Needs a Second Coat
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 doesn’t 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 you’ve finished the training missions, you only have a few options for actual play. The most notable of these is the tournament mode. Here you’ll 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 character’s core abilities, making every member on your team much more formidable. These abilities include speed, accuracy, communication, marker (paintball gun) handling, and reload.
Most of the events in tournament mode are capture the flag affairs requiring 2, 3, 5, or 7 man teams. In these matches, your team can reach victory by stealing the other team’s flag and returning it to your team’s base. This can be achieved by eliminating all of your foes then going for the flag, or if you’re feeling lucky you can also just make a mad dash for the flag at any point.
This typically results in failure but the ability to cheat can make it a fairly viable option. Whenever you are tagged with a paintball, a swinging bar appears on your screen. As the bar swivels, stopping it in its small green area will result in wiping the paint splatter off and continuing with the game. Once you’ve mastered stopping this meter it can become incredibly cheap, especially since failing only results in your elimination which would have happened anyway. I do find it fairly odd that the game seemingly encourages the player to cheat because of this, considering all of its warnings against doing so in its loading tips.
Before every match, players are also able to set their team’s overall strategy. There are a few preset strategies for each arena such as a spread formation or having your entire team overload a specific side. However, where things truly get interesting is in building your own strategy for each match. Here you can place each of your teammates behind specific cover and instruct them in which direction you want them to fire. This is an invaluable option that adds quite a bit of strategy and enjoyment to the game’s fairly repetitive matches.
The repetitive nature of the game’s events is easily NPPL’s biggest drawback. No matter which type of match you are playing and which characters, equipment, and strategy you are using, you are essentially doing the same thing each and every time. Run to cover, peek out, shoot, proceed to the next point of cover, and repeat. Each match also only takes a minute or two to complete, so fatigue can set in rather quickly. Even with the ability to create your own play fields, alter your strategies, and play online with up to fourteen players, the experience falls flat relatively fast.
In the end, NPPL could be a decent package for many paintball enthusiasts but doesn’t include enough variety to satisfy most players. The game looks good, plays well except for a few issues with more complex maneuvers, and accurately recreates a realistic paintball experience. The ability to customize your strategy, team, gear, and even create your own play fields are great but only serve as a minor distraction from the game’s completely repetitive matches. Playing online with human opponents adds a bit of longevity to the experience but ultimately NPPL just gets monotonous far too quickly.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.9 Graphics
Some stiff animations and blocky shadows detract from an otherwise good looking game. Still, you’ll find some nice lighting and paint splatter effects throughout. 2.7 Control
Leaning, snapping, running, and aiming all work well but quite a few troublesome issues arise when trying to jump, crouch, and slide into cover. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music fits the game well but the serious lack of tracks makes repeatedly listening to the few included ones rather painful after only an hour or so. 2.3 Play Value
This game gets repetitive extremely fast, even with the ability to play online and make your own play fields. 2.4 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.