|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Fun Labs||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-14||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Are you tired of killing countless space aliens, mutated creatures, zombies, or some combination of the typical first-person shooter enemy stereotypes? Would you like to face off against completely normal human adversaries instead? How about if all your weapons are completely nonlethal? If you answered yes to any of these questions or are just really into paintball, then NPPL Championship Paintball 2009 might just be right up your alley.
NPPL eases you into the paintball experience slowly, running you through a series of training missions. These are separated into the three major categories of required paintballing skills: accuracy, fitness, and leaning and snapping. Accuracy missions teach you how to shoot; Fitness educates you on the finer points of movement; and Leaning and Snapping introduces you to the critical strategies necessary for keeping your outfit paint splatter free.
Firing a paintball gun is similar to firing a real gun, just point at your target and pull the trigger. However, with your large supply of paintballs, the speed at which you can fire, the lack of a scope, and the somewhat inaccurate spread, firing in large controlled bursts is essential to your success. Your basic movements in the game work fairly well, being able to sprint from cover to cover with relative ease. Unfortunately, more elaborate movements such as jumping, crouching, lying on the ground, and sliding into cover all feel rather clunky.
Jumping can only be performed when in close proximity to low-lying bunkers and often doesnt work correctly. This is due mostly to the fact that it utilizes the same button as sliding into cover. Sliding can also cause some issues since it can be difficult to judge exactly where your cover is in the first-person perspective. Expect to slide to where you think should be safe just to get splattered with a paintball because you are actually still very much exposed. This was a consistent problem when I was playing, realizing all too late that I was really beside the cover that I was trying to get behind.
Thankfully, once you get behind cover, the game plays fairly well. Players can switch their paintball guns between whichever hand they wish to use at any time. This is a very useful feature that you will definitely need to help combat enemies who advance from all sides. From behind cover players can lean, essentially peeking out from whichever side your gun is handled to fire off a few rounds and then quickly ducking behind again. Snapping functions similarly but is used for shorter cover, allowing you to pop above the cover for some quick shots. These maneuvers work admirably and can also be switched between at any point to make you a much harder target to hit.
Once youve finished the training missions, you only have a few options for actual play. The most notable of these is the tournament mode. Here youll take control of a team, choose your teammates, outfit them with gear, and progress through several events. Your gear and possible teammates are pretty limited in the beginning but successfully completing tournaments will unlock some better options and cash with which to purchase them. Money can also be spent to level up each characters core abilities, making every member on your team much more formidable. These abilities include speed, accuracy, communication, marker (paintball gun) handling, and reload.