Publisher: Take-Two Interactive
Developer: Cat Daddy Games
Release Date: October 11, 2005
I really enjoy paintball. It's really an intense sport, full of stealthy maneuvering, exciting stalking, and fierce firefights. The only drawback is the nasty welts you receive if you play outside when it's cold. I still shudder at how close I came to sterility when I think of the fist-sized bruise I received on my inner thigh after one match. When I had the opportunity to play Splat Renegade Paintball, a game based on the intense sport of paintball, I was plenty excited. A first-person shooter in a paintball universe, where getting hit poses no risk of a life without the ability to impregnate a woman? Sign me up!
After spending some time with the game, I found that the mental trauma of playing a bad PC title can cause pain similar to taking a shot to the groin. Starting out, you'll pick your character and then choose whether you want to play Career, Skirmish, Arcade, or Multiplayer. I chose Career mode, which turned out to be a horrible mistake that I ended up regretting. Career Mode, while it sounds interesting, turns out to be a mode where you go through each level with a "team" of paintballers and attempt to be the one who gains the most time in the control zone before time runs out. As you do so, the other team will try to shoot you and stand in the control zone themselves. If you get shot, you respawn back at your base and hoof it back to the control zone.
When I say hoof it, I mean with the hooves of an elderly, crippled goat. Your character moves at a pathetically slow rate, and since the enemy AI, though incredibly inconsistent, does have moments of pinpoint accuracy that Robin Hood would envy, you'll be making the trip quite often. Sprinting doesn't make things go much faster, but it does help. You can also go prone, crouch, and lean around corners. All of these tactics do nothing to help you win the match; if you don't control the zone longer than the other team, you'll have to play again until you can win before proceeding to the next level and repeating the whole agonizing process.
The accuracy of your weapon is absolutely pathetic, and it has no range at all. The shots you fire will arc and fall flat approximately 25 feet away from where you're shooting. This makes almost every firefight you get into a miserable dance consisting of strafing around your enemy, firing indiscriminately, and hoping that you somehow manage to hit someone with your limp shots. By the time you do hit them, your time has expired and you need to start over again. The only saving grace is that you get to see a scantily clad blonde woman during the load screens.
Splat Renegade Paintball is also quite a bit buggy. There are moments when the AI acts brilliantly, hitting you from across the map, arcing the paintball through the air and nailing you in the head with such accuracy that the angle of the shot had to have been determined by an expert in trigonometry. There are also moments where you'll be spotted from behind walls by an enemy that seems psychically connected to your location at all times. To balance out this apparent omnipotence on the part of the AI, they throw in some brilliantly stupid moments as well. Standing still, waiting to get shot, the AI will occasionally offer up such a choice target that only the impotence of your weapon will prevent you from getting a hit. This inconsistency only serves to add to the frustration factor.
Skirmish mode is a bit better, if only because you can choose the level and weapon. However, the same issues that plague Career mode will pop up in Skirmish mode as well. The enemy AI will act inconsistently, and so will your team AI. You have no way to tell your team what you want them to do, so at the beginning of the level, they'll trot off to meet certain doom at the hands of an equally inept enemy. Once you enter the fray, you'll encounter brilliant tactics that you can't escape from, or insanely inane antics that you can't help but laugh at. Lather, rinse, and repeat if desired. The only thing that changes is the scenery.
Speaking of scenery, the graphics are nothing to get excited about either. The models and textures are clean enough and look decent, but they were surpassed years ago by much better games. About the best thing you can say is that when you hit someone with a paintball, it splatters and leaves a mark wherever you hit them. Also, you'll be sure to get a blazing framerate, since the game utilizes technology that wasn't even top of the line in 2002. Character animations are stiff, and when the models take steps, they don't match up with how fast they are moving or how far they traveled.
Equally horrible are the music and sound effects. The music is absolutely generic and might make you cringe a little, and it plays throughout the entire match, rendering useless any sort of sound effects you might hear to identify the location of the enemy. Thankfully, you can turn off the music and just listen to the sound effects instead. Wait, what's this? Sound effects are basically useless as well and consist of a simple click for each time you pull the trigger. Footfalls do actually make noise, which is probably one of the most intelligent moves that the development team made. Not only do they make noise, but the noise also changes depending upon what surface you are on.
To escape the horrible AI, I decided that some multiplayer action might be in order. Since no one else I know owns the game or was willing to purchase it to participate in a LAN battle, I tried going online to meet some opponents. Of course, absolutely no one was online playing the game, which made multiplayer aspect difficult to test out.
Probably the best feature of Splat Renegade Paintball is the ability to make your own maps. There are 150 objects that you can use to make your own customized arena to play in, which gives you something to do before you realize that in order to enjoy your creation, you have to populate it with the abominable AI. You can play your customized levels online but finding someone to play with is, unfortunately, unlikely to happen. However, the level-building feature is an appreciated touch and definitely adds a bit of value to the overall package.
What else is there to say? If you enjoy paintball, you're probably out right now, with your real-life friends, your real paintball gun, and shooting real paintballs in a real environment. The only downside to playing in real life is the threat of pain, but physical pain is only temporary. Splat Renegade Paintball leaves an impression that is unlikely to leave you for a long time. Unless you know someone who wants to join up to play some online paintball, or if you have a high tolerance for buggy games, you'd probably be better served playing a different title.
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