Growing up over the years I lived to play ping pong, so imagine my delight when I became aware that the creators behind the [i]Grand Theft Auto[/i] series were putting out a [i]Table Tennis[/i] game! Once Rockstar puts their heads together to develop something, great things are bound to happen. Anticipating the game to no end, I scoured the Internet daily for new screen shots and game-play videos. Finally the day came when Rockstar released the full 720p trailer on Xbox Live… ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh I was mesmerized. The fluid nature of the characters every motion along with the ever growing sweat stain on the character’s back as the match progressed lead me to believe I was watching a live match between 2 humans on ESPN! That was it, this game shall be mine.
I picked the game up on release day and quickly got to work. I was super excited to pay only $39.99 for a brand new Xbox 360 game right off the shelf as opposed to the usual sticker price of $59.99! After playing through the options and minimal game play I found out why this game was released as a “budget game” and not a super star $59.99 release game. The training mode is an absolute must if you wish to get past the 1st round with your dignity in-tact. Here you will learn how to serve, return, and place shots at various locations on the table. Once training is complete you are ready to take on the computer in either quick game mode or tournament mode, but not your buddy sitting next to you who also happens to like ping pong…yeah that’s right the game does not support 2 players on the same TV screen…what is that about Rockstar? Moving past that huge hole in the game, I went into the Tournament mode which is basically the story mode in which you can unlock new features in the game like new outfits, tables, and players. The tournament allows you to choose your difficulty for which I chose medium. The 1st opponent was a breeze but the 2nd was a bit more difficult, but not by much.
The in game physics nearly match that of the Xbox 360 version of [i]Fight Night Round 3[/i]. Do not get me wrong, the game looks and handles great but not like EA’s [i]FNR 3[/i], sorry Rockstar, close but no cigar! After playing around with the pre-built characters for awhile in the tournament mode, I went back to the main menu to try and create my own player based after the greatest player to ever hold a paddle, me! After poking around some I found that in addition to not being able to have a 2nd player on my own television I also do not have the ability to create a player, strike #2 Rockstar! “Oh well,” I told myself, “I guess this truly is a budget game.” Feeling disappointed about the lack of features got to me so I needed to take a break.
After giving the game a few days rest I got back on the saddle. Putting behind what I already knew the game lacked, I decided to go in with a fresh mind and try the game again for what it was. I played through a quick bracket in tournament mode and really got into the game. What the game does not tell you is that it really likes players to rally the ball. When you rally, the rally hit counter increases and along with that a little power-bar increases that when full can be used to power hit the ball for a few strokes. This power shot comes in great when trying to hit winners or perform special shots. Once in awhile when either player really gets into the game, the screen blacks out the environment and focuses in on the players at hand. This “zoning in” feature was pretty cool and really captured what it feels like to be “in the zone.” Overall this game packs great graphics, great player physics, and good game-play. However the lack of features sadly drops this game down into rental status for me.