The great games are rarely the unexpected ones anymore. In an industry of hype, commercialism, and sequels, no one would expect a game slapped with Marc Ecko's name on it to be a success. In fact, no one did, including the mainstream gaming media, the mayor of New York (who wanted it banned), or the gamers themselves. Welcome to Getting Up, a game that has a single purpose: to slap everyone one of its detractor's in the face.
No one is going to be sure where this one came from or how it ended up being such a shocker, but this is a wildly fun title, made better by a sense of style and available options to the player. It's not completely together given its somewhat sloppy feel. That comes from the combat, a weak beat-em-up that offers plenty of moves, but not the precise control needed for the game's engine.
You'll be battling a variety of foes in an effort to gain street cred. By using various means, you'll be plastering graffiti everywhere in between battles. The system used here is wonderful, using the left analog stick to control the characters arm and square (and later triangle) to tag. Filling in a variety of pre-set pieces (and choices are customizable as more are unlocked in the black book), you'll be timed, in danger, or being stealthy to avoid detection to spray your piece where appropriate. It's never tiring, even when the action is spaced liberally.
For the most part, the system works. The well-planned control scheme makes jumping simple and effective. Rarely will you fall at the expense of health. There are plenty of moments where you'll be leaping from building to building, and without the assist, Getting Up would lose a lot. The camera stays put here, though during fights, it's not as consistent.
One of the issues causing problems with Getting Up is the atmosphere. The graphics do a fine job of representing a slum, and the graffiti stands out against the bleak, depressing walls. It's the unbelievably cheap dialogue, spouting off pathetic phrases and overused rough language, that make the entire experience cheaper than it should be. It's impossible to take this story of an oppressed 20-something artist seriously because of it.
That aside, Getting Up offers some unique scenarios, and does a fantastic job of keeping the player in the game. While hanging off the side of a speeding subway car, it's easy to get lost in the action. The addition of "intuition" is necessary. With the tap of a trigger button, you'll be pointed to your next destination. There's no reason to be lost in Getting Up's environments.
The development team also made the right choice to avoid collectables. Trane has plenty of paint with him at all times, so you're never rushing around the stage looking to pick up a can. There are other collectibles, including a blatant promotion for Apple's Ipod (as if it needed it), and extra game modes to uncover, including a multi-player only fighting mini-game that only ends up exposing the game's loose combat engine further.
While it's initially difficult to get over the weaker areas of Marc Ecko's first foray into the gaming medium, as you're drawn in (awful dialogue or not), you're compelled to continue. For as far fetched as this is (the police really do have an extreme vendetta), it's a message buried inside a mildly unique and interesting cover. It takes time to work, but Getting Up pulls itself together for a shockingly good time.
(**** out of *****)