Rockstar San Diego
Rockstar Games
Sports
1-2
05.22.06

Table Tennis (Xbox 360)


Table Tennis anyone? Yes, Table Tennis everyone! Table Tennis has never been more intense! I recently had the chance to check out Table Tennis hands-on at a Rockstar Games event this Saturday (April 1, 2006). I also took part in the tournament that was being held. My first thought (as many other gamers) was, Table Tennis? How can this really be a game? Believe it or not, Table Tennis is a pretty intense sport, and once you play this game for about a minute, you will see how intense it really is. Just do a search for "Ping Pong", and watch a video to see what I am talking about.

Table Tennis uses the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine. Players noticeably sweat throughout gameplay, clothes get rippled, and there is an average of 30,000 polygons per character. There are a total of 19 different areas to play in (each unique), and the graphics are highly detailed in terms of reflections and lighting. There are a total of 11 characters from all different parts of the world including France, Japan, Brazil, Sweden, and many others. The character animations are very lifelike, and resemble a natural appearance as a ping pong athlete would look like. Each character has different attributes including power, accuracy, speed, and spin. You can also unlock different clothing for each player. Whether you are playing on a silent rooftop, or in a major arena, quick reaction time is what Table Tennis is all about. Probably the main reason why this game is so intense is because of the speedy reaction time that is needed. In some cases, if not most cases, you will be setting up your next hit before you even have time to think about it. Each player has a focus meter, and when that meter fills all the way up to green, you will be able to do everything in slow motion and stay focused. This is good because it will help you throw the other opponent off. In Table Tennis by Rockstar Games you win by waiting for your opponent to make a mistake, and that is the way ping pong is played.

While I didn't get the chance to play the game on Xbox Live, many of the nice Rockstar people that were there said that the online play is similar to the 1 on 1 local matches. I believe them. If you donít believe me, then once you play this game, this preview will make complete sense to you. This game does have a single player career mode, but multiplayer is where the action is at. Everything feels right with the controls (top spin, back spin, etc), and that is something that is extremely important in a game that requires quick thinking like this.

Some of the biggest competition I faced (in both practice and in the tournament) came from our friends at EvilAvatar.com, TeamXbox.com, and UGO.com. I made it all the way to the final game. Let me tell you how fierce it got. The tournament consisted of 25-30 people. The first match I was able to breeze right through. I lost my second game, but the tournament was double elimination, so I was not out of it yet. From that point on I stuck with my character (Luc), and won 4-5 games in a row. I barely had time to take a break, and these matches were very heated. I don't think I ever concentrated this much in a videogame before. With the lights dimmed down, the sound turned up, with everyone watching on a nice HDTV display, the final match was nerve-racking. I ended up taking 2nd place overall. I did get beat, but it was one heck of game.

From the moment when I first served the ball, to the slow motion sequences that take place, my first initial feel of the game was: this is going to be a great game. So with that said, if you liked Top Spin or Virtua Tennis, you will LOVE this game. You are definitely going to want to play this game. Developed by Rockstar San Diego (Midnight Club), this game has been completely built from the ground up and separate from the Top Spin developers. Table Tennis will be available May 22, 2006 with a price tag of $39.99.

Related Links:

Official Table Tennis Website

-Steve Melanson