In the short history of paintball video games, the Greg Hastings series is the only one to deliver a quality marking experience. The most notable was Tournament Paintball Max’d, which was actually an enjoyable and attractive experience on the Xbox and PlayStation 2. It looked okay, played well, and represented the strategy and feel of team paintball with some degree of accuracy.
With Activision out of the picture, Majesco took over for this title. I had high hopes for Greg Hastings' Paintball 2. After all, the Greg Hastings formula from Max’d should only get better on a more powerful system, right? While there are some fun spots in the game, and it certainly isn’t a terrible game, it fails to exceed greatly in any particular area.
The bulk of your time in the game will be spent in Career mode. As always, you have access at first only to rookie teammates and amateur equipment. The setup is actually quite solid and has good depth to it. There are three parallel tracks through Career mode: Speedball, Woodsball, and Recball. Speedball is a team match held in custom arenas and layouts containing bunkers, walls, and other placements that are made specifically for paintball. Woodsball is the same game without the custom environment – so it is mostly played, you guessed it, in the woods. Recball is simply a combination of the two and a more informal game.
Throughout Career mode you’ll earn money by winning events, which you can use to purchase new equipment or upgrade attributes. Both of these help, but in different ways – so you’ll have to be strategic. Upgradeable equipment includes markers, clothing, masks, hoppers, barrels, utility belts, and more. Also, you’ll be able to fire your amateur teammates and hire new ones – all the way up to the pros you recognize. Career mode is deep and rewarding, and is the aspect of the game that shines.
Besides the quick game you can customize and jump into, the other main offering is online play. Online play is very basic – you can jump into one of several types of games with others and start firing. Games were smooth and lag-free in my time online, and setup was easy. The one problem I had was finding enough players for a full game. Hopefully the online community will build itself out, but until then, you can also include bots in online games to round out the numbers.
The controls are about what you’ve come to expect from paintball games. You’ll have all the mechanisms there – double triggers, the ability to lean, crouch, go prone, slide, sprint, and switch gun hands. The only control mechanic that doesn’t work too well is the command system. It is extremely exact, and ends up taking way too long to direct your teammates. The time spent here is time when the opposition is moving up the field, much less shooting you. It’s a shame too, because I would have loved to direct my teammates quickly and easily. While the AI of the opposition seems sharp, teammates seem inept at making smart decisions.
The biggest areas of disappointment, to me, are the visuals and audio. Looking at the game from an objective perspective, I’d probably say it’s an average-looking Xbox or PS2 game. Player models are stiff and upright, and movement takes on a sense of gliding. The level of detail in the arenas and environments is low, and the level of clarity we’ve come to expect from current generation titles simply is not there. Sound effects are canned and underwhelming. The soundtrack is not bad, with a small group of hard rock songs on board, but music comes through rough and muffled – similar to the difference between radio sound and CD sound.
Greg Hastings' Paintball 2 is not a bad game. It will present a worthwhile experience to serious fans of paintball. However, it doesn’t do any one thing particularly well, making it not for everybody. It’s probably just hardcore paintball fans who will find the fun to be had.