Rockstar has done it again. With such great games as Manhunt, The Warriors and Grand Theft Auto IV, I was a little surprised that they would take on a game like table tennis. My first thought was that there really wasn’t much you could do to make video ping pong very exciting. I couldn’t have been more wrong. While this isn’t the epitome of gaming, it rates well above other table tennis games.
While a single player can play this game, it’s much better in the multi-player mode. The basic premise is the same as real table tennis: two people face off across a table and rally to score points. The singles version gives you the choice of playing exhibition matches or tournaments. Just like in the real world, exhibition matches are just games you play against the machine. Tournaments are long affairs against a string of different players. Tournaments can be set for three different levels. The Amateur level consists of 3 matches; the Pro setting has 9 matches while the Expert has an almost limitless amount of matches. If you find a tournament to be too long, you can quit and the game will save your progress. The multi-player mode can be even more fun than the single player mode since you’ll get to play against your friends or on-line against strangers.
Players have the ability to choose from 11 characters, although only 4 are available at first. Like most other games, each character has their strengths and weaknesses. There are opportunities to unlock skills and upgrades as well as new playing environments and costumes, throughout the game. Unfortunately, you can’t create your own character or challenge.
The graphics in this game are outstanding. Game creators really did their homework in creating a realistic game. Characters begin to sweat, clothes drape naturally and players have real facial expressions. Even the way different characters hold their paddle shows the realism. The sounds are also very realistic. You can clearly hear life-like cheers from the crowd. During intense moments of play a very cool soundtrack will start up and rev up the excitement.
In this game, players can control ball spin in a way other games only dream of. If you can do it in real life, you can do it in this game. You can even do combination spins to really give your opponent some trouble. It takes about 30 minutes to get the hang of this game enough to consistently product the shot you want. Once you do master it, then the game really gets fun.
One of the best features of this game is Focus. Each player has a Focus meter that builds up during the game. Focus lends additional accuracy and power to your shots. You can use your Focus whenever you want, but if you save it up until your Focus meter is full, it will go into effect on its own. If both players go into Focus at the same time, the game play rockets into overdrive, with the ball moving at incredible speed. This is the only time during the game that your Focus won’t build up instead it slowly drains off.
This game doesn’t offer a great deal in terms of options, so folks looking for a lot of variety will be let down. It doesn’t offer much flash either. What it does offer is straightforward, realistic table tennis. By focusing more on the one-on-one play, Rockstar has created a great table tennis game. Hard core gamers probably won’t care for this game too much. Table tennis enthusiasts and recreational gamers will enjoy it, though. This may not be the best game in the world, but with its $39.99 price tag, it’s definitely worth picking up.