09 Feb, 2006

Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball Max'd Review

Xbox Review | Paintball in your own home. Hmm.
You really have to question the decision to make a paintball video game. No offence to any paintball fans out there but well, paintball exists in order to simulate a combat environment without those troublesome consequences of traditional combat, such as death and horrific maiming. Videogames are the best of both worlds – any combat environment and any weapon you want, without the fatal consequences. So, with this freedom, Activision decides to create paintball video game? It’s baffling. Although, what’s even more baffling is the fact that Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball Max’d is a sequel to a 2004 game. Still, all things considered, Max’d is actually a fairly reasonable game of paintball, only really hampered by the fact it's only a paintball game.

Max’d is, in essence, a squad based first-person shooter. You play the part of a paintball squad made up of three, five or seven members, and must complete an objective before the opposition can. The objective consists of either catching a flag, or eliminating all the opposition – by shooting them with a paintball, of course. Hardly an array of game modes – some light hearted modes could have easily been added here, but oh well. All the different arenas are small and rectangular, littered with various sized obstacles to provide cover. Despite the slightly varying locales – from grass fields to the middle of a forest – all these levels play exactly the same, and don’t have a whole lot of variety, so things will start to feel samey very fast. You can make your own levels, but, again, they’ll still roughly be the same thing. Again, occasionally straying away from the paintball formula and adopting some traditional FPS multiplayer levels could have been a godsend for the variety of the game, but it wasn’t to be.

Don't hit the barrels, they will explode! ...Maybe.

Don't hit the barrels, they will explode! ...Maybe.
The control scheme in Max’d is actually quite good. There’s your standard dual analog system, of course, but there are a few unique additions. Pressing X will put the paintball gun in the opposite hand – a necessary thing, as pressing L to poke your head out from behind cover will only go in the opposite direction of the hand holding the gun. Pressing Y will enable a sprint mode. Hitting the A button will send your character lunging to the deck behind cover. Tapping up on the D-pad from this position will cause the player to crouch, too. Some very useful options which will be needed to help escape those close calls. The whole system is actually quite tight, and works very well. The white button is for coordinating the computer players, but is limited to telling them where to run to. Oddly, there’s also a reload button – it’s unnecessary, because one lot of paintballs should be more than enough to eliminate the entire opposition team. Cheating is also an option – if the player is quick enough, they can wipe the paintball off their clothes and play on like the dastardly folks they are. Get it wrong though, and additional players may be eliminated.

Single-player mode isn’t terribly interesting – but not due to a lack of effort from the developers. There’s a fairly solid career mode, where tournaments can be played in order to gain prize money and rank increases, which can then be used to recruit better players to your team, and upgrade your gear. The gear is licensed too, with real gun barrels, shirts and other assorted paintball paraphernalia looking just like the real thing. Useless to most, but handy and nice if you’re a hardcore paintballer.

The AI here is also surprisingly good, for both your team and the opposition. They hide well behind cover, attempt to flank you, and often pin you down. However, they do make the odd mistake (don’t see you when you’re RIGHT THERE), and they don’t seem to mind when you cheat right in front of your face – you’d think they’d say something, but apparently not. There are 29 different tournaments, all mostly the same thanks to the repetitive layouts, and there’s also one-off tournament options and a few extras, showing that the developers have put a bit of effort in. But really, this isn’t a game with a whole lot of single player appeal due to the nature of paintball.

Plug in some extra controllers and jump on Xbox Live, and things get a bit more interesting. Four players can create some havoc, on the same Xbox, although it’s not quite up to Halo 2 levels of entertainment. Online, you’ll be able to coordinate some very impressive strategies, join a leader board and generally be more entertained than you would be offline. Of course, this is IF you can manage to find people online, which will undoubtedly be a real challenge as time goes on.

An orange paintball gun? Freak!

An orange paintball gun? Freak!
The game has a rather first-generation look to it. In-game, there is a lack of any strong colours, giving the whole thing a really muddy look most of the time. Characters models are really basic too, as are the overly choppy animations they possess – they tend to go from a crouched position to standing up somewhat awkwardly, to say the least. Then there are the overly bland textures. It’s not repulsive by any means, but it’s just a bit bland. Audio is more or less fine, although we could do without the overly ‘xtreme 2 the max’ announcer and overly generic nu-metal/rap soundtrack.

The only real thing stopping Greg Hasting’s Tournament Paintball Max’d from being a good game is the fact it’s only paintball – a sport that, when translated to the video game, is inherently limited, as it will always be compared to the likes of Halo 2, and come out the loser each time. Max’d isn’t really different enough from the first game to encourage a re-buy, either. However, there is still a decent game here. The game can undoubtedly be a blast in multiplayer, and the career mode is somewhat interesting, if not captivating. Oh, and it does have a reasonable budget price point. Still, unless you’re a particularly avid paintball fan, it’s probably best you steer clear.
The Score
It’s not terrible, but in reality, only big paintball fans are going to get something out of this title. Everyone else might enjoy it in multiplayer, but would much rather be playing Halo 2. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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8 years ago
Totally pimpin' yo!

I'm a big fan of paintballing (been twice in the last 6 months) but I agree with what Brendan said. It's about simulating combat, so why create a simulation about that?
8 years ago
^ i wondered that too when i heard about this, the only thing i can surmise is that this is for people who like FPS games, but aren't allowed to play them because their parents don't like the gore.
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