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Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball Max'd

Score: 87%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: WXP
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4; 2 - 14 (Online)
Genre: Online/ First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Like fishing games, the concept of a paintball video game has always escaped me. Why play a game when you can probably do the real thing? However, it is not until you add up the costs associated with these activities that a game makes a little more sense… at least financially. And, it doesn’t hurt when the game is actually a lot of fun, as is the case with Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball Max’d.

Compared to other games on the system, Max’d isn’t one of the system’s gems. Visuals are about average and aren’t something you would use to show off your Xbox, but they still get the job done. Character models are culled from the same basic models with their only real difference being different colored suits or facial features. However, Max’d is one of those cases where the gameplay actually makes up for the lack of visual glitz, so it is easier to forgive the lack of detail.

Sound features as much flash as the graphics. Voice acting is really good and it is a good thing too, since communication is one of the core aural elements to the game. The soundtrack features a number of licensed tracks, though none really jump out at you as being particularly noteworthy. But, the lack of “known” names isn’t necessarily a bad thing as what is there fits with the game.


Gameplay:

Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball Max’d is more about variety than anything else. Instead of one robust “Story” mode, the game instead offers a number of play modes and hundreds of maps to choose from. In other words, if you can’t find something you want to play, you’re really not trying hard enough.

Multiplayer, both online and off, is clearly the game’s main focus. In addition to a feature-laden online mode – which includes everything from clan support to user-created content – Max’d also offers four-player split-screen and a two-player Co-op mode in the game’s Career mode. The A.I. controlled teammates are decent, but playing through one of the game’s 29 Pro tournaments with a friend is a much better experience.

As if the number of gameplay modes isn’t enough to keep you busy, Max’d also features a pretty nice map editor. Compared to other map editors, Max’d scope is pretty bare. Still, it’s a rare treat to be able to use a custom-map feature on ANY console FPS, so the option is welcome. The fact that you can also share these maps online with friends over Live is just gravy.


Difficulty:

A.I. turns out to be one of the few major problems with Max’d. The A.I. controlled tactics are rather basic and seem to stick to basic routines rather than reacting to what’s going on. It is generally easy to trap opposing players, especially when playing with a friend. There’s definitely a little challenge there, just don’t expect the same level of competition you might find in a real game of paintball – at least not offline.

The online experience is a different beast altogether and will really depend on the skill level of other players and how well you can work together as a team.


Game Mechanics:

When playing with the A.I., a rather deep pre-match strategy is available. Dubbed the “Breakout Manager”, this option lets you plan out every little detail of matches. In their default mode, teammates have certain specialties. With the Manager, you can alter their “normal” orders and have them pull special duties. These include defending certain bunkers and laying out plays with a small squad.

Once in the game, you can target specific players and reassign them. This allows even greater flexibility since you can adapt your plays to what your opponents are doing. Commands can be issued either though key-press commands or, for the bolder players who really want to get into things, through the Live headset. It takes a little time to nail down specific commands, but once you do, it adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay.

Another notable addition to an otherwise easy to use control scheme is the Snap feature, which lets you switch the hand your gun is held in. So, if you happen to be stuck behind a wall with players shooting from your left, you can switch the gun to your left hand and minimize your exposure. This gives you a certain amount of flexibility on the ground and will keep you in the game much longer.

Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball Max’d isn’t a flawless experience, but it is certainly a unique one. Gamers looking for something competitive, yet different, should definitely give Max’d a look.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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