Review: Greg Hastings Paintball 2
Greg Hastings’s name is synonomous with paintball. The guy has played over 8,642 matches throughout his career. He has competed in some of the world’s most dangerous paintball arenas, including an epic 2-flag CTF at the base of Mt. Everest that lasted 14 days. If you were to ask an infant in Cambodia who Greg is, he’d be able to tell you that Hastings hasn’t been tagged once since launching his career at the ripe old age of 3. If you haven’t heard of Greg Hastings, you may want to consider dropping in to see what condition your condition is in. Seriously, the guy was knighted four times before he turned 16. Michael Jackson cited Greg Hastings as a major inspiration for his entire career. Greg’s acrobatic paintball prowess lead to the creation of 3 new sports in the summer olympics. With all of his unfathomable accomplishments, it’s no surprise that a sequel to his face-melting first game should release on the PlayStation Network in 2011. We’ve all been champing since we first got our hands on Greg Hastings Paintball back in… on… you know, that platform it released on back then, when it released. The existence of a first game matters not; Greg Hastings Paintball 2 stands alone as the best paintball experience apart from sliding behind cover on a soggy New England forest course.
One of the first things I unconsciously take note of when playing a game is its fun-factor. Greg Hastings Paintball 2 is chock full o’ fun. The trailer made me chuckle a bit, seeing a game that looks like it could run on an N64, but I quickly realized that GHP2 is way better than its looks may lead you to believe (by the way, the game looks good when you get into it). I was into paintball a few years ago, so the lingo and equipment are familiar to me. In paintball, you eliminate, not kill, opposing players by tagging them with balls full of paint. ‘Reinstalling’ is the equivelant of respawning, and many gametypes don’t support it. Instead of a clip, you have a hopper attached to the top of your gun that feeds paintballs into your barrel. Your shots are pressurized by a CO2 canister that diminishes over time. The many different gametypes in paintball include Elimination, 1-flag CTF, 2-flag CTF, Recon, Sniper, Capture Points, and more.
Another of my utmost requirements to being a top-notch game is a solid control scheme. GHP2 features some surprisingly smart controls for an FPS. Running in any direction for more than a second makes your character sprint. From a sprint you can either dive by holding X or slide by tapping it. It’s especially effective to slide behind cover or dive into a trench. Holding L2 allows you to lean left and right. It’s super effective to lean around cover and arc some shots across the field at your opponents. When you’re eliminated, you automatically take control of one of your teammates who’s still alive on the field. Triangle brings up a button-mapped command menu that allows you to issue orders (defend, cover fire, move) to your bot allies. The square button switches your gun’s alignment, which is good for when you’re popping out of cover on both sides of an obstacle. My only problem with the controls is that there isn’t a jump button. I like jumping in nearly every game I play, and not being able to jump over a log in the middle of the woods seems like a silly oversight in a paintball game. Still, the game’s simple and effective control scheme makes it easy to compete with the most legendary of paintball pros.
The game features an in-depth team manager that allows you to hire, trade, equip, and train each member of your team. You can also name the team and edit its team logo. My team, the ‘hoppertopperz’, is stacked with some of the coolest dudes you’ve never heard of. What’s crazy is that all of the people in the game are real people who play on real pro paintball teams in real life. Part of the fun of managing your team is making up histories for these players. Remember back in ’89 when Cooper slid behind the entire Avalanche team and bunker tagged 3 of their players at once? Legendary. How about in ’92 when Jongwon swept the Boston Speedball Open after all of his teammates were eliminated in the first minute of the match? So much history. After hiring a few guys to play for your team, it’s time to kick off the single-player campaign mode.
