The Basics: Straight from the category of "Didn't See That One Coming", Rockstar Games has announced a new next-generation title called Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis, due in late May exclusively on the Xbox 360. Yes, table tennis. And, yes, it's from Rockstar Games. Try and make that equation add up in your head without having it explode.
At first glance, it would be tough to imagine there being a whole lot to a ping-pong game. However, it's clear that Rockstar San Diego (the development shop) has put a significant amount of time into building out a title with depth of gameplay along with a variety of characters and settings. While we don't profess to know the ins and outs of the professional table tennis circuit, we're told that it will feature real-life equipment and apparel that's used by the pros. For now, we'll take their word for it.
Table Tennis is touted to sport an authentic physics engine, and will feature 11 different selectable players. Each of these characters will have unique gameplay attributes and styles, so in theory there will be lots of different ways to play and skills to master. Some of the techniques include power shots, heavy spin, and precision accuracy. Lastly, there are almost 20 different settings to stage matches. Some will be arenas, and others will be "special locations". All are planned to be meticulously detailed, displaying the wonders of next-generation technology that's being exploited by developers getting more comfortable every day with the 360 hardware.
And, lest you think that there must be some sort of seamy underside to the game, it is reported to have an "E" rating. We suppose that this nullifies any sort of chance for a defeated player to, say, bust out a baseball bat and carjack his opponent in the parking lot after a game. While that would probably be considered a Rockstar-ish way to settle differences, it's nice to know that Table Tennis will focus strictly on the sights and sounds of ping-pong being played in next-generation glory.
What do we think? We're not foolish enough to bet against Rockstar. While the targeted sport of choice is curious, to say the least, the brand name of Rockstar Games gives it some cachet and will certainly generate some early sales sight unseen. What will be interesting will be how compelling the final product is when it comes together – not to mention if it's a full-price $60 or goes the way of a Top Spin-level of $40.
For now, we're filing this under the heading of "Looks Promising But We're Not Totally Convinced". It's intriguing for sure, but we'll need to put our hands on the finished disc to know for sure. Check back upon release for a full review.