In todays video game environment, it seems as if there are very few niches which have not been fully explored. With that in mind, it seems surprising that there have not been very many paintball games ever made. Paintball seems to have all the makings of a solid videogame: it not only has a solid fan real-life fan base but it also has a pre-defined group of gamers who would be receptive to it in shooter fans. In spite of this, really the only paintball games which have been released have been from the Greg Hastings Paintball series. While at E3, we got a chance to check out the latest title in the series, Greg Hastings Paintball 2, and walked away rather impressed by what Majesco has done in the first iteration of the game for next-gen consoles.
One of the first things that fans of the previous two games will note is the simplified breakout editor. In talking to Greg, who was at the Majesco booth, he said that in playing the earlier Greg Hastings titles, the vast majority of people simply didn't use the breakout editor, as it was too complicated. As a result it has been radically simplified, allowing you to assign one of six commands to your team before the round starts. This makes the process of selecting a breakout for your team a radically simpler one than before.
Once you have broken out and begun the game, you'll find that Greg Hastings Paintball 2 has probably the most robust body manipulation system of any game on the market. All leaning or "snapping" out of cover is done by pulling the left trigger various amounts. This allows you to control whether you just barely poke yourself out of cover or spring nearly all the way up. It seems like a very simple feature, but in practice it is incredibly useful for pulling off the perfect shot.
The game also features the ability to slide or dive into cover, which makes it feel as if there is a fully fledged cover system even if there is no one "cover" button. However, should you get hit by a paintball you will be confronted with a cheat system, which allows you to potentially eliminate your opponent's kill with the risk of being caught and having multiple members of your team eliminated.
Making good use of cover and leaning is key to surviving
The game also introduces an extremely simple and intuitive squad command system. All you need to do in order to control your teammates is press a button to bring up the interface, aim at the bunker you want your squad to deal with, and press another button to have them move/attack there. The closest of your up-to 10 teammates will then execute your command on that bunker The system appears extremely user-friendly, although we can't say for sure as we didn't get a full hands-on.
Gameplay spans seven modes, ranging from from elimination to recon. These game modes are spread across 62 paintball fields from 12 real locations. In addition, there will be a detailed map creator which you can use to make your own fields. These maps are grouped into speedball, rec-ball and woodball.
In terms of single-player there will be a small story mode which essentially consists of you jumping from field-to-field and playing in a variety of different matches. In between matches there is a small story and some working in of the history of competitive paintabll, but it seemed to be more window dressing than anything else. As you succeed in your career you will earn money which can be used to purchase markers, jerseys, masks, paint grenades, and other pieces of equipment. However, this equipment is not merely superficial, as each piece has its own pros and cons which need to be balanced when setting a load-out for your team.
Get used to paintballs whizzing past your face
Greg Hastings puts a big emphasis on multiplayer as well. On the Xbox 360 and PS3 you can play up to 10 vs 10 on Xbox Live or PSN and up to 4 v 4 on Wii wifi-connect matchmaking. There will also be support for up to 2-player splitscreen matches, so you can own your friend as he or she is sitting next to you.
I went into seeing Greg Hastings Paintball 2 a little skeptical about how the team at Majesco would pull off a paintball game while still making it accessible and different from other shooters on he market. After seeing the game in action I was pleasently surprised with some of the innovation that it brought to the table. The game feels very similar to playing legitimate paintball and features a lot more depth than I was expecting. Look for it on your Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii on September 14th.