While Iâ€™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 RockstarÂ´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. Rockstarâ€™s Table Tennis is one of the most intense games Iâ€™ve ever played.
The game doesnâ€™t have a lot of modes or customization options to play with but I didnâ€™t miss those at all. Thereâ€™s a Tournament mode with 4 tournaments ranging from easy to very hard. Thereâ€™s an exhibition mode in which you can take on an easy/medium/hard CPU opponent or an offline real one and thereâ€™s a simple Training mode which guides you through all of the various shots and techniques. The training mode couldâ€™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 didnâ€™t miss that for one second. Thereâ€™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 youâ€™ll really notice them while playing. Jesper for instance is a really strong but slow character, in order to beat him youâ€™ll have to use a completely different tactic then when youâ€™re trying to beat Haley, whoâ€™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.
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 didnâ€™t frustrate me for one second.
This game is the best looking sports title Iâ€™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 doesnâ€™t let go of it until youâ€™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 youâ€™re opponent are both in â€˜focused modeâ€™ the lights are turned down so that the only thing that lights your table is a spotlight hanging above it etcâ€¦ This works really well and it really gives this game a unique edge.
Rockstar licensed 47 dance tracks but none of those were familiar to me. It works well for the game but itâ€™s nothing like the radio stations in GTA. But the soundtrack supports the intense nature of the game and doesnâ€™t become annoying. The announcer has enough vocabulary and mixes up his sentences nicely so you donâ€™t get annoyed by hearing the same lame commentary every game. The characters could use a little more dialogue, Iâ€™d love some trash talking but I understand why Rockstar didnâ€™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 â€˜TableTennis Networkâ€™ which allows you to spectate other peopleâ€™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 canâ€™t see what your opponent is doing, you canâ€™t anticipate his next move anymore and the whole point of the game gets ruined. But this is just a minor problem, Iâ€™m pretty sure the lag has to do with my crappy connection and you probably wonâ€™t experience it yourself.
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 thereâ€™s nothing Rockstar couldâ€™ve done about it. This is really one of those games that you have for a quick fix when youâ€™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 weâ€™ll be seeing more games as intense as this one.
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 itâ€™s a great game)