There are three different leagues to compete in, each with dozens of tournaments spanning across different terrain. The first, speedball , is predominately filled with inflatable obstacle-strewn field scenarios. The second, woodsball, is paintball in the woods. Its elaborate course designs and overall aesthetic make it my favorite of the three. Recball is a grab bag of game types. Each one of the leagues has over a dozen tournaments to compete in, and they span across the world. The physics are decent; shooting an inflatable obstacle makes it ripple and move a bit, and the farther your paintballs travel, the more likely they are to bounce off of people/obstacles. You earn money throughout the career, which is used to buy equipment and players. Team management is in depth and a half. Each one of your teammates has a bunch of skills that you can spec into, and each teammate can be uniquely equipped. There are a ton of teams to scout from, ranging from the lowly rookies to legendary players who cost a lot but come pre-trained in many skills.
After a few matches I discovered that I like the fact that it’s a one shot, one kill ordeal. It puts more emphasis on staying behind cover and also keeps your heart pumping. Unless you get marked in the head, you have the ability to either call yourself out by pressing the O button or try to wipe off the paint by pressing square. When you’re hit, a paint splatter shows up somewhere on your mask and a pendulum-type arrow moves back and forth across the screen. If you press square when the arrow is pointing at the paint, you successfully cheat. Sometimes the pendulum moves faster than usual, and if you’re tagged multiple times you don’t get a chance to cheat. It’s funny that the game gives you the option to constantly cheat, but it rarely works and Greg tells you in the tutorial that he doesn’t recommend or condone cheating whatsoever. Also, some tournaments penalize your team heavily if you’re caught cheating.
Some nice touches here and there add a layer of polish to the whole product. For instance, the harder you breathe (running, diving, sliding), the more your mask fogs up. Other weather conditions such as rain show up on certain maps. Speaking of maps, there are a LOT of them in this game. There’s also a legitimate map editor that’s fun to mess around with. Map design is great. Wind changes the angle of your ball, so you can really Wanted it around obstacles like a champ in some cases. The typical loading screen gameplay tips are present, but GHP2 also includes a whole lot of paintball history. I mean, more history than you thought existed for a sport that many people take seriously. There’s a picture in the middle of the screen and a short description beside it. Some provide dates of influencial technological improvements to paintball. Others tell stories of epic matches, founding fathers, and even shameful events that have happened in the professional paintball society. For instance, one story tells of a coach who hid in a neighboring forest and tagged opposing teammates from afar. A few guys found him and dragged him out, and his reputation will forever be tarnished. In online multiplayer, the matches change game types each time you return to the lobby. You can invite people from your friends list from the lobby, and players can join mid-game, which is something I’d like to see in more games.
Greg Hastings Paintball 2 is the most fun I’ve had with a FPS in some time. The campaign will likely take more than 10 hours to complete, and there’s incentive to replay some events on a harder difficulty. After playing a few movement tutorials, I had no problem with the controls. I was running and diving and sliding behind obstacles like a pro in no time. Leaning to shoot around cover is an imperative skill that once mastered will elevate your game substantially. It’s not exactly a ‘cover system’, per se, but it works really well. You won’t find yourself getting stuck to any walls or having trouble crossing terrain (besides for the lack of a jump button, which I mentioned earlier). The reason I didn’t mention Move support until now is that it’s not particularly usable. You can adjust the dead zone, which determines how far you have to point to turn the camera, but I never found a groove while playing with the DualShock on my lap and the Move at my hip. I couldn’t figure out how to lean, then couldn’t find the button map settings, so after a few poor matches, I turned off the Move and switched back to the DualShocker. And just like that the fun resumed. $19.99 may seem like a steep price for a PSN title, but I assure you that Greg Hastings Paintball 2 is a full-feature game with a lot of content. Split-screen campaign and/or split-screen online multiplayer would have earned this game the coveted “Eric G 5 star”, but as it stands it’s a really good, really non-violent time. Oh, and there’s a rocket launcher, so there’s that.
(Note: Nearly every fact contained within this review is falsified in order to emphasize the point that I know almost nothing about paintball and its history.)
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Lengthy campaign mode
- One shot, one kill rules
- Paintball history up the wazu
- Elaborate map designs and level editor
What I Dislike:
- No split-screen campaign or online multiplayer
- Move support is tacked on and barely usable