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ups: lots of options, music sounds great
downs: graphics are bad, clunky controls, mental problems of virtual paintballers shine once again

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Greg Hastings? Tournament Paintball Max?d Review
game: Greg Hastings? Tournament Paintball Max?d
two star
posted by: George Holomshek
publisher: Activision
developer: Nightlight Studios
ESRB rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Older)
date posted: 09:47 AM Thu Mar 23rd, 2006
last revision: 08:40 PM Thu Mar 23rd, 2006

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Click to read.As fun as playing paintball is in real life, paintball based video games have a rich history of being anything but. If you don\'t believe me just go ahead and ask anyone else who has played \"Extreme Paintbrawl\", or as I like to call it \"Chinese Water Torture Via PC\". But when the relatively successful Greg Hastings paintball series was slated to make an appearance on the Nintendo DS, there was hope that DS owners would finally have a good first person shooter to tide them over until the arrival of the much anticipated Metroid Prime: Hunters this month. But alas, Greg Hastings\' Tournament Paintball Max\'d falls flat on its face in just about every way and DS owners are left waiting for a great portable FPS.

Greg Hastings\' Tournament Paintball Max\'d is one of those games that does well in all the places that don\'t matter. There are options and customization features everywhere you look. You can customize your control scheme however you want, pick from a large variety of team logos, buy new jerseys, add and drop players from a pool of nearly 40 real life paintballers, and more. One customization feature I really liked was the ability to upgrade your skills. By winning tournaments you gain experience points which can be spent to upgrade skills such as movement speed and marker accuracy.

Another unique feature is the ability to cheat in matches. When hit by a paintball, a moving gauge will appear on the screen. You then have a few seconds to hit the A button at just the right time. Accurately stopping the gauge will make your player quickly wipe off the paint before the referees can spot it, allowing you to play on.

Unfortunately once the actual game starts you immediately start to feel a combination of disappointment, frustration, and bewilderment. The first thing you will notice is that the graphics are horrid. Everything from guns to characters to barriers are pixelated and chunky. This often makes it difficult to tell whether or not a moving glob of pixels off in the distance is a friend or foe. Not to mention the fact that there seems to have been a discount sale on pants and heads because everyone, regardless of the team, has the same pair of red pants and a grey and orange mask. This makes it a very good idea to get some unique, bright colored jerseys for your team in order to easily who is an enemy. Other than recognizable character models, another feature a good paintball game needs is the ability to paint the environment. For some reason there can only be about 3 splats of paint anywhere on the field before the most recent hits replace the older ones. What\'s the point of playing with paint if you can\'t see it?

While playing through the game it suddenly became apparent to me why paintball games in general tend to suck; this is because a virtual paintballer, no matter how well programmed they may be, will always have severe mental deficiencies. Specific symptoms will vary from game to game, but they seem to always exist. Problem number one in Greg Hastings\' Tournament Paintball Max\'d is the inability of a paintballer to register what is going on at more than 30 frames per second. Not only does this make things shaky and difficult, but trying to get a good idea of how your paint is traveling is nearly impossible.

Problem number two is that the mind of a paintballer apparently puts a two inch thick invisible shield around any and all barriers. Not only does this make objects a nightmare to shoot around, but it also seems to act as a \"no-no zone\". If the paintballer happens to touch the magic shield while running by an obstacle they will usually get stuck, and sometimes they even start to vibrate as if they are going into an epileptic seizure. Not cool.

Greg Hastings\' Tournament Paintball Max\'d also sports some absolutely clunk-tastic controls. Movement and aiming is generally done with a combination of the d-pad and touch screen, though several control options are available. But even at the highest sensitivity, looking around using the touch screen is slow and inaccurate. And this brings me to problem number three; which is that the mind of a virtual paintballer cannot process a non-90 degree vector. In other words, you can\'t walk forward and sidestep at the same time. This makes movement in general a total pain, and this goes double for times when evasive action is required.

If there is one saving grace about Greg Hastings\' Tournament Paintball Max\'d, it is that the music sounds great. With artists including B-Real and Puddle of Mud, at least you can enjoy some decent tunes while you think of ways to take out your frustration from playing this game. But sadly the game only has six tracks of music, all of which you will have heard by the time you finish your first tournament. Other sound effects in the game are either stock, annoying, or both. Guns fire and paintballs splat, and your teammates constantly yell out directions where the enemy is hiding. And while you can turn the music off in the options menu, there is no way to get your annoying teammates to shut up.

Simply put, Greg Hastings\' Tournament Paintball Max\'d on the DS is harmful to three of your five senses, four if you count the bad taste it leaves in your mouth. The graphics are pixilated and choppy, the controls are insensitive and aggravating, and having your paintballs splat seemingly in midair next to an object is no fun at all. DS owners, if you are looking for a new shooter to play on your handheld, please don\'t drop your cash on this one.

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