Friday, 14 April 2017

Marc Ecko's Getting Up Contents Under Pressure/ Xbox

A graffiti artists heaven in a game world and still today a very impressive game to look at and play. Marc Ecko, of Ecko clothing fame and Atari of ET infamy, teamed up for this title, which is a joy to play whether or not you are a graffiti artist yourself.
I happen to be a graffiti artist, so when this game was announced it was music to my ears (funnily enough it also has a cracking soundtrack).
In the years before this game came out, when I was at the peak of my own graffiti bombing, I had often said that a graffiti game would be an amazing game to bring out (Jet Set Radio, doesn't count). Back then I didn't understand the powers of the mind and matter manifestations, so it was a shock when those prays were answered. Today I expect nothing less of my thoughts and I am way more cautious with them. I remember picking the game up from Game and rushing back home to play. As soon as it loaded up, I was hooked and played nothing else until it had been completed around a week later. Had I not been a graffiti artist, I feel that I still would of been hooked on a game that has a lot to offer to the average gamer.

'Let's go and explore the game.'

The Plot

There really doesn't need to be one, but in order to make the game playable to all including people like myself who have studied graffiti for many years, it does have one. You are in control of the protagonist (graffiti artist) Trane.

'Trane is like many graffiti artists, that I have encountered during my years of being a writer on the outskirts of the local graffiti scene; young, traumatised and pissed off for some reason.'

Trane's father was murdered, after being hired as an assassin by a corrupt politician, who is hell bent on staying in power and covering his tracks as he dishes out his shady dealings. The backstory is revealed to Trane through another graffiti artist, Decoy, who is then also conveniently murdered by another assassin. Trane, originally set out to make a name for himself as a graffiti artist, but after his encounter with Decoy, he also gets wrapped up in attempting to put a stop to Snug's (corrupt politician) murderous reign. Along the way, Trane will get up in some mind boggling spots, battle his rival graffiti artists and the CCK, as well as crossing paths with some of the legends of the New York graffiti scene.

Gameplay (Beat 'em up, Action Adventure)

Plot aside, this is where the game really entertains, especially if you happen to be a graffiti artist with a love for the origins of graff. The game has many aspects to the way that you can play it, as it offers a 3d platform experience when putting up graffiti, options of stealth, when taking down enemies and bombing, or straight up kicking butt, beat em up style. It isn't an open world, but there is a lot of freedom to move around, as one of the key parts of the play is to get your graffiti art up as much as possible, meaning that you are able to climb up onto the side of bridges, scale motorway signs and train carts, as well as tagging the sides of buildings and vehicles. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are also opportunities to seek out and photograph legend graffiti art, which isn't always a straightforward quest; the options for tagging and painting are fantastic also, not strictly limited to a marker and a paint can, but also including such things as wheat paste and stencils. The game plays from beginning to end in a linear way. There aren't any side quests, so it won't take many hours to get through, but there is replay value, simply because there are a lot of (sometimes hidden) collectables and a lot of different graffiti designs that you probably won't use all in the first play through. Putting graffiti up, is smooth. I was so impressed with the mechanics for doing so and the abundance of ways in which you can get your tag up, whilst noting that a lot of the burner designs are from graffiti legends, such as Arab. The more that you advance in the game, the more designs that will become available, will be able to be put up with more accessories, such as the above mentioned, stencils and wheat paste. Given that Marc Ecko, was a graffiti artist himself, shows in the time that has been put into making this part of the game as authentic as possible. As you journey through the game, you get to visit some well known graffiti hotspots, such as the legendary ghost yard, whilst interacting with some cool muthafucka's from the real life graffiti scene and it is this, although short, that buzzed me the most; for a brief moment I felt like I was meeting them face to face. To show some love for those artists, I have chosen to write about my personal history of studying their art next.

In order of influence that each artist has affected my own graffiti journey.

