I was expecting many things from Rockstar. Mobsters, vendettas and ten dollar hookers in the back of your car - in other words, all the wholesome entertainment the company is known for. Noone however expected that this bad boy of a developer would release a table tennis game, but they did and it's pretty damn good.
Who knows what was the original reason behind this project. Maybe it was intended as a test platform for the RAGE engine, later used in Grand Theft Auto IV or maybe guys at Rockstar San Diego are serious ping pong fans. Still, the fact is, that Rockstar's Table Tennis came out to be one superb title with nice graphics and addictive gameplay. I'm not a huge fan of sports but I won't miss out on a good game when I see one. I got hooked on Sega's Virtua Tennis games few years back, but now it's time for some table tennis instead.
The game plays like similarly to many other tennis games I have previously tries. If playing the previously mentioned Virtua Tennis, Top Spin or even Smash Court Tennis came easy to you and you found it enjoyable, you'll feel at home once you boot Rockstar's Table Tennis. The game plays exactly how you'd expect it to play and that in itself is something worthy of an applause. The San Diego team really put some time and effort into polishing the gameplay aspect and the game does not dissapoint.
You'll be bouncing the ping pong ball back and forward using all of the Xbox 360 controller buttons, each one corresponding to a different type of strike. Right and left curved balls, slams and so on. There's even a gauge that once leveled, can be used to slow down time, allowing you to act quickly in dealing with tough opponents. Once you master the power of all the buttons, you'll be able to put up a fight against a stronger player and there's nothing equally rewarding to a lenghty battle ending with your advantage.
Table Tennis was first released for the Xbox 360 and that's the version I bought. A year later the game was ported to Nintendo's Wii, featuring all new wiimote controls, but I decided to go with the first release, mostly due to its price. One thing that I always found appealing in the Xbox 360 version are the character details. Even though the players look pretty generic with little to none personality, their polygonal models are extremely detailed. For obvious reasons, the graphics got simplified when the game got ported to the Wii and that was that for neat t-shirt physics and reflections on the floor.
The game doesn't offer much except for the always present tournament mode and multiplayer, so once you score gold on all difficulty settings, you better find yourself someone to play against. And they better be at least as good as you are, otherwise they'll get tired of losing and leave, and that's a lesson learnt from life, boys and girls.
Like in most decent Xbox 360 titles, you can of course play online and upload your scores to internet leaderboards. If your Xbox 360 is connected to the world wide web, you'll never have to worry about the lack of opponents and the game will gain almost infinite replay value. Table tennis might seem like a simple game, but believe me, there's more depth to Rockstar's title than meets the eye.
Above you'll find a trailer for the Xbox 360 version of the game. If what I wrote about this title is up your alley, don't think twice and get it. Rockstar was nice enough to slap a lower price on this game, and since it was overlooked by many, it's not a rare sight in bargain bins. It might not be as entertaining as a ten dollar hooker, but you will enjoy it. After all, everyone loves ping pong.
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