Of white balls and garrote wire

May 24, 2006 by Tim

I picked up Rockstar Games Presents: Table Tennis. When they first announced this title, I was really interested in it… I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was just the novelty of a company like Rockstar doing a complete 180 in gametype from something like GTA. Or I wanted to see if they could really simulate a good game of ping pong.

It definitely delivers some good gameplay. There’s a learning curve, but one on one matches against someone else can be intense. Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot more to the game than that. I thought the single-player mode was a bit boring. Great graphics and great gameplay this game definitely has, I just wish there were more to the game modes.

I also played through the Hitman: Blood Money demo that came out on Monday, and it felt good to be back in Codename 47’s shoes. And with a new graphics engine to boot. The game appears to be just as violent and fun as it’s ever been, but I do have a few issues with it.

First and foremost would be the tips, the “headlines” at the top of the screen. I’m not sure if they were quite that explanatory just for the demo level, or if it will be like that in retail, or if you can turn them off via an option I didn’t see, but they literally walked you through every step of the mission. It must not always be there, because Hitman was always about choosing from 3-4 viable methods of assassination, depending on preference. I’ll hold out for retail and see.

My other issue is a love-hate relationship concerning the control “tree” on the top left of the screen. I love that it tells me exactly what one of my three main buttons will do at any given time if pressed. Too many times in games one button does multiple actions depending on context, and if you aren’t standing in exactly the right spot, it may do something you don’t intend. Pick up a weapon when you want to open the door. Open the door when you want to drag a body. Drag a body when you want to urinate on the remains. You get the idea.

The problem with the system is that I found myself always looking at the tree to see what action I was performing, before doing it. I felt it sort of yank me out of the gameplay every few moments, because there were such a wide variety of actions spread across these three buttons, I wanted to know what I was doing. Again, I’ll hold out for retail and more than one mission to pass final judgement. It may be something that becomes second nature.

I also like that damage you take stays with you for the mission. Nothing like running around an abandoned amusement park with a large, bloody hole right through your sternum.


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