Table Tennis by Rockstar Games
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May. 24th, 2006 | 04:38 pm
posted by: theoni in gamingangels
I picked this lovely little gem up yesterday on my way to a meeting. I was itching to play it all night, and decided against better judgement to play it at 1 in the morning instead of sleep. I paid for it this morning at work, but it was worth it.
I wasnt really expecting much from this game. I mean, yeah, it was made by Rockstar, the notorious designer who made the GTA series (If you didnt know that, you probably shouldnt be reading game reviews) so I was expecting GTA3 esque graphics, maybe a woman of the streets I could "talk" to in the locker room and get my focus on, or quite possibly forgoing the paddle altogether and whipping out an uzi and annihilate my opponent in a barrage of white plastic orbs. But no, much to my enjoyment this is exactly what the title of the game implies. Table Tennis. It seems odd, but it works. I can only assume that the game makers were having a conversation like the following:
Game maker #1 - You know Stephanopolous, why cant we ever do anything I want to do?
Game maker #2 - If you wanted to go play ping pong or something we could totally roll that dawg, but you always want to go kill people. That just aint ... wait, I have an idea!
Im fairly positive that's how it went. And yes, that was a blatant rip-off of a Penny-Arcade strip.
Now that that is all out of the way. Let me get down to the brass tacks.
The graphics are amazing. Character models rival those of the great Fight Night Round 3. The table is almost a picture perfect virtual replica of a real life table tennis table. I might be wrong about that though, it could be a sparse of an inch under regulation standard.
The sound...works. It isnt anything that will blow your mind, but neither is it a load of crap. Besides, I was way too busy focusing on smacking that little white ball back and forth to even notice. What is nice though is that the crowd will throw some feedback your way, calling you names or praising you. And then there is the hush of silence and the dim of lights and things just go insane from there on out.
The gameplay is simple; however, I was impressed with how many buttons you had to use to smack a ball. But that just adds to the challenge. It's pretty much walk back and forth where the ball is going, decide what spin to put on it and how hard and where to hit that ball at. Simple. There is a nice focus button to use to try and derail your opponents returns and a soft hit button to, as the button implies, hit the ball soft.
The options. Im gonna be blunt, there arent a whole lot of options for this game. Or at least nothing that really stood out as OMG this is Totally Rox0r!11!1!!!One!!Eleven. Pretty much your basic set-up and functions.
Live capabilities are pretty good, I sat and watched no less than 5 matches as a spectator last night and was on the edge of my chair the entire time. It was actually just fun to watch other people play, and I hope that this feature gets integrated into more "sports" and "racing" games in the future. Setting up a match is a little jarring at first. Certain game types only allow for certain functions. You cant have a ranked game and play certain people, you play your way up. That should have been painfully obvious to most people, but Ive seen a few straglers out there running around with their thumb up their butt asking questions. Non-ranked games you can set up for private matches, etc.
The goodies. You start off with 4 players with two t-shirts each and a minimum amount of "arenas" I havent had much time to explore this area of the game, but I assume you can unlock the 13 other (I think, dont hold me to it) players and many more t-shirts. I cant imagine playing a game to unlock a shirt, but hey, some people juggle geese (Firefly ref)
Final thoughts. I bought this game for one reason and one reason only. To challenge my long time friend and rival on the battlefield of honor from many, many miles apart. But Ive come to realize that this game has a lot of fun in store for the single player who loves ping pong. Im gonna have to say, it doesnt promise a lot of diversity, so if you dont like the table tennis then this glorified and beautiful rendition of pong probably isnt for you. I on the other hand only hear the subtle tink of wood on plastic in my near future. It's the friggin sound of my addiction. Look for me on Xbox Live if you decide to get it.
This has been a blast,