When Greg Hastings Paintball 2 showed up last year for only the Xbox 360 and the Wii, some people wondered why the PS3 got left behind. It's not that the game had a huge following or that it was a marvel of a title, but when a company that traditionally goes multiplatform suddenly snubs a console, it makes one wonder. Almost a year after the game was originally released, Majesco and Super X Studios finally put out the game on the PlayStation 3. Instead of going through disc-based means, the game was delivered through PSN with a $20 price tag. It also came along with support for Sony's motion controller, the Move. For controller owners starved for related software, it's another title, but that doesn't mean that it's exceptional in any way.
There are several different game types featured in this virtual version of paintball. There's Elimination mode, which is similar to deathmatch. Two Flag Capture the Flag is the traditional capture the flag you've played in other titles, while Single Flag CTF has a flag in the middle of the field that must be captured and taken back to your base. Point Capture is a territories-style match where you gain points for every spot you hold per second. Assault has you defending points from being captured or capturing them if you're the assault team. Recon is an interesting form of tag where you only gain points by touching specified stations on the map. Sniper has you trying to hit all of your designated targets before the opposing team does the same. X-Ball is a mash-up of deathmatch and reverse CTF, where points are scored either with total team elimination or by hanging your flag on the opposing base; the team with the most points by the end of the time limit wins. Finally, Race To is exactly like X-Ball, but with a set point limit.
Greg Hastings Paintball 2 features a few modes for the offline player to enjoy. The first mode, and unquestionably the deepest in the game, is Career mode. From here, you start off forming a team of rookies and getting them geared up with the best clothes and guns you can afford. You have three career paths, and while they all have to be completed to properly finish Career mode, you can switch back and forth between any of the paths at any time. Speedball allows you to take part in organized team bouts in specialized paintball parks, complete with nylon barricades and bunkers. Woodsball takes the Speedball mechanic to a more natural outdoor setting that can vary from forests to abandoned training grounds. Finally, Recball is like a mixture of the Woodsball and Speedball paths, but without organized team play.
The Career mode is quite deep. Aside from being able to choose any path you want at will, you can earn cash at events, and you can use the winnings to buy new gear for your crew. You can also spend the money on improving certain abilities for each player, such as better aiming or walking speed while crouched. As you progress through the ranks, you gain the ability to replace your stock of players with better ones and even get a few pro paintball players along the way. Combine that with 62 different arenas and the ability to create your own arena that can be used online, and you have a significant amount of gameplay stuffed into the title.
If there's one thing that plagues the game, it's bad AI. Your AI teammates do a fairly good job of getting to cover and not getting shot, but once they do get to cover, they have pretty bad aim. In flag matches, they do a fine job of getting the flag, but during elimination matches, they do a poor job of trying to flush out the remaining enemies, preferring to be reactionary rather than proactive. Enemies tend to be more aggressive and a little smarter than your team, resulting in matches where you feel you need to do the brunt of the work to win. It can make for some frustrating matches, but if you happen to be a player who likes taking charge of everything, it isn't too bad.
Multiplayer games play out well, and it's easy to find a quick game to play. The online games run lag-free, as there were no instances of players warping from one location to another during the whole time matches were in play. Online matches weren't exactly bustling with players, but there seemed to be a decent amount online at any given moment. Time will tell if it holds true for this version, but the potential is certainly there. On the plus side, the game allows for bots to be included in online matches, so even if the community dries up later, you'll still have something to shoot.
The controls are pretty accessible, as they haven't changed much from other paintball games or first-person shooters. You have dual triggers for faster firing, should your gun support that, and the slide mechanic is still there. The slide is a variable one since you can slide into a ducked or prone position. There is still no cover system, but the lean mechanic is a good alternative. Gun hand switching is there and, when combined with the lean mechanic, makes for a good blind-fire method. One thing that doesn't seem to work all the time is the team mechanic, where you get to direct teammates on what they should be doing next. Sometimes you can command them to lay cover fire, but they seem to do nothing after the command executes.
As stated earlier, the game features Move support, and it works quite well. The accuracy you get from using the motion controller is much better than the standard controller, and unlike most games using it, the movement box is small enough that it feels like less of a struggle to use this over the conventional DualShock 3. Turning with it is fine, but trying to take cover or duck is handled poorly because it asks the user to either point the controller straight up or down, messing with the aim in the process. Luckily, buttons can also be used, so you aren't forced to perform the motions. While you gain accuracy using the Move, you lose dual trigger capabilities. Unless you demand speed when firing, the experience is certainly enhanced by the Move.
Graphically, Greg Hastings Paintball 2 looks more like a Wii game than a PS3 game, downloadable or not. The character models look rather basic, as their clothes don't sport a high amount of detail. The sponsored clothes still have readable logos, but don't expect a high level of detail on any of the players, whether rookie or pro. Only the guns seem to have a next-gen look, them as the decorations and moving parts come through clearly on-screen. Some guns even have nice, reflective chrome that's shiny enough for you to view the environment. The animations vary wildly from decent to laughable. The running and walking animations are fine, but there are times when you'll see players trying to slide or walk while crouching, and it looks off. There are even times when players glide on the ground while moving.
The environments tell the same story. They look good for the previous generation of games, but they look quite basic for this generation. You can still tell a rock from a nylon barrier, but only the nylon barriers sport any hints of next-gen textures. Foliage doesn't look much better, as trees sport flat polygonal branches and leaves. Tall grass only fades into view once you get close to the patches. The effects are nice, but none of them stood out as amazing. The fog forming on your goggles when you're running is good, as are the rain splashes on the camera lens and the paint spray from exploding paint balls. Considering the rest of the graphical package, it's a good thing that these effects are in place.
The sound is sparse but effective enough. The soundtrack is limited to a handful of hard rock instrumental tracks. It's certainly generic, but it's limited to the menus, so you never worry about it invading your ears during gameplay (except for a bug that lets it continue in the first rounds). One caveat is that the soundtrack plays out a tad muted, which is inexcusable nowadays, when every system on the market is capable of producing clean, crisp music.
The effects are exactly what you'd expect. The whoosh of the paintballs as they fly out of the barrels is nice, and the little things, like hearing the ping of paintballs as they hit hollow metal poles, show that there was a good amount of work spent on the audio details. Greg Hastings shows up as your tutorial instructor and mentor, and his delivery is great. He sounds natural when he's giving you instructions on the overall game of paintball, and it rarely feels like he's reading from a script. There are a few other voice actors in the game, but they don't say much aside from indicating whether or not they were tagged by a paintball or if their team scored a point. Again, what is here works, but it could have been a little better.
Despite the time delay, Greg Hastings Paintball 2 is the same decent paintball game you've seen on the other consoles last year. The campaign mode demonstrates some depth that's usually reserved for big sports titles, and the amount of arenas you get is astounding, especially when you throw in the ability to make your own maps. The game looks a little dated, and the other graphical issues — clipping, pop-in, etc. — become too distracting. For the big paintball fan, the game can be a good alternative to being out on the field if you're stuck at home for some reason. For everyone else looking for their next Move title, wait for a sale if you really want some paintball action. Despite getting the same scores as the retail versions on other consoles, Greg Hastings Paintball 2 is just not strong enough to recommend considering the current price tag.
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