Table Tennis


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

The presentation in this game is first class from beginning to end, the game looks as good as it plays.  The venues are never as large as what you find a basketball or football game; instead they are small cozy locations with poor lighting.  From time you time you will get an audience, but there are just as many levels where it's just you and another person in an abandoned gym.  There are 19 different venues in all, including a few that are real easy on the eyes.  It's interesting to see the difference in the table tennis table; some are fancy while others appear to be run down.  But no matter how good the backgrounds look, chances are you'll be too busy trying to keep track of the ball to actually pay attention to the surroundings.

The characters themselves look amazing, especially when the camera gets up close and you see their emotions (and virtual skin).  You can really see how tired the characters are as the match goes on, they start breathing a little harder and their clothes start soaking up the sweat.  The clothing itself is independent from the player's body, which means that it has a tendency of moving all around and bunching up.  With its realistic animation and characters, Table Tennis definitely looks and feels like a next generation game.  It may just be table tennis, but it's the best damn looking game of table tennis you've ever seen.

The game's sounds aren't too shabby, either.  Instead of constantly blasting music, Rockstar's Table Tennis takes a minimalist approach to the audio.  As you start your rally all you will hear is the audience and the ball hitting the table (and paddles).  Then, as your rally increases, the music gets louder and louder until it's right there intensifying the already exciting action.  Miss the ball and you're right back to a game without any music.

But the real star of Rockstar's Table Tennis is not the music; it's the audience that gathered to watch your match.  The people in the audience really seem to be paying attention, as they often say things that actually make sense to what is going on in front of them.  It's fun to hear their different cheers (and taunts), and the audience reacts differently depending on what venue you are playing.  Obviously sports games have been featuring audiences for years, but with all of the action taking place in closed quarters they come across as being very realistic, they are very authentic.

Actually, that's one word I would use to describe all of Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis.  The way the graphics, sound and game play comes together this game feels very authentic.  It doesn't try to be more than it is, it's just a great playing game of table tennis.  This is a loving tribute to a sport that gets very little coverage.

The fact that this game is so much fun to play is for the best, because there's nothing else for you to do in this game.  After you've played a few exhibition games and won the four tournaments it's really just you against your friends.  The multiplayer modes is where the fun really starts, there is nothing like playing your friends or taking your action to the world online.  It's easy to set up the type of game you want and get a friend in there, and once you get hooked you will want to play everybody … all of the time.

Rockstar does such a good job with the table tennis aspect of the game that you almost with there was more.  But with its $40 price tag it is easy to forgive Rockstar's Table Tennis; it manages to do everything it set out to do and nothing more.  Sure it would be nice to be able to create your own character or play with four players, but the moment you start playing it you forget about those minor elements.

Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis may seem like an unlikely sports game, but it ends up being one of the best playing games of the year.  This may just be the best sports game currently available for the Xbox 360, a must-own for everybody that likes a good two-player game.  Oh, and as for my friends that made fun of me for being excited about a game of table tennis, they're all addicted to it just like me.

Rockstar Games comes through with one of the best playing sports games of the year. It may seem unconventional, but Rockstar's Table Tennis is easily one of the most fun two-player games since the original Street Fighter II!

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