follows the story of Trane, an up-and-coming graffitti artist looking to become one of the best. This, of course, means that he has to pick out the biggest, showiest places to tag in order to get his name out. Based on the number of people who simply want to kick Trane’s ass (which is every other person he meets), its clear that Trane has stepped on quite a few toes while trying to reach his goals. Trane’s story begins with him simply trying to get back at a rival gang, the Vandals of New Radius (VaNR), and their leader, Gabe. Things soon elevate to something much larger. What starts as a simple story of rivalries becomes a giant government plot with Trane at the center of it all.
Gameplay is original, though it does tend to break down into a rather formulaic structure. Things never degrade to the point where the action is tedious, though there were certainly times where I found myself sighing heavily as I said, “Here we go again…”
The game’s structure usually breaks down to entering a new level and having to tag a number of primary targets with graffiti. In addition, there are a number of secondary surfaces that can be defaced, earning additional rep points. More rep points mean better unlockables, including new fighting moves and added damage with certain weapons. Freeform Challenges round out the number of things you can do in any given level. These typically boil down to timed modes where you have to put so many of a certain mark in a set number of areas before time runs out. Most of these areas aren’t obvious and require the use of a special Intuition mode that will highlight surfaces for a few seconds.
One of the few downsides is that you aren’t allowed to paint wherever you want. Instead you’re limited to certain areas. When the game first kicks off, this feels like a bigger problem than it actually is given the number of places you can paint and the challenge of getting to them. Most require some tricky platforming and problem-solving to get to, setting up situations similar to those found in Prince of Persia. One of the more thrilling challenges has Trane tagging the sides of subway cars as they speed though tunnels. Areas like these help to lessen the disappointment of not being able to just paint anywhere.
Another, slightly more disappointing aspect is that you can’t make your own tags. I was actually really surprised to see that a create-a-tag option wasn’t included given the personal nature of graffiti art and the gaming industry’s recent movement towards more personalized content. While allowances can be made for the limited tagging areas, having to put someone else’s tag on an area I busted my ass getting to feels a little less fulfilling.