As if the original Extreme Paintbrawl wasn't bad enough, Head
Games is back at it again with the release of Extreme Paintbrawl
II. If anything, they've got balls the size of grapefruits releasing the
sequel, after the original title was reamed by the gaming press as
one of the worst titles of 1998. Unfortunately, or perhaps not so, I
never got the chance to play the original Extreme Paintbrawl, so
I'm heading into this review with very few expectations. However,
if the original was as bad as this sequel is, I'm glad I missed it.
According to Head Games Publishing, Extreme Paintbrawl II is
"Serious Paint Flying 3D Action". Uh huh. The object of EP2
is to assemble a team, choose camouflage, weapons and ammo,
assign tactical maneuvers, and strategically eliminate the
opposing team as you progress through six diverse 3D
environments. Wow, I actually made that sound like it could be
fun. Oh well, time to tear that statement to shreds.
So what's wrong with Extreme Paintbrawl II you ask? Just about
everything. Graphically, it looks old. The environments are
uninspired and lack depth. There's very little detail in many of the
objects and obstacles found in the game. The enemies and even
your team members are all dressed in black, so at least we can't
see how bad they look. There are six battlefields in total, but none
are very unique. When you walk around the parking garage, every
level looks the same.
Let's move along to the audio component. Ok, this game doesn't
have much of that either. The menu music is the best part of the
sound department. Once you jump into the game, you'll wish you
were back at the menus. The sound effects are limited to weapon
sounds. You can't hear enemies footsteps, let alone your own, no
matter if you're walking on concrete or metal stairs. When you
give team members tactical orders, they respond with the usual
'Right away' type comments. When your team members or
enemies get shot, they raise their arms and release a sign of sorts.
Bottom line, the sound department is as basic as you can get.
Let's touch on the gameplay aspect of Extreme Paintbrawl II. You
can play in one of two modes, Instant Action or Season Play.
Instant Action is self-explanatory. You simply select your team
members, arm them, and jump straight into any one of the
battlefields made available. In the Season Play, you have to
complete the objectives of each battlefield, gaining money in
the process. You'll have to manage resources by purchasing weapons
for your team, hiring and firing team members, and arming your
crew. Before each mission begins, you're given a briefing with the
mission objective, and the ability to give your four other team
members tactical orders. Not bad to start with, but it all goes
downhill once you actually get onto the battlefield.
The Artificial Intelligence is just plain dumb. There are three
different tactical settings for your team members; Defend, Assault,
and Follow. If your team members follow you and see an enemy,
they automatically break into Assault mode and run around like a
chicken with it's head cut off. They run into walls, crates, whatever
they can in a random pattern that no less gets them shot in a few
minutes. The only saving grace is the Defend position, at which
point they'll kneel down and stay still. You can only control the team
captain unless he dies, at which point you can take over the next
man in charge. The enemy AI? It's only slightly better than that of
your own team, so don't expect much.
Did you know paintballs curve like baseballs? Well they do in real
life and they do here in Extreme Paintbrawl 2. The only problem is that
it's far too unpredictable to take advantage of. Firing two shots in a row,
without moving your sight, will almost always end up with two completely different
results. There were also times when I fired a paintball and missed my opponent by
several feet, yet it seemed to register a hit. No consistency at all.
And the controls, oh the controls. Although configurable, four of
the most important controls were pre-set permanently. You
MUST, and I can't emphasize that enough, look up or
down using the mouse. You MUST turn to the right or left
using the mouse. Heaven forbid we're able to change that. Can
you move a mouse on a perfect line, horizontally? If you can't,
you're going to turn around a corner and look up or down
accidentally, only to realize a second later that an enemy was
around that corner and because you looked up, you're now shot. I
don't use my mouse when I play FPS, please don't force me too.
So is there any good in this game? There are a variety of weapons
available, that's cool. The ability to manage resources is a nice
addition. There's tons of gear at your disposal. When a mission is
completed, or not, individual and team statistics are made
available. The menu screens are easy to use and the mission
briefing and setup are a good start to each battlefield. Once the
action gets going though, yikes.
Am I expecting too much from this game? I don't think so. I'm
aware this is a budget title, but so was Nerf ArenaBlast. The two
games are similar in concept, except ArenaBlast is on a whole
other level. There's a fine line between good budget and bad
budget. Simply put, Extreme Paintbrawl II looks like it fell off the
ugly budget tree and hit every branch on the way down.