No stolen cars. No snuff films. No hot coffee. It's officially time to get over the fact that gaming's most controversial publisher has created a game rated E for Everyone. Instead, look at Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis and ask yourself, "Damn - why hasn't anybody else ever put this much effort into making a killer Ping-Pong game before?" Because for whatever reason you didn't expect it, Table Tennis kicks ass.
To be honest, Table Tennis feels like a proof of concept - before the company starts cranking on big franchises like Grand Theft Auto IV, why not take the 360 out for a test spin with something fairly innocuous? Create two athletes, one tiny plastic ball and pack all the physical realism you possibly can into a game played with bulbous paddles and a wee net. Learn the tools, have some fun, get your bearings, put it out for a very reasonable $40 and then, with some other game, change the world.
Except this is Rockstar, so even the small stuff gets done in a big way. Graphically, there's no doubt Table Tennis is an Xbox 360 game; the detailed player models, subtle lighting effects (get a good rally going and the arena darkens for extra drama) and motion-blur effects put the hardware to impressive yet playful use. And with an easy-to learn, hard-to-master control system that balances force, accuracy and finesse, Table Tennis feels accessible without alienating "serious" sports gamers seeking strategy and depth. Online tournaments and easy pick-up games via Xbox Live will give you plenty of challenge, long after you've learned the weaknesses of all 11 unlockable computer players.