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Few things resemble real-life videogames quite like paintballing: 1) You dress like a member of Half-Life’s Combine; 2) It’s the only time hiding in ferns is acceptable; and 3) You actually get to shoot real living humans. And they bleed. Albeit in blue. For all intents and purposes, it’s COD 4’s Chernobyl level sponsored by Dulux. So why oh why is Millennium Paintball as enjoyable as a shot in the eye?
Mechanically, it’s a shocker. There’s absolutely no sense that there’s a body attached to the eyes. You’re meant to be diving behind cover and tucking yourself in as paint peppers the defenses, but often you find seemingly impossible shots snagging ghost limbs. Do we have a gigantic invisible shoulder no one’s told us about? It’s like playing a shooter in spectator mode; far too ethereal for the body-armoured brute staring out from the menu screen.
And toss away images of stalking your prey through the undergrowth, this plays by the NPPL’s rules – an official sporting body apparently tasked with draining all the fun out of shooting a fellow man with a pretend gun. There are inflatable barriers, AI teammates and flags to be captured in an arena-based event that doesn’t seem to alter from the first game of the tournament to the last. You pump stats into your squad, let them do the shooting and waltz up to the flag. Bing, bang, snore.
The fidelity to the official sport is the game’s biggest failing. Yes, those may be properly branded inflatable bunkers, but it makes for arena after arena of identikit plastic mounds. And the punchy nature of the two minute rounds makes for a bitty experience, more loading screen than playtime. And it’s tied up with a bizarre dose of macho posturing – thrash metal played over camcorder footage that was most likely shot by the players’ mums. Ah bless.
It reminds us of the time we went paintballing and received a shot to the knee. Stepping out of cover to acknowledge the loss, the bastard marksman capped the other knee. One insult after another; that’s Millennium through and through.
Apr 13, 2009
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