Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball MAX'D REVIEW

Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball MAX'D Review (PS2)

I’ll never forget my first experience with paintball. Not the first time I had seen it; that would be in the highly underrated 1985 movie Gotcha!. Not even the first time I had shot a paintball gun. My little brother and I bought $70 K-Mart specials and use to shoot trees and targets in the woods near our house. This was my first experience of shooting at people (with paint!) and them shooting back. And it’s one I won’t soon forget.

I was working midnights at a heat-treating factory while going to college full-time and a group of about 20 of decided to give paintball a whirl. We went to this building in Downtown Detroit that looked like a scene straight out of Robocop. It’s was called Splatball City and it was on multiple floors of an old industrial building of some kind. After we got geared up (and sufficiently liquored up) we sat through the instruction being provided by the field marshall. Even before we stepped onto the field, I was starting to understand the strategy involved in the game. It wasn’t a simple shoot ‘em up. It was about outsmarting the other team. It was about thinking two moves ahead. It was war.

I was psyched. I was ready to be a soldier. My mind was in the game. I was ready to dominate. He let us out onto the field for our first round with one last instruction, “Finally, please do not shoot your guns out any of the open or broken windows, our neighbors will shoot back, and it won’t be paint.”


Now here was are 15 years later. 15 years of experiences have come and gone. I haven’t played paintball in close to 10 years. But, as I sit here today I think back to that day and remember it as one of the best experiences in my 30-something years. The thrill is still there.

Paintball, the sport, becoming paintball, the video game seems like a perfect marriage. A product that is an ideal blend of multiple platforms and genres. It’s a little bit of sports gaming with a heaping helping of First Person Shooter (FPS). Throw in a pinch of strategy for good measure and you have Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball MAX’D from Activision.

Wait! I know what you’re thinking. Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball MAX’D came out last fall. Well, yes, it did. It came out last year on the Xbox. In fact, Operation Sports took a look at that release last November. Its a little unique to wait on the PS2 version for a year, but it is a unique sport and a unique game.

Paintball, as a game, is brilliant in it’s simplicity. Simplicity, that is, on the base level. The rules of game itself are as basic as they come. Shoot them all or capture the flag. Period. Take one shot and you’re done. Period. Even if you’re shot in the gun, or "marker" as it is called in Paintball, your round is over. That’s really the long and short of the game. Now, that’s not to say the game is easy. It’s about strategy, dexterity, and really requires genuine athletic ability to truly excel at it. That’s why I am writing the review of Greg Hastings’ game, not Greg writing a review about mine.

Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball MAX’D, as a game, can be viewed the same way. It’s very vanilla on the surface, but surprisingly deep once you get into it. The modes of play are limited to Exhibition, Career, and Online play, and they play exactly as their names would indicate.

The Career mode in this game far exceeded my expectations. The premise is standard; you start by creating a character and begin your quest for Paintball supremacy. You start at the bottom of the heap, and through solo matches, you’ll begin to grow as a player. You’ll eventually be able to recruit/hire new players to join you for team competitions. As you move through more and more tournaments, you’ll be able to upgrade your teammates and your equipment. In fact, the game does a very nice job giving you the feel of the changing experience. The markers that you start out with seem like Nerf pellet guns once you get into the better gear. I was leery about whether or not the developers would be able to bring that out, but I’m happy to say that they did.

While you’re playing with your teammates, the game features something they are calling the Breakout Manager. This interface allows you to direct the strategy of your team going into a round. The controls also allow you to give your team direction on the fly using the right analog stick. It’s just one part of the really impressive array on controls available for this title. Again, "shoot or be shot" seems simple on the surface, but running, ducking, sprawling and shooting while directing your team and being shot at is a lot going on! The team at Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball MAX’D really utilize the full potential of the PS2 controller to make it a great experience. They’ve even given you the ability to wipe paint off. If you’re not familiar with the concept, in Paintball, there are two ways to be called out. You call yourself out when you’ve been shot or the referee calls you out. Some less-then-honorable folks may try to wipe off a paint hit before the ref sees it. It’s in the game, but be warned, you can get caught and tossed! Its a nice touch, though.

The game also comes with a map editor that is usable in online play. It’s not exceptionally deep, and most paintball fields are pretty simple (back to that word again) and very similar. It's another nice addition. You’ll find all of same types of matches online as you’ll play during the Career mode. The game ran very well online, without significant lag or frame rate issues.

The graphics and audio are very early PS2-like and don’t do much to push the system. I’m not sure that a game like this needs intense graphics to really push the experience, but it is very flat. It’s certainly colorful, but flat throughout. "Flat" is probably equally appropriate when judging the audio. There isn’t much to it. There are certain sounds during a paintball match, but they just didn’t resonate here like I expected them to. It didn’t take away from the fun of the game, but it also didn’t add anything.

Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball MAX’D made me do three things that I didn’t expect when I slid it into the PS2. First, I found myself watching some tournament paintball on ESPN2 last weekend. Second, I started the ball rolling on getting my softball team to sign on for a pre-season paintball outing in March of next year. And finally, I kept playing the game after I had enough time in to write my review.

In most stores, you can find this game for less then $40. If you’re looking for a last fling on the PS2 before the PS3 launch next month, I would suggest you do so with Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball MAX’D.

Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball MAX'D Score
out of 10