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Review: Rockstar Table Tennis

Rockstar Table Tennis Review FTW

While I’m writing this my palms are still sweaty and my heart is still pounding. I just played a pretty long game against Haley. We were both at match point and we got deuce after deuce. We were both equally as good and we had rallies up to 40 shots at a time. One wrong move and I would be out of the tournament. This is Rockstar´s Table Tennis at its best. But how good is the rest?

Rockstar surprised everyone when they first announced that they were going to do a table tennis game but the intentions were good. Rockstar tried to create the most intense sports game ever without relaying on an expensive license or a popular sport. And they succeeded at that. Rockstar’s Table Tennis is one of the most intense games I’ve ever played.

Rockstar Table Tennis

The game doesn’t have a lot of modes or customization options to play with but I didn’t miss those at all. There’s a Tournament mode with 4 tournaments ranging from easy to very hard. There’s an exhibition mode in which you can take on an easy/medium/hard CPU opponent or an offline real one and there’s a simple Training mode which guides you through all of the various shots and techniques. The training mode could’ve been a little bit more extensive since it only teaches you the very basics and there are no mini-games or challenges to train your skills.

Some reviewers gave this game crap because of the lack of a career mode but I didn’t miss that for one second. There’s a lot to unlock, each of the 11 characters has 3 outfits and 2 stages to unlock. And 6 of those characters are unlockable themselves. You have to work through all 4 of the tournaments and do a bunch of special shots (service ace etc.) to get all your content. Each character has their own unique skills and you’ll really notice them while playing. Jesper for instance is a really strong but slow character, in order to beat him you’ll have to use a completely different tactic then when you’re trying to beat Haley, who’s really fast and accurate. Both of these examples result in very distinct matches and it really forces you to come up with new tactics and combos.

Rockstar Table Tennis

The controls are very easy to learn yet very hard to master. The left analog stick is used to move your character around, the right one is used for the different kinds of shots/spins. This works surprisingly well, I tried this game against some people who never play video games and after 10 minutes they were all capable of giving me a pretty hard time. The game responds very fast to your commands and the controls didn’t frustrate me for one second.

This game is the best looking sports title I’ve ever played. The players look amazing, the physics of their clothes look very realistic, they sweat, the animations work very fluently etc. The arenas are set up to be very intimate and intense and this all contributes to this weird but amazingly intense experience. The game really grabs your attention and doesn’t let go of it until you’re done. Rockstar used a bunch of tricks to make the game more intense and they succeeded at that. When you rank up a rally longer than 10 shots the uplifting trance soundtracks starts playing, when you and you’re opponent are both in ‘focused mode’ the lights are turned down so that the only thing that lights your table is a spotlight hanging above it etc… This works really well and it really gives this game a unique edge.

Rockstar Table Tennis

Rockstar licensed 47 dance tracks but none of those were familiar to me. It works well for the game but it’s nothing like the radio stations in GTA. But the soundtrack supports the intense nature of the game and doesn’t become annoying. The announcer has enough vocabulary and mixes up his sentences nicely so you don’t get annoyed by hearing the same lame commentary every game. The characters could use a little more dialogue, I’d love some trash talking but I understand why Rockstar didn’t do this.

The game seems to be made for Xbox Live and Rockstar did a good job at it. You can have 1 on 1 games against friends, time tournaments, ranked matches etc. There is a mode called ‘TableTennis Network’ which allows you to spectate other people’s matches, similar to Gotham TV in Project Gotham Racing 3. When I tried to play this online I had some really bad lag which can really kill your game. It gets really frustrating when you can’t see what your opponent is doing, you can’t anticipate his next move anymore and the whole point of the game gets ruined. But this is just a minor problem, I’m pretty sure the lag has to do with my crappy connection and you probably won’t experience it yourself.

Rockstar Table Tennis

I do have one problem with the game though but that has to do with the nature of the sport itself. Table tennis (the sport) gets really boring if you play it longer than 2 hours and that goes for the game as well. Slamming a little ball from one end of the table to the other one just gets really repetitive after a while and there’s nothing Rockstar could’ve done about it. This is really one of those games that you have for a quick fix when you’re bored or when you have a bunch of friends over but as I said: it does a good job at that. I really hope other developers take note of the intensity of this game and I hope we’ll be seeing more games as intense as this one.

Rockstar Table Tennis

Final Score: 8 out of 10 - Good (how do we rank games?)

(This puppy gets an 8 partially because of the 40$ price point but mostly because it’s a great game)

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19 comments on 'Review: Rockstar Table Tennis'

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Comment by Jasonic on 2006-05-28 21:03:57 | Reply

Great review!
I agree on all points although I give it an 8.5.
Great game!

I´d give it an 8.5 if we worked with .5´s :)

Great Review! Im also loving this game! Great fun online, not played single player yet but ill get round to it and im sure it will fun aswell :D
9/10 for me :D

Comment by Klutch86 on 2006-05-28 21:31:18 | Reply

9/10 for Table Tennis.

Comment by Hoffer on 2006-05-28 21:36:03 | Reply

I’m not into this game. Played it for 3-4 hours yesterday and couldn’t get the hang of it. My brains not wired right for it.

I’m thinking ’bout renting it. Looks like fun.

Damn, wish I could rent Xbox 360 games from here.

Comment by Kicks on 2006-05-28 22:38:30 | Reply

The more I play, the deeper I realize the game is.
I learned some new techniques by actually reading the manual, imagine that :)

You can do swing combinations to add to the mix. You can hit a and x for a fast left spin, a and b for a fast right spin, y and x for a slow left spin, and y and b for a slow right spin.

To top that off you can even hold away from the table to try and place the ball closer to the net and towards the table for the deeper shots :)

I give Table Tennis a 9/10 for giving depth to a game that I never thought could have depth.

That’s why I play with my right analog stick instead of my buttons, it’s easier to do fast+left spins that way imo :)

Comment by Kicks on 2006-05-29 00:34:09 | Reply

It’s easier to gain focus with the buttons though :)

I’ll try the analog stick again at some point.

Comment by Kicks on 2006-05-28 22:39:30 | Reply

Oh and on another note, I have not run into any of the people that just talk constant trash that I have playing other games like DOA4, Fight Night Rd. 3, and GRAW

Comment by dudez0r on 2006-05-28 23:09:52 | Reply

Review more games guys you rock.

Thanks, we def. plan on doing more reviews. Always nice to hear positive things like this, we appreciate it. :)

I’m gonna see if I can’t review LOTR for you guys ;)

Do you get sent review copies or do you just buy them?

For now we buy them. If any publishers read this: we’re interested in review copies, please save me the trouble of having to negotiate with 200 publishers ;)

Comment by Cheese on 2006-05-29 14:15:48 | Reply

I agree with this review. If you don’t have xbox live (or don’t have any friends) then, unless you’re a sport fanatic, don’t buy this. It hasn’t got a huge single player but you can tell this game was made for multiplayer. Time can fly in this game, its great on live. If it was $60 i’m sure there would be an uproar, but for $40, you can’t go wrong!

Damn, it’s a pretty difficult game! I didn’t think I would have any problems completing the game, but as it turns out it’s pretty damn hard :D
Love it though :)

Comment by PaulWillocks on 2006-08-08 15:13:08 | Reply

Ive just bought this for 17 UK Pounds from Amazon brand new! cant wait to play it. I know I’m a bit late on the bandwagon but I dont care! :P

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