In Marc Ecko's Getting Up, you play the part of Coltrane or "Trane" (voiced by hip-hop star Talib Kweli) -- a small-time graffiti artist looking to make a name for himself around New Radius-a neo-punk futuristic version of New York City. When the game begins, Trane is a "Toy" or amateur graf artist on the lookout for places to get his name out there and become something more. Using his awesome athletic abilities Trane climbs, shimmies, jumps and slides through a myriad of sites to get his name up in the highest and most visible places and earn respect. With a banging soundtrack (arranged by P. Diddy and RJD2,) an A-list cast of voices (that includes P. Diddy, Rosario Dawson, Adam West, Brittany Murphy, Charlie Murphy, Giovanni Ribisi among others) and awesome graphics, this game delivers, hard.
Starting out Trane has modest skills but the more he tags, hitting all the prime spots (found using your intuition which seeks out the spots and highlights them briefly for you) he increases his reputation and along the way runs into some real old-school taggers who teach him a few of the tricks of the trade.
The game play controls are pretty easy to master, especially in the first few levels which provide tutorials as new skills come up. Don't think this game is all tagging though, the city of New Radius does not take too kindly to these graffiti artists bombing the walls around town, the police force, the CCK are equipped to stop you at all costs. Using a combination of stealth, brute strength and athleticism, Trane battles his way to hitting all the hot spots and throwing his tags up.
The tagging controls are relatively simple, if a little slow at first, but right around when it gets annoyingly slow, you get upgraded and it becomes significantly faster. To spray you walk to the surface and an outline of the tag will appear. Using the analog stick you go around the outlines being careful not to spray too much in one place or you will get drips which will lower the amount of rep points that you earn with each tag. In addition to the primary tags that you need to get up, there are secondary ones and challenges placed around the levels that will serve to help you in increase your reputation, your strength and painting skills. The challenges include tasks such as tagging a wall 9 times in a specific amount of time or tagging over posters and the like. For the most part none of them are overly challenging but do provide a nice change of pace from the other tagging requirements.
The tags themselves look awesome and as you progress you learn more and more different ones and different styles, ultimately being able to throw up spray tags, roller paint ones, wheat paste ones and murals to get your name out there and get a reputation.
While some parts of the game may seem reminiscent of other recent favorites (The Warriors, acrobatics from Prince of Persia) for the most part the game delivers an original set-up and an in-depth journey into the world of underground graffiti.
Most levels can be played with relative ease, although some missions are time and motion sensitive (like riding on the outside of a subway car and tagging it as it goes along) and may take a couple tries to get it right. In the end, the roughly 13-15 hours of game play provide some top notch gaming, with high-end graphics, one of the best soundtracks made for a game in recent history and excellent voice acting; this game satisfies and will leave you wanting to go out and start tagging for real.
Getting Up is available now for PS2, X-Box and PC platforms.
Also available is a limited edition version that comes in a collectible tin container and features a "Making Of" documentary, a soundtrack CD, a silver marker to let you start writing yourself and a copy of Marc Ecko's "black book" which features his process during the creation of the game.
Learning Curve: approximately 30-60 minutes
// Score out out 10 //