Grab your helmet, strap on your goggles and be a squad leader as you strategically maneuver to defeat your opponents. The idea behind this game is that you’re the leader of a team of paintball players whom you lead through a paintball season. How well you do will determines whether you can upgrade your team with the latest weapons and restock your ammo and CO2. There are five fields of battle (desert, forest, urban, space and medieval combat), eight different weapons, and you can battle it out solo or in a multiplayer brawl.
That sounds pretty exciting and the screenshots looked okay, so I was anxious to get my hands on this game. Unfortunately, this game failed to deliver. If any organization gives an award for worst game of the year, Extreme Paintbrawl will crush the competition.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The first thing you see is a menu screen where you can configure your controls, view help or enter the game’s main menu. You need to set up the controls immediately, because if you click the button to enter the main game menu, you’re unable to configure them from there. I was a bit surprised at this, because even Doom allows you to change your controls at any time, and Doom came out five years ago! When I tried setting up the controls, I was again disappointed; instead of being able to auto-detect what key I was pressing, I had to manually select everything from drop-down lists. Not only was this time-consuming, but it also made finding a particular key harder than looking for a needle in a haystack. The developers also neglected to add all the actions to the mouse list, so I was unable to assign certain items to the mouse buttons (like jump).
The practice mode is extremely frustrating, because instead of adding a target range that features stationary and moving targets, you’re thrust into one of the five fields where you wander about without ever coming into contact with an opponent. This doesn’t allow you to really test various weapons or improve your marksmanship, and is confusing at first because it doesn’t tell you that there aren’t any enemies.
In season mode, you must hire your ill-defined team members and then use the leftover cash to equip them with guns, ammo and CO2. I was appalled at the lack of AI in any of the computer-controlled characters (both yours and the enemy's). You can’t directly command your teammates (a MechWarrior or Outwars type of control would have been nice) and instead have to jump into their bodies to take control of them. When the computer is controlling your other team members (and the enemies), they will just stand there and twitch, bump into walls and get stuck, or amuse themselves by shooting you and other team members. Unfortunately, when the enemy shoots they’re always extremely accurate and since you're out with only one shot (unlike Doom or Quake, where you can take some body damage before you die), you can lose when the enemy is still only the size of a few pixels. If you see something moving, you’re unable to tell if it’s friend or foe, so you just have to start shooting or wait until it shoots at you. Your own team members will on occasion fire at you, so even the "wait to see if it shoots" strategy is useless. It would also be nice if you could change the camouflage to match the terrain and sketch out a basic plan of maneuver for your team members before you start the game.
The game also has some horrendous bugs. If you start a season, exit the game, and then re-enter the game, the season is still loaded but you’re unable to view the schedule. The game also crashed often when one of my team members was hit.
Although there is multiplayer support, no Internet play is supported. This puts this game at a real disadvantage against other first-person shoot ‘em ups.
Extreme Paintbrawl uses the obsolete Build engine, the same one used in Duke Nukem 3D. However, the environments aren’t even up to Duke Nukem 3D’s standards, because the corridors and rooms are often plain and the maps are poorly designed. Depending on where you shot, the paint would sometimes hang in midair as if waiting for someone to accidentally run into it. This can most easily be seen when shooting at various objects, like a barrel. If you’ve ever played Unreal, Quake, Quake II or Turok, you’ll be extremely dismayed and won’t keep this game for long.
There is hardly any audio, and what there is often doesn’t work right. For example, there were occasions when the shooting sound wouldn’t work right, but the other sounds would.
Pentium 90, Win95, 16 MB RAM, mouse, CD-ROM drive, SVGA card, 50 MB free hard drive space, sound card
The online help isn’t very helpful and the CD jewel case doesn’t come with any documentation. The help documentation is very disappointing.
Don’t buy this game. Even though it sells for $19.99, which is usually a bargain for new games, in this case they’re asking ten dollars too much. If your heart is really set on buying this, go to the local used software store first; you’re bound to find a pile of Extreme Paintbrawl CDs to choose from. The graphics are outdated, the controls are horrendous, the crashes are frequent and the audio is terrible.