Rockstarâs Table Tennis is the game that will finally answer that age-old question of whether todayâs technology offers more than just the same games with better graphics. After all, Pong is the first video game that was ever available for purchase and Table Tennis, at its core, is Pong. There is only one right answer to the question, and that answer is maybe.
Actually, its more of a âyes and noâ. Table Tennis certainly offers more than Pong ever did. Although itâs just a shrunken-down version of tennis, the game has a lot of features you wonât find in other tennis games.
Primarily, the major innovation in terms of gameplay is the importance of placing spin on your ball. Topspin and backspin, as well as leftspin and rightspin, are used for tactical advantage, rather than just being included to justify using all four face buttons. Highlighting the ball in a certain colour represents a certain spin, and this allows the player to probably judge the best returning shot. Coupled with smash shots and soft shots, there is a level of depth not found in other tennis games.
However, outside of a few gameplay innovations not much has changed. Yes, there is the usual Xbox 360 features â online is excellent and the achievements are balanced and fair â but these hardly bring much to the general âPongâ experience. Certain characters (read: Jesper) will challenge players, but the AI is nothing that wasnât found in Pong.
Yes, the graphics are excellent; theyâre actually some of the best to be found on the 360, and the opening attract mode demonstrates this. But the commentary is limited and the music practically nonexistent. And many of the achievements can only be achieved by going online, which limits the offline experience.
Online, Table Tennis is great fun. With a friend, itâs excellent fun. Playing the CPU is frustrating and will limit the amount of rewards that can be obtained from the experience. Ultimately, however, it is a fun and accurate rendition of the sport, and the budget pricetag only increases the value. If you like tennis and canât wait for the bound-to-be-beyond-awesome Virtua Tennis 3, pick up Table Tennis to ease your pain. Even if you donât like tennis, give Table Tennis a shot. It may not be more than a sophisticated version of Pong, but then again, Pong was so fun that it jumpstarted this industry.