Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis
But you can call it "Ping-Pong"
For years, Table Tennis, more commonly known as Ping-Pong, has been a popular basement ‘sport’ that is easy to pick up and play. However you may soon find out it requires much more skill than you thought possible. Rockstar’s game does a good job of emulating this reality. The game doesn’t take long to get used to, but you quickly find out it’s easy to lose whether it be a hard CPU player, or even over Xbox Live with real human opponents.
The game features 8 playable characters, most of which are unlockable through various means of playing through the game. None of the unlockable players have any sort of backstory other than the country they represent, although the lifelike graphics make them seem all too real.
The graphics in Rockstar's Table Tennis is quite possibly the best so far on the Xbox 360. The characters look real, clothing will wave and wrinkle like in the real world, and the animations are smooth and realistic. Every character looks completely unique, and has their own quirks and playing style.
The playing arenas look very real, usually with a polished wooden floor, a referee sitting in his giant lifeguard-esque chair, and some seats visible in the background (complete with cheering fans!) and one of the things that really seemed interesting was that the fans aren’t just blocky, animation-looped mannequins. They react to how the players are doing, and look almost as good as the players themselves.
Straight down to the ball (yes, this pun is intended) this game's graphics is simply astonishing.
It’s really hard to mess up the sound in a game about ping-pong, and Rockstar had no trouble filling the game up with great sound effects and voices. Depending on how good your player’s power is, the sound of the ball bouncing off your paddle can be a little ‘ping’ (hence the name) or a loud ‘smack’ (would that make it… smack-smock?).
The crowd really seems alive in every game you play, as well. They will start cheering for whoever’s winning at the time, and if you start on a sudden losing streak they’ll start booing as you try to serve. For example, I've heard one member of the crowd start chanting my player's name over and over, and then stopped because the rest of the audience was dead silent. Also, depending on how long you can hit the ball back and forth between you and your opponent, the music will start coming in progressing as you hit the ball more and more. It’s a really nice little thing about the game that makes matches seem really intense, and gets you into the feeling of the environment.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward. You have to hit the ball back and forth, and try to get it to bounce once on your opponents side of the table, and then bounce off without him or her hitting it (there’s more to it, but this is a review, not a manual). The controls are done really well, you use the right thumbstick to put spin on the ball while using the left to aim it to certain points on the opposite side of the table. There are also ways to lightly dink the ball to make it harder to hit, or use ‘focus’ to make a better shot. One thing that bothered me, however, was the lack of extra things in the game. Sure, there are about 8 characters, each with 5 or 6 unlockable team shirts, and one or two playing arenas - but it doesn’t add much variation to the game itself.
One feature I was almost positive they would put in the game, but didn’t, was a create-a-player feature. That really upset me because this seems like the sort of game that would have that feature be the first idea thought of. As for the actual game, it’s mostly you versus an easy, medium, hard, and later All-Star computer-controlled opponent in either single-match or tournament flavors, and there isn’t too much offered after that.
One thing the game delivers well on is multiplayer support. You can choose to go against one person, or participate in a tournament. I have yet to see lag in a match, which is great. Though you find out quickly you’re not as good as you thought you were. No matter how good you are, there will always be someone better than you (there’s always someone worse, too) when playing in the world arena of Xbox Live multiplayer.
Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis is a game with great graphics, sound, multiplayer, and gameplay off the bat. However as you play it you realize there isn’t much to play after that. Really, this game is best played in short bursts, taken off the shelf once every day or so, and it’s a good game to play at parties, but you should look elswhere for a good long-term game.
Replay value: 2
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