Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is that rare console mishmash that works. Mixing a free-roaming “sandbox” style of play with equal parts beat-’em-up and standard, mission-based platformers, it will draw obvious comparisons with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Grand Theft Auto, and The Warriors. And if it falls just short of those three titles as a must-have, that’s not for lack of effort.
Getting Up takes place in New Radius, a NYC clone where “justice has been outlawed,” and it hinges on the belief that revolution starts with an aerosol spray can. This idea is charming, in a Turk 182! kind of way, but it’s also ridiculously out of date. If this were a movie, it would be remembered for its contribution to cheesy “revolution” films from the ’80s and its swell artwork. But it’s not a movie, and the swell artwork and pumping soundtrack (including four Sean Combs-produced exclusive tracks and songs from Jane’s Addiction and RJD2) make up for its otherwise silly shortcomings.
You play as Trane, a “toy” graffiti artist waiting to earn some major street rep by “getting up” all over the city — English translation: you want to tag as many buildings, busses, and trains as you can find to earn points for cool unlocks. This is the best aspect of the game, and it produces some of the better set pieces around. Unfortunately, the stubborn camera often makes it difficult to explore your surroundings, and the overall choppy feel of the non-graffiti-related controls adds equal parts frustration and disappointment to the mix.
Both of these detriments come into play during rumbles, which amount to a lot of kicking and punching. Occasionally, you can throw in some combos to spice up the fighting, or hit your enemies with some stray paint cans or garbage lids. But for the most part, the fighting in Getting Up feels requisite to the game, as opposed to integral to the plot. (The Warriors was a beat-’em-up whose graffiti missions didn’t feel nearly as secondary as the fighting does here.) One thing the combat mode does have going for it is the ability first to stun and then to taunt your enemies mid-beatdown, along with a well-placed bitch slap that can dispose of them quicker than any normal fisticuffs.
Trane has many weapons in his arsenal with which to put his tag down. He starts with simple stickers and marker tags, but the more he “gets up,” the more options for ink he has at his disposal — from aerosol cans and stencils for scribbling to murals and “throw-ups” for when he really needs to lay the paint down. These designs are added to his “black book,” which holds all the patterns he can tag. (The book is also where he collects pages from such graf legends as Seen, Futura2000, and Shepard Fairey, whose art is featured prominently in the game.) There are two basic styles, Freeform and Prime Pieces, the latter of which will earn you the most rep points. Mission objectives and statistic checklists make sure you keep on top of your business.