Paintball takes the online multiplayer fun found in videogames and brings it to a painful reality. Sadly, the sport has seen a rapid decline in recent years due to its high cost to play, expensive insurance cost and field/arena maintenance expenses. Fret not though fellow paintballers (i.e. ballers), because for less than the price of a box of paintballs, Greg Hastings Paintball 2 (GHP2) is available for purchase from the luxury of your own home on PSN. Charge up those Move controllers and grab your Sharp Shooter because it's time to hit the field, and this time around you don’t have to worry about those pesky bruises anymore either.
First off let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: GHP2 isn’t a big budget AAA title. The visual and sound effects are what you’d expect from last generation hardware. The title lands itself at a cool $19.99 price, which had it been a disc release would have made dealing with the sub-par sound and graphics a bit easier to bear, but compared to the low prices we're used to on PlayStation Store — Modern Combat: Domination for example — it might seem a little costly. Those who can look past the substandard sound and visuals though will find themselves immersed in a surprisingly deep campaign mode that offers fully manageable teams of amateur/professional ballers from around the world, truckloads of equipment to purchase and use in 67 different locales around the world and can even take to the online fields to find out if you’re the best baller in the online world.
The extensive career mode offers 46 different events through three different branches: Tournament Speedball, Tournament Woodsball and Rec-ball. Tournament Speedball events are primarily held in small arenas filled with inflatables for cover, where the action is fast paced and the rounds are short-lived. Tournament Woodsball events are held in large fields full of buildings, trees, etc. for coverage in modes like Point Capture and Sniper that fit the large maps perfectly. Rec-ball events are a combination of the other two event styles wrapped up into one, and throughout the three different braches a slew of gameplay modes are featured to keep the action constantly changing: Elimination, Capture the Flag, Point Capture, Sniper, Recon and more.
Forming a team in the career mode with actual ballers from across the globe and scouting/trading them throughout to build the perfect team is a nice touch to the game. Each baller has their own trading card, and money earned by winning matches can be spent to learn new skills for performance enhancements on the field, and seeing as training a player is quite expensive, you can also elect to trade a player with higher skills on their card as well – the choice is entirely up to you. One niggling factor is that the playable character is one of the actual ballers instead of having a personalised custom character. As previously mentioned, the massive amount of guns and equipment is staggering, and each piece purchased and equipped not only helps in gameplay, but also takes a visual effect as well. Your plain-looking team wearing regular jeans and tee-shirts with rental equipment can be transformed into a fully equipped, uniformed paintball team to be reckoned with.
Taking to the arena/field and playing paintball is a real treat, instead of just using a generic FPS style, Super X Studios has successfully managed to bring the ‘feel’ of paintball to the virtual world here. Anyone that has actually stepped into a paintball arena knows that paintballs don’t fly in straight accurate lines, and they don’t here either. Arching shots across the playing field is a must and when an enemy is spotted, firing as many shots as quickly as possible is the only way to remain paint-free. Enemy AI is surprising tough here and by using pre-game strategy (selectable prior to entering each round) and in-game quick commands to teammates are necessary to stand victorious. Most of the small arena modes can be easily won by just eliminating the opposing team, but in modes that feature respawns (e.g. Point Capture), commanding teammates becomes a necessity, and for the most part works adequately. Sometimes teammates will run past a captured point without stopping to capture it, and at times enemies will stay in the open for too long while being shot at, but it’s not too noticeable as you’ll continually be dealing with the vigorous enemy AI, fiercely rushing objective points and keeping a barrage of paintballs hurling at you constantly. Blasting through a full clip while rushing to cover at the start of each arena match, popping in-and-out of cover to fire a storm of paint and making perilous rushes to snatch an enemy’s flag are all found here, and bring the ‘feel’ of paintball to life with great success.
PlayStation Move support has been added to the mix with moderate success. Firstly, calibration is easy, but you’ll be calibrating often in-game – easy by holding Select – because, if the controller isn’t in the same position in between rounds it tends to drift off. It’s irritating to say the least, but aside from this problem Move performs quite well. The gameplay style is a perfect fit for using the Sharp Shooter – primarily forward movements and shooting from cover, but you’ll have to get used to hitting the Circle button as ‘pulling’ to reload isn’t available here . Even with the basic implementation, Move still adds a better alternative to the DualShock 3, because the button to fire with the DS3 is the R2 button and unless you’ve got a double-trigger gun (i.e. marker) which enables the R1 and R2 buttons to fire, or the automatic marker (unlocked later in the game), the game is laborious to play on one’s finger. For the first time, we find the Sharp Shooter the favoured control method here, and the biggest surprise of them all is Move vs. Move local multiplayer!
To spice up the mix there have been a lot of little extras added. A Field Editor allows the ability to create entirely new maps that can then be taken online to keep the playfields constantly fresh. The history of paintball has been injected into the game through photos and bios for loading screens as well as unlockable character/marker videos. Speaking of loading times, they are always quick and virtually non-existent between rounds; which is quite surprising because long loading times seem to plague most low-budget titles. Weather effects in-game change and highlight reel-styled moves have ballers sliding and diving around the arenas like the pros, also when running and moving around too much in the heat of battle, fog builds up on-screen to mimic the way baller’s goggles fog up on the field. In-game cheating brings a quick-time event into play that if performed successfully allows one to cheat and wipe-off the paint once shot. Custom soundtracks alleviate the atrocious in-game music, and a full trophy set that includes a Platinum trophy will keep fans happy, adding even more replay value.
While no videogame representation can truly capture what it’s like to be on the paintball field, Greg Hastings Paintball 2 does a great job of transplanting the unique feel of paintball to the virtual world, minus the pain of being shot. While the upfront presentation is quite bland, it’s obvious Super X Studios have a lot of passion for the sport and packed in enough solid content to keep the ballers ballin’ for much longer than what the admission price would earn on an actual field. While fans of the sport will likely have the most appreciation for the game, those looking to put their Sharp Shooters to use will likely find a lot to enjoy as well. The sport of Paintball has finally made its debut on PSN, so grab a network card instead of a box of paint and start ballin’.