As a newbie indie developer, I’ve decided to support my fellow indies by purchasing indie games that look cool and/or interesting. It is my hope to tap into some sort of indie karma thing, so the support I give to others will eventually come back to me. Selfish, perhaps, but I’m giving back by reviewing the games here.
For my first review, I’d like to call everyone’s attention to a little console gem that most people have never heard of:
Recently I was compelled to purchase this game called Contents Under Pressure, AKA Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, AKA Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. You can imagine how difficult it was to find, yet for some reason I felt that fate was steering me in that direction. Every few weeks I would inevitably bump into someone who had worked on the game, and it seemed that I was destined to purchase it. Finally, I bit the bullet, walked into my local Gamespot store, and walked out carrying the game.
Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is best described as a sleath/action game with a rather unique twist. You aren’t the typical covert secret agent sneaking into enemy terrotory or world-class thief trying to get past deadly traps. Instead, you are an artist. A graffiti artist, named Trane, whose main goal in life is to spray his art everywhere and become the best graffiti artist in the city of New Radius. One snag stands in the way of Trane’s goal. People aren’t too keen on having people spraypaint over their nice clean walls, and the mayor of the city has started a citywide crackdown on graffiti artists. Our plucky spraycan wielder is not to be deterred, and takes it upon himself to buck the system at every opportunity.
Walk softly and carry a big roller
This premise is refreshing. Your primary objective isn’t to lay the smackdown on everyone in sight, but rather to lay art down on every surface in sight! Sneaking past guards and policemen simply to spray a nice piece of artwork over some high, out-of-reach spot was great fun, and something I had never done before in a game. Trane’s journey from obscurity to citywide stardom is a fascinating one, as his motives move beyond simply putting his tag on walls (i.e., “getting up”) to taking down the corrupt city officials via graffiti. As someone who plays video games for the story, it kept me engrossed from beginning to end.
Trane, doing what he does best
Graphics-wise, the game does a nice job. The characters all have their unique look and personality, and the the artists have rendered the urban landscape of New Radius beautifully. From high-rise skyscrapers, to wide concrete highways, to dangerous city streets, you really believe that you are exploring an oppressive city. It’s no Grand Theft Auto, but it does the job. Trane himself performs a number of athletic moves to get around; he shimmies up drainpipes, tightrope-walks over steel beams, leaps off of walls, and many other feats of derring-do to reach that elusive “sweet spot.” Trane either is insane or has a death wish, as he ends up spraying tags in the most dangerous places. From hanging off the edge of a bridge over a busy highway, riding the top of a subway car (nobody in this city seems to ride INSIDE subway cars), or spraying the side of a moving tram over the bay. He’s like a modern day Prince of Persia, armed with a spraycan and paint roller.
From dizzying heights or speeding subway cars, nothing stops Trane
As for the stealth elements, avoiding the bad guys is pretty easy. New Radius apparently attracts the stupidest police force ever, as they’ve obviously got the memory of a fish. If they see you, they will chase you, but duck out of sight around a corner and they instantly get confused. They will stop, scratch their heads, look confuzzled, and say stuff like “Where’d he go?” This is, indirectly, a good thing, because if the enemies catch up to you, you are in trouble. Trane is confronted with a multitude of heavily armored guards holding massive guns, and is expected to fend them off with naught but his fists, spraycan, and indestructable paint roller. The combat is understandably tough, but there are a number of fighting moves that Trane can use to defend himself. Personally, I am an action moron and would usually get myself killed, so I concentrated on the stealth elements and ran like hell when I was spotted.
Trane getting his ass kicked. This happened to me a lot.
The game isn’t without its share of flaws, but they are relatively minor. The level design gets a bit lazy toward the end, where you’ll see stormdrains and pipes in locations that seem out-of-place and are there solely for the purpose of grabbing onto. The game also gets a bit more combat dependent in places, which made the game much harder for me since I was concentrating on the stealth elements. The final battle was insanely hard for someone who hadn’t practiced all the fighting moves, so I had to replay the tutorial level for a refresher.
It’s the old lighter-and-spraycan flame trick!
Suffice to say, I enjoyed this game a LOT. The premise is unique, the levels are varied and exciting, and it’s got pretty graffiti artwork. Despite the annoying combat sequences, it’s well worth checking out. That is, you should check it out after you’ve played The Shivah. I mean, come on.