjust the camera angle. Unfortunately, some of the fixed angles players have to use while painting make it extremely difficult to see what you are doing. Without being able to clearly see the progress of the graffiti, it becomes all too easy to make mistakes and drip paint. These camera problems do not appear very frequently, but they certainly cause frustration when you encounter them. They should have been avoided altogether.
Overall, Marc Ecko’s Getting Up is a greatly entertaining game with a lot of style. The atmosphere draws you in and keeps you immersed throughout the adventure. The storyline starts slowly, but develops into an interesting tale of conspiracy and corruption. The game offers a great deal of unique challenges due to its underlying graffiti theme. The voice-acting is nicely handled and the characters fit well into the setting. The movies that unravel key parts of the storyline are very artistic. If you are looking for an original game that tries to do something outside of the regular genre boundaries, consider giving Getting Up a try. It might be a great opportunity to connect with your rebellious side. Since the game leaves plenty of loose ends for a sequel, here’s hoping we’ll meet Trane again for more death-defying stunts and graffiti.