Marc Eckos Getting Up Contents Under Pressure Review

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Graphics: 6.0
Sound : 7.0
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 5.0
Overall : 7
Review by Stevie Smith
In Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, players assume the role of ‘Thane’ a young street-wise graffiti artist living in the city of New Radius, which is home to Mayor Sung’s big brother, nanny-state style of governing. Sickened by the upsurge in local tyranny and exploitation, Thane brings his own brand of war to the streets in a bid to rise beyond the ranks of rival graffiti gangs to become the All City King, uncover a massive governmental conspiracy, and bring down the nefarious Mayor. Imagine it if you will: What if graffiti could change the world?

More than anything else, Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is an intriguing title in terms of gameplay; indeed, it’s not everyday that players get the chance to deface public property with the possibility of repercussions that can be settled with nothing more than flailing fisticuffs. Getting Up is all about nurturing reputation, it’s all about being better than the rest, and it’s all about self-worth in a world gone mad—much like real life. Granted, the game’s central graffiti-based social comment is padded by limited third-person free-roaming and bursts of violent hand-to-hand combat, but it’s not difficult to see that Getting Up is the view from those oppressed artists that are forced to produce their work in the dead of night or in dingy and dangerous railway tunnels. This is an interpretation of their lives and what their spray-painted revolution could bring to a world bred on dictatorship and greed. Of course, it’s a complete work of fiction.

Thane hits the streets as a ‘toy’ graffiti artist, unknown and unproven amid the rival graffiti gangs. He’s also restricted by a somewhat limited repertoire where skill is concerned, but fairly soon his imagery begins to draw attention—the wrong kind of attention—as the Vandals of New Radius (VaNR) close in and deliver a beat down to Thane in order to keep his rising art off their streets. Naturally, this makes Thane want to ‘get up’ even more than before, and he hauls his beaten body away to begin his quest to widen his skills, extend his ‘black book’ of usable marker tags, spray pieces, and logo stickers, to exact his revenge against VaNR and become All City King of New Radius.

Graphically, Getting Up performs relatively well, but its characters, environments, fight scenes, and atmospherics do tend to pale in comparison to the Xbox platform’s established frontrunners—which always begs the question: If Halo and Half-Life 2 can do it, why can’t everything else? Character design is perhaps a little too rough-edged and blocky to be deemed as easy on the eye, though everyone in the game is, again, thoroughly passable. Also, animation tends to lack convincing weight of movement from character to character, which damages the game’s immersion level, especially when Thane drops stiffly from height or leaps across gaps with little or no element of believability. Fighting rival graffiti gang members, security guards, police authorities, etc, is frantic and satisfying, perhaps more so because it generally involves flat-out melees and brawling with makeshift weapons thrown into the mix from whatever’s to hand. Environments are obviously gritty and urban while semi-free roaming allows for Thane to scale walls, scramble up pipes, shimmy along ledges, climb fences, and scuttle through ductwork in his quest to apply his ‘art’ where it can best be seen, or to use it to cover up the art of others—both of which improve his reputation. Improved graffiti coverage throughout the city (which is split into levels handily connected by the subway system) leads to Thane’s skill expansion and a much more varied selection of usable graffiti pieces. Also, completing set graffiti tasks from level to level (such as working over ‘X’ examples of someone else’s art while avoiding the gaze of security cameras) also unlocks various game-related goodies, which include concept artwork, fight moves, and characters that can be used in the game’s separate two-player ‘Beat Down Arena’.

Game sound, like the graphics, is typically urban in feel and contains a huge amount of R&B and hip-hop tunes that, while not to the taste of every player, do fit the style of the game perfectly. Littered throughout the game are Apple iPod icons that, when collected, unlock specific tunes on a massive soundtrack list. Beyond the musical soundtrack of Getting Up, the voiceover work is generally what lumbers the game with an unfortunate ‘M for Mature’ ESRB rating. The in-game performances are all well delivered thanks to a Hollywood cast list that includes the likes of Giovanni Ribisi (Saving Private Ryan), Rosario Dawson (Sin City), Andy Dick (Employee of the Month), Brittany Murphy (8 Mile), MC Serch (3rd Bass), and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, but the audio is thick with derogatory put downs, insults and swearing, which may well alienate a certain sector of the game’s applicable demographic—and if that doesn’t then the Mature rating surely will. Game effects are executed skilfully to create a solid cityscape of sound where homeless bums throw abuse at Thane, whereas passers-by will instantly report his spray-can antics to the authorities, rival gang members throw down insults and belittlement during scuffles, and the buzz of traffic is always humming in the background. Of course, the sound effect quality rises up while actually applying Thane’s talents to hapless property, and the hiss of paint, rattle of spray cans, squeak of markers, and slap of stickers all help pull the player deeper into what is—or perhaps should be—a fairly shallow gaming experience.

Progressing through Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure emerges as far from a gameplay chore and, more than the game’s graphic and aural aesthetics, the attachment built between Thane and the player is quick to form and oddly hard to break considering the lack of genuine mission structure. In essence, Thane merely has to increase the amount of graffiti that he applies throughout the city while seeking revenge, nurtured reputation, and the uncovering of a sinister governmental plot. It’s the standard GTA-inspired narrative undercurrent, and it’s all been done before—and much, much better. However, the simple act of dipping into an eventual wealth of artistic choices for defacing walls, tunnels, vans, railway sidings, trains, highway supports, store fronts, and almost anything else in the game world is something that demands overly long playing sessions. Moreover, the game’s small side quests, such as searching out and photographing the work of graffiti legends—and eventually meeting the artist(s) responsible—also leads to prolonged game time as well as access to even stronger graffiti pieces.

When the pan is in danger of burning because Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure has boiled itself dry, the simple fact of the matter is that it really shouldn’t be as addictive as it is. Its plotline is predictable and nothing out of the ordinary, its visuals are a little disappointing, its audio is overly offensive, and its fighting is never anything more than satisfying. Yet, for all that, selecting a graffiti piece from Thane’s ever expanding ‘black book’ of art, and then applying it beneath the nose of a patrolling guard, or against the clock, is always worthy of gameplay effort. Clearing a derelict building of rival graffiti artists through seemingly relentless hand-to-hand battles and then spraying amusing taunts over their interrupted ‘work’ is strangely appealing, and to simply ‘get in’, ‘get up’, ‘get out’, and get away with it is always a perversely winning combination.