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Review: Graffiti game fresh and fun

By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service

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"Getting Up" centers around graffiti artist Trane's efforts to gain respect and expose a corrupt mayor.

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Video Games
Arts, Culture and Entertainment

If you need proof that video games are fusing with the music, film and fashion industries, look no further than "Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure."

Designed by Marc Ecko, the visionary behind one of today's most successful youth clothing and accessories brands, "Getting Up" combines graffiti art with street fighting and is fueled by a hip-hop soundtrack and Hollywood voice talent.

This ambitious title isn't without its problems, but the end result is a fresh and fun adventure that should satisfy mature gamers.

"Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure," which could very well be the longest name for a video game besides "Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Video Game of the Movie," stars a hoodie-clad Trane, an up-and-coming graffiti artist in a futuristic city called New Radius. This New York City-like metropolis is run by an oppressive, neo-Fascist government.

The goal of the game is to gain respect and recognition by spray-painting vehicles, brick walls, skyscrapers and billboards, all the while evading authorities, rival crews and street thugs. The more vertical you can climb to wield your aerosol can, the greater your reputation grows as you evolve from "Toy" to "Writer" to "King."

Trane also vows to expose the corrupt mayor and set New Radius free from its tyrannical government.

Gamers also will be awarded with extras -- such as unlockable music or new artwork to spray -- by finding secret items or completing one of the minigames such as covering the side of a van with eight "tags" without getting caught. You also must solve puzzles, such as finding a way out of an alleyway.

Getting Up features the work of more than 65 celebrated "graf artists," six of whom play as characters in the game, such as Cope 2, Futura and Obey: Shepard Fairey. Other characters come to life with the help of well-known talent such as Sean "Diddy" Combs, Adam West ("Batman"), Rosario Dawson ("Rent"), Brittany Murphy ("Sin City"), Giovanni Ribisi ("Cold Mountain"), Andy Dick ("Zoolander") and Charlie Murphy ("Jungle Fever").

Hip-hop artist Talib Kweli lends his voice to Trane, and provides one of the main soundtrack songs. Other hip-hop tunes are from the likes of Pack FM, Pharoahe Monch and an exclusive remix of Notorious B.I.G.'s "Who Shot Ya" by Serj from the band System of a Down.

But until you get the hang of it, controlling Trane can be a difficult task. For example, spray-painting on a surface requires you to simultaneously press down on the left and right shoulder buttons, then press a button to ready the paint can, followed by moving the controller's left analog stick back and forth to tag the area.

Mastering the fighting moves, such as punching, kicking and grappling, also will require some patience.

Another issue: You are limited on where you can go in New Radius. Even though you'll see a huge and bustling city, you can't roam wherever you like as you can in open-ended video games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. If you try to venture off the block, you'll run into an invisible wall.

Overall, however, this action-heavy adventure, which serves as an homage to graffiti's rich culture -- and perhaps a nod to fighting games, popular music and urban fashion -- should provide many memorable hours of non-repetitive game play.

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