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Comments by YACCS
Thursday, June 15, 2006

Table tennis for the masses

No exploding Ping-Pong balls, but Rockstar Games \
Presents Table Tennis makes the sport about as
exciting as it can be in a video game.

From the Maker of Grand Theft Auto ... Table Tennis?

Published: June 15, 2006

WHEN I first read about Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis, I thought it must be some kind of prank. How could Rockstar, the developer of such blood-drenched titles as Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, be making a table tennis game? It was as if Quentin Tarantino had announced plans to remake "Pride and Prejudice."

Table Tennis is not a prank. Nor is it some sexed-up sports game like Outlaw Tennis; there are no illegal matches in disreputable warehouses or exploding Ping-Pong balls. It's a table tennis game, and quite a good one at that.

Real table tennis is a small-scale game, and the video game version is also quite intimate; instead of the roar of the crowds, a good slam or a bobbled serve is received with a handful of cheers or groans. Even when the entire crowd is chanting your player's name as he nears match point, it is a muted sound.

The game neatly displays the subtler moments of table tennis; there are slow-motion close-ups whenever the ball skims over the net or ricochets off the edge of the table. Table Tennis also does a wonderful job with player reactions, which range from raised fists and triumphant expressions to a bitter scowl or a player suspiciously checking both sides of his paddle as if his defeat had been caused by a surface defect.

The control scheme is simple: spin is put on the ball with either buttons or the right analog stick, and direction is determined with the left. The ball is surrounded by a colored halo, which indicates the direction of its spin to give you some idea of where it will bounce. Presumably it's better to return a ball with the same spin, although I found the colors too faint to be of much use.

If you are playing against the computer, you will encounter one of several opponents, each approaching the game differently. Some lob the ball, while others slam it so hard that you must stay far behind the table to have any chance of hitting it. Some will miss a hard slam; others can be faked out with a dribbling serve that barely clears the net.

posted by Steve @ 12:44:00 AM

12:44:00 AM

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