  • Seen -  One of the coolest cats from the old-school (as far back as you can go into the New York scene) is Seen, who in my eyes, painted one of the dopest spots ever, the Hollywood sign. Still painting today, but mainly tattooing, I was feeling the art of Seen, right from the first time that I saw him talking about do-das's, in Style Wars. His style of painting, was style, whilst keeping the shape of the letters simple; simple enough that you can see clearly in every piece that it is Seen. His blockbuster burners and partnership with Mad and Duster, blew my mind everytime that I was flicking through the likes of Subway Art. You meet Seen in the ghost yard.
  • T-Kid - Styles for miles and the attitude to match. T-Kid, another artist still around today, is very close to Seen, in terms of how much time I have spent looking at his art. Always one for having bright and wild burners, that just trip off of the wall. I remember looking through a Danish graffiti mag that I owned, looking through T-Kid's black book burners that accompanied his interview, thinking fuck me, even his drawings are mind bending. T-Kid, was almost always in the graffiti mags that I religiously went through in my youth, looking for inspiration. T-Kid, teaches you about burners.  
  • Cope2 - When I think of Cope2, I think sheer volume of work. Cope2, has been rocking it almost non stop, since the mid 80's and as a result, he has become one of the most successful graffiti artists, in terms of making money and public recognition, notably being one of the artists to have his work plastered onto Adidas that's fucking dope. Cope2, is a mean looking dude, who paints with a style that says fuck you toy. I have seen various documentaries, where he shows off this attitude whilst painting, walking into yards like he owns them for his graffiti to be displayed. None surprisingly, you meet Cope2, at the layup.
  • Futura - Never an artist that was heavily advertised as I was researching many hours of the who's who in the graffiti world, as I was developing my own styles, but always one that when eventually coming into view of my eyes, that would make me go 'wow.' Futura, was ahead of the times. Hence the very fitting tag and a style that was to be emulated with the 80's acid trippers of the UK graffiti scene. Futura, tags your black-book in the street.
  • Sane Smith - I can remember the tag Sane, but it wasn't until many years later that I began to see the tag Smith. Smith is the brother of Sane, whose work he has kept alive since his death in the 80's. 
  • Obey - Not a fan of his work or the whole street art movement, but I can appreciate his success as an artist and can say that he was one of a handful of artist who came to my home town, being commissioned to have his work displayed on the local metro system. This was a few years prior to the youth walking around with his tag plastered all over their clothing. 'Obey.' How about fuck you? Jokes. 
And back to the game-play. Marc Ecko has stated that he wasn't entirely happy with the production of the game. To be honest, from an artist's point of view, I can see why that would be (perfectionism), but this was a long time ago; original Xbox. That far back. Looking at the game today, you could say that it was a massive achievement to have such a complex game on the systems of that day. It is still crisp looking. The graphics on the Xbox for me looked and still do look tops, even in HD. It is voice acted brilliantly (except for the artist cameos), with the likes of Charlie Murphy (R.I.P) and Talib Kweli, lending their voices to characters. The soundtrack is banging (Mobb Deep). There are many different aspects to the game-play, as previously mentioned, there is a lot going on on the screen at any one time; for example painting the side of a moving train is highly impressive. You can shift the camera around and the controls are very satisfying, even with that big ass Xbox controller. There was a mass of information on one disk, with small loading times. All in all, I am surprised that the whispered rumour of a sequel has never materialised, as I can only speculate as to what could be achieved with today's generation of consoles. Sadly, graffiti and Marc Ecko, have probably had their time in the limelight, so another game may never come. Would I want to manifest another? The answer is not really. I had my time too, with hip hop and with graffiti, watching now, only from a distance, whilst painting for leisure. Regardless, Getting Up, will probably end up as one of those games that finds its way onto hidden gems lists, so best off, go grab yourself that sealed, limited edition, with soundtrack, whilst it's still cheap. Overall Getting Up, is a coming of age type of scenario, with a hint of social oppression, documenting the trials and tribulations that some of the youth of the Western world go through, just to be noticed. You can play the game for what it is striving to be or you can get lost in a world of 'graff' that you may find safer and more accessible from your video games console.
For the sheer fact that Getting Up, touched all the right spots in my youth, I score it a straight 10 out of 10.
Let me know in the comments, if you have played this game and what you think of it.
Happy Gaming.