Who would have thought a ping-pong game would be so much fun? Not only is Table Tennis a blast to play, but it has some of the best looking player models I’ve ever seen.
The Good: Absolutely incredible player models. Nice, crisp sound effects as well as interactive crowd noise. Lots of unlockables in the way of additional playable characters, uniforms and courts. Very challenging and will keep you on your toes.
The Bad: Character balancing seems way off at times. It gets hard, fast. Weirdness during online play if you don’t have a fast connection or if you’re experiencing a slow period.
Gameplay Video (8:19)
Let me start off by saying that I’m as surprised as you are at my score for this game. Seriously, who would have thought a next-gen ping-pong game would be good, let alone great? Not this guy, that’s for sure! And to make this whole situation even more absurd – I went out and bought it the day after it was released and having only played it for about an hour previously.
From the get-go I was fully impressed with Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis. The player models are some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to believe they’re not pre-rendered at times. The way clothing hangs off the players looks so realistic and their mannerisms are perfect. Reactions to missed shots or when the ball goes out of play are instantaneous and once again, perfect. They really put a lot of effort into making the players look and act as realistic as possible and man, did they ever do an amazing job! We’re in for a treat if GTA 4 looks as good as Table Tennis.
To get you going, there’s brief training exercises which walk you through the mechanics of the game and give you a quick run-down of the rules. At first, it felt like there was a lot to remember, but after a couple of matches I fully had the hang of it and was kicking ass and taking names. There are four basic shots – left and right spin, and topsin and backspin. You can control how hard you hit the ball using the shoulder bumpers – left is for soft shots while right will hit harder and faster. The ball’s landing position on the opposite side of the table is determined by you as well using the left thumbstick to aim for your shots. Table Tennis makes use of the rumble feature in a way that I’ve not seen before. If your shot is going to land close to the edge of the table or the net, it will start shaking. When it shakes wicked bad, you’ll end up out of bounds. So you have a split second to correct yourself if you’ve botched your shot.
Each player is totally unique and it will take you a game or two to really get the hang of using them. Some are more finesse players that are great at spins and more accurate. And others are more on the brute force end of the scale. Which brings me to Jesper. When I was played against Jesper I got absolutely destroyed two games in a row. I think I might have scored two or three points per game. The dude is 6’4″, 240 pounds and beats the hell out of the ball. He’s got a forehand shot like no other and will totally annihilate you if you deliver him a shot to his forehand. It took me a while to figure out how to beat him, but you basically have to return all soft shots and direct them at his backhand. If you try and beat him by rallying at full force, you’ll get your ass handed to you. You’ll see me use this method in the gameplay video and take him down for the win. Most of the time he seems to get frustrated with your soft shots and will slug it back and hit it out.
This game is super fun to play online, but it has it’s down sides as well. A lot of people seem to be sticking to Jesper since he’s such a powerhouse. It’s gotten to the point where I back out of a game as soon as I see him now. It’s just cheap. But a bigger problem occurs if you have a slower connection or are experiencing a slow down. Some times your opponents player will just stand there and not even move while his/her shots are still being returned. The first couple times this happened it totally threw me off as I thought the ball had bounced off of them or they just missed it all together. Meanwhile, the ball is headed back in my direction and I’m busy shit-talking ’cause I think I just scored a point. D’oh! Other than that, it’s a lot of fun to play with your buddies.
I really didn’t think I would end up with a sports game in my collection. Not to mention, a ping-pong game! But Table Tennis is just great fun and easy to just pick up and play. I’ve even played a few games with my 7 year-old daughter who had no problem learning the controls and how to use the various shots.