Table Tennis


posted 6/12/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360

When I first got Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis my friends made fun of me, they told me that I was crazy to be excited about something as simple as a game of ping pong.  They trotted out the usual Pong jokes, telling me that I should play a real man's game, like football or basketball or something.  But I wasn't going to let these naysayers ruin what promised to be a great game of table tennis.

It's easy to be skeptical about a game like Table Tennis, the idea seems so simple that it almost doesn't seem worth exploring.  Not to mention that it's not too hard to play this game in real life, even if you aren't very good at it.  But Rockstar's Table Tennis proves to not only be a great playing sports simulator but a very necessary one as well.

Without a doubt Table Tennis is Rockstar Games' most focused project.  For a company known for their open-ended cities and crazy mini-games, Rockstar Games seems out of place publishing a game this simple, this non-controversial.  But make no mistake about it, Rockstar's Table Tennis is every bit as exciting as the company's other titles … in some ways it may even be a little bit better.

Rockstar's Table Tennis doesn't bite off more than it can chew; it's nothing more than a great playing game of table tennis.  Don't expect any frills or gimmicks here; this is a very straight port of a very simple game.  Actually, it's not just frills and gimmicks you shouldn't expect, it's just about everything else you have become familiar with in modern day sports simulators.  Don't look for a story or career mode and you can pretty much forget about designing your own character.  Rockstar's Table Tennis allows you to play online and off and that's about it.

It's when you start to play Rockstar's Table Tennis that you realize where all of their time and energy went.  This is the type of game you can easily pick up and have a good time with, having a few heated battles against an easy computer opponent.  But don't be fooled by the simple controls, there's a surprising amount of depth to be found here.

The game of Table Tennis features four different hits, one per button on the Xbox 360 control.  You have your traditional topspin button, a backspin button, and two buttons that turn the ball in different directions (right spin and a left spin).  Along with choosing the direction you are going to hit the ball, you are also able to give the hit more power and find the location you want the ball to land.  Learning how to do all of this at once is essential if you want to win one of the game's four tournaments.

There are eleven different characters to choose from in Rockstar's Table Tennis, although only a few of them are available at the start of the game.  Win enough tournaments (or play enough exhibition games) and you'll eventually meet a diverse group of Table Tennis champions.  Each of the characters represents a different country, everything from the USA to China to Brazil and even Egypt.  Each of the Table Tennis champs has a unique stance and serve, they even hold their paddles differently.

The characters in Rockstar's Table Tennis do more than just look different; they actually have different strengths and weaknesses.  Much like a fighting game, the characters in Table Tennis have their own unique way of playing the game, each person feels different from the last.  Some are faster than others, others are stronger, some get tired quickly, and there are a few that are just no good at serving.  You will have to play every character if you want to learn who is right for you.

Strangely enough that's not the only similarity this game shares with your average fighting game.  Games are played with three rounds, or whoever manages to get two wins first.  Players take turn serving the ball and the first person to 11 wins.  Outside of that there isn't much more you will need to know about the grand sport of Table Tennis, which is good because when that rally gets going it rarely slows down.

Since the players are only feet away from each other the game's speed has a tendency of ramping up rather quickly.  You may start with a few soft hits, but it won't take long before both of you are trying to out-smash the other person.  If the game's stats are to be believed these balls can go well over sixty miles per hour.  With the ball traveling that fast all it takes is one stupid mistake and the point goes to your opponent.  Rockstar's Table Tennis is the type of game that gets real exciting real quick.  Although it's easy to compare this game to all of the tennis simulators out there, the game's speed and intensity really sets Table Tennis apart.

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