At E3 2010, I had the awkward pleasure of meeting Greg Hastings, a professional paintballer. He was showing off his newest game, Greg Hastings Paintball 2 (GHP2). He was touting it as the most innovative shooter this Earth had seen, allowing the player to lean in and out of cover. While he was completely pumped about his game, I couldn’t help but be a little skeptical. Naturally, I didn’t say anything to him about it, but the game he was talking about didn’t seem to be the one I was watching him play. Well, when I saw GHP2 on the shelf of my local game store for $17.99, I figured I’d finally form my own opinion on Hastings’ golden boy.
GHP2 has you create your own team, trading players as you advance through the game. While there’s a general plot, it doesn’t move much further than making your team the highest ranked in paintball. Hastings narrates the campaign, taking on the role of your team manager. There are three categories of events to play in Campaign: Speedball, Woodsball, and Recball. Speedball are fast-paced gametypes, usually set in artificial fields that are filled with the iconic inflatable
shapes. Woodsball are usually big-team gametypes that are set out in the forests. Recball is the mixed bag of events, taking place in unique settings. While they may have some small differences, the three categories play almost exactly the same. If you randomly loaded an event, I doubt that I would be able to tell you which category it falls into. There are 14-17 events in each category, making for a lengthy campaign. If you’re really into paintball, you’ll be very pleased by the amount of matches to play. If you’re anyone else, you’ll see that the gameplay gets painfully repetitive. A long, drawn-out, repetitive campaign isn’t exactly ideal for a game like this.
GHP2 operates similarly to most shooters, with a few tweaks here and there. You are able to switch between shooting right-handed and left-handed on the fly, as well as “pop” out of cover by pulling the left trigger. As you earn money from winning events, you can purchase new gear, skills, and upgrades from the shop. All of the paintball guns (or “Markers”) tend to handle the same, until you get into the higher tiers of gear. You tend to feel like you’re handling a peashooter, until you buy one of the better guns and become an unholy Angel of Death. There are also rocket launchers and paint grenades, although they aren’t particularly effective. The gravity is somewhat unreliable in GHP2, making some grenades fly across the field, but others falling short. The controls feel clunky, but it isn’t too bad after putting some time into the game. For all the bitching I’m doing in this review, I have to bring up the fact that this game has one ace in the hole: It’s kind of fun. Note that I didn’t say that it’s, “THE MOST FUN I’VE EVER HAD!” GHP2 can be entertaining enough, in small doses, but it is by no means a good game. Still, the matches can become pretty hectic and satisfying to conquer.
You can play all of the basic gametypes in local multiplayer or over Xbox Live, but I’m not sure how many people you’re going to run into online. The split-screen can pit you and a friend against A.I. controlled players, but the A.I. is just awful. You’ll get used to seeing your teammates crouched and shooting into the wall in front of them. There is also a field editor mode, where you can create custom fields to play on in local multiplayer. It’s nothing remarkable or too customizable, but it is a nice little addition for those who want replay value out of this game.
I’m not sure if GHP2 was a budget title, but I certainly hope it was. The graphics are nowhere near the current generation of console gaming, using the same basic model for every character. The characters are stiff and lifeless, much like the environments you play in. The settings are flat and all seem similar to each other. The sound effects and voice actors are a nice addition, but they don’t have enough unique dialogue to make it seem realistic. Most of what you hear your teammates say will either have been repeated endlessly or not even relate to the current situation.
If you’re a die-hard fan of paintball, you may really enjoy GHP2. Sure, it isn’t a perfect game, but it isn’t the worst thing you’ll play. If you’re not a fan of paintball, then this game is definitely not the way to be introduced to the sport. GHP2 is a very low-budget game and it shows in almost every aspect of it. Poor controls, poor graphics, repetitive gameplay, and idiotic A.I. make GHP2 a hard buy for $17.99. If the price dropped down to $10, I’d say to pick it up for the occasional fun moments that it can offer. Sadly, at its current price, Greg Hastings Paintball 2 is not worth it.
By Blake Edwards