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Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball MAX'D
Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: WXP
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 10 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Sports/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:
In order to get into Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball MAX’D, you will first have to at least like the concept behind the sport. It is sort of like NASCAR, you either like it or you don’t.

MAX’D looks decent enough, though the visuals are pretty bland. Textures are boring and there isn’t much to look at during matches. Players look and animate well. You can also add your own personal touches by equipping them with licensed gear.

Audio shares the same issues as the visuals – it sounds good, but isn’t anything you’ll go nuts over. Voice acting is really good though there isn’t a whole lot of variety in what your team members actually say. Then again, you probably wouldn’t want a whole lot of unnecessary chatter during a tight match.

Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball MAX’D gives you all of the options you would expect to see in a standard shooter – the only difference is that your bullets are non-lethal and the only splatter you’re likely to see is from the paint. Career mode is where most of your off-line time is spent and where you can earn money to purchase items or experience points. There’s also a quick match option, where you can take part in a standard match, and an online mode.

Career mode isn’t very deep, which is where the distinction between fan and non-fan will come into play. There isn’t much to do in the game aside from take part in paintball tournaments. Fans will like this because they’re fans; non-fans will likely find the pacing slow and not all that interesting. You begin by creating a character and slowly move up the tournament ladders. You begin in singles matches, then recruit a player and take on a new set of matches eventually leading up to full-blown matches.

Tournaments are made up of a set of matches. The idea is to climb up the tournament ladder and earn money to spend on new gear. Along the way, you’ll also snag real-life paintball players (a total of 53 are included) to fill out your ranks, eventually giving you a team of precision paintball players.

Online matches don’t tread too far from offline matches. The only real differences are that you’re playing with smarter players (all right, so you do run into some dullards) and you have the option of creating your own maps.

A.I. turns out to be one of the few major problems with Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball MAX’D. The A.I. controlled tactics are basic and seem to stick to routines rather than reacting to the match. They’ll even give you a hard time if you break away from the battle plan. 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 will really depend on the skill level of other players and how well you can work together as a team. Get two good teams together and you are in for a fun match.

Game Mechanics:
Any real depth found in Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball MAX’D is found in the controls. Called “Breakout Manager”, you can plan out all of the little details of a match, from starting points to maneuvers. Once in a match, you have the benefit of a simple, yet impressive set of team controls. Commands are few and really only use one button press, though if you’re not careful with how you use the commands, you could be in for a short match.

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 for everyone, but for paintball fans, or people who are interested in the sport but for whatever reason can’t do the real thing, it is a solid offering.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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