Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball (Giant Bomb|Wikipedia) is something I normally would have zero interest in. I’ve never played paintball, and while I don’t think the game itself is boring or uninteresting, video games based on it are usually garbage. If you are looking for a laugh, check out PC Gamer’s review of Extreme Paintbrawl – a perfect example of this. This game is an exclusive title for the original Xbox – as I’m trying to collect every original Xbox exclusive, I had to pick up a copy when I found it in a bargain bin. After purchase, I did some research and apparently this was a cult hit – it was Xbox Live enabled and supported voice chat. Now that the Xbox Live servers for the original Xbox are offline, I tried the game single player to see what I thought.
Being that this is ostensibly a multiplayer focused sports title, the single player doesn’t seem to have anything close to what would be called a story – there is a series of tournaments to undertake, but that’s it. I’m fine with this, as I really don’t think this game needs any kind of narrative structure to make it interesting. You can do some superficial character creation by picking one of 5 or 6 prebuilt character models, and then assign upgrade points to some skills to your liking. You start as part of a team, and can go to tournaments to earn trophies and money which can be used to purchase upgrades and cosmetics such as clothing. There is also a leveling mechanic where you gain experience and levels for successfully completing a tournament and then get additional points to buff your character. This is honestly fairly basic, but it works and fits in well.
Tournaments are selected on a map screen and have you paired against an opposing team for best of 5 matches. Because it’s paintball, you are eliminated from the match in one hit, but the game has a ‘cheat’ mechanic where you can do a small quick time event (similar to power meters in golf games) that will usually grant you another shot – with the exception that if you get caught cheating by a ref, your team forfeits the entire match. I thought this was a neat idea and made the matches more interesting. I’m not sure if this exists online, but if it does I imagine it would be quite frustrating. AI opponents were fairly tough on the normal setting, and I had to turn them down to easy to finish the first tournament which was a nice surprise. The movement and the guns felt nice and it worked well as a shooter in general. My one gripe with the controls was that in order to reload you needed to hit the black button – thankfully reloading wasn’t needed most of the time.
Graphics were fairly average for Xbox – the framerate was good, but the models and environments looked like they could easily run on PS2 or Gamecube. Really nothing spectacular here, but nothing bad enough to dock it – it’s simply average.
Sound effects here are pretty bad. I get that paintball guns don’t make much noise, but it was impossible to hear when opponents were firing. The lack of good effects also made the guns feel…. weird. There isn’t any visible recoil (again, paintball guns) but that matched with the lack of sound made firing unsatisfying. Music was OK, reminding me of Tony Hawk or Amped soundtracks, and the game does support custom soundtracks – which is a nice touch.
Overall, I had some fun with Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball but the lack of multiplayer makes this a bit uninteresting this many years after its release.
Verdict: Back on the shelf – while not a terrible game, it’s not something I can see myself returning to.
Images courtesy of Giant Bomb