Review by gtafan16
A dry and frustrating game, not quite fulfilling even as a budget title
Like most people, Table Tennis caught my eye initially because of it's developer, Rockstar. I'm not nearly as much as a fanboy as my username would lead you to believe (I picked it 3 years ago when I was 16 and getting excited about GTA Vice City,) but I readily admit the R* name was enough to get my attention. Now, a week after my purchase I'll hopefully give you an idea of what to expect. Please keep in mind throughout this review that I know this game is generally liked in the gaming community, but my personal preferences led me to dislike this game. It is by no means a piece of crap, but not my cup of tea at all.
This game looks really good, but lacks any sort of wow factor that you would expect your $400 new Xbox 360 console to give you. The player models look good, but not Fight Night Round 3 good. You will see some pretty cool effects like the facial expressions after a round and the rings of sweat around a player's shirt after a game. Another cool thing you'll notice is when you go to the player model viewer in the options screen you can even see hair on the player's arms and legs, although this is something you'll never see during the actual game. The environments look probably as good as they possibly can, but don't expect any flashy stuff since this game goes for a simulation of real table tennis than a flashy arcade style game.
Once again, you really can't complain about the sound here, everything sounds like a real game of table tennis sounds. I didn't like the music (mostly techno) but you don't hear it too often. Mostly the music only plays in the menu and when you get a rally going in the game the music slowly gets louder and louder as the game gets faster. Much like my complaint in the graphics department, and you'll hear this again throughout the review, the sound is good but not WOW!
I feel like I'm being generous in this department to give it a 7. You will hear a lot of people comment on this game that it is easy to pick up, and hard to master. I feel this is fairly accurate, but I also feel that the game provided me very little motivation to even remotely desire to master it. The different buttons on the controller swing the paddle different ways, whether it be a top, back, left or right spin. The controls are frustrating to me because the analog stick you use to move back or forth and to and from the table is the same analog stick you use to aim where on the opponents side of the table you want the ball to land. Many times I would unintentionally move far to the left or right of the table when all i really wanted to do was hit the ball to the far left or right (I hope that makes sense.) I also prefer the Dreamcast's Virtua Tennis style of playing where you swing when the ball gets to you, as opposed to this game where you need to hit the button way early to charge your swing.
The first time I played it I got absolutely destroyed by my 10 year old brother who has been playing it at a friend's house for the last couple weeks. The next day I beat a couple of the game's tournament circuits and then challenged my brother again. This time I was able to not only beat him, but shut him out completely. Then I turned my attention online and was quick to notice that I was having less and less fun each and every time I played. The games would go something like this: 50% of the time I would get so severely beaten that I felt like my opponent was cheating, even though that probably wasn't the case at all, and I felt like breaking my controller. About 40% of the time I would be the one kicking ass and taking names. The other 10% of the time was actually the fun games where my opponent and I would be pretty neck-and-neck and got the rallies up to 50 or more hits.
That skill gap was a huge factor for my enjoyment in this game and I felt like the game generally failed to balance between the different players, especially online.
This game doesn't have a whole lot to offer here. When you start the game you are giving a choice between Tournament circuits, exhibition games, or multiplayer. That's pretty much it, no minigames are cool features. The unlockables are pretty thin too. There are three things to unlock: new characters (start with 4 and eventually get 11-12), new sets of clothes (just different colors....big woop), and new arenas (there's nothing good to look at at the arenas except the tables, so this doesn't appeal to me either.) You don't get any kind of career mode, story mode, or create-a-player, so after you're done unlocking everything all you will want to do it play online, and you already know how I feel about that part of the game.
Overall Score: 6/10
I've had this game for a week and I feel absolutely no desire to ever play it again. At it's very core it is a well-made game, but somewhere along the line I think the developers forgot to add the fun. People are calling this a budget title because of its $40 price tag at its release date. I call a $20 game a budget title and in all honesty this game would be and will be a more justifiable purchase at $20. I read recently that the RAGE engine used for this game will be the engine R* uses on its next GTA game. It would be nice to see a nice set of in-depth minigames such as Table Tennis built into a GTA game. All in all I would recommend anyone interested in this game to rent it first, because you're more than likely gonna love it or hate it. Thanks for reading.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
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