I could not tell you the last time I had a game of Ping Pong. It was probably on holiday years ago, in one of those resorts that seem to have a table set up permanently for tourists on their downtime between the beach and bar. What I’m trying to say is that it has been a long time since I had an actual, real world game of Ping Pong, and VR Ping Pong did an excellent job of reminding me of this – but with the added benefit of not having to bend to pick up the ball from the floor every single time I lost a point.
Making it’s way to PSVR, VR Ping Pong is an excellent recreation of what is a relatively simple game. With motion controller in hand (something that feels like it was designed with the sole purpose of recreating a table tennis paddle in VR, considering it’s shape in your hand) Ping Pong seems like a natural fit to the growing catalogue of PSVR games, and one that is ideally suited – how many of us have the space required to set up an actual, real-life Ping Pong table? VR Ping Pong negates that fact by having the table instantly appear in front of you the second you don the headset, and it is surprising how quickly you forget that you could be sitting in your bedroom in your pants and start to believe the virtual world you now inhabit, simplistic graphics and all.
It is quickly apparent that VR Ping Pong does not sell itself on graphical advancement, but this is quickly overlooked as you play. Everything from your VR opponent to the crowd that “ooo” and “ahh” in all the right places are made from simple cubes, giving them a Mario circa 1988 look, with the only round edges appearing in the shape of your virtual racket and spherical ball. This may sound a little jarring, but it works surprisingly well as you hone your skills as a Ping Pong master.
As you would expect, tracking is crucial in order for this game to work, and VR Ping Pong just about nails it, providing your VR setup is in a suitable location. As you would expect, pitch is controlled by adjusting the angle of your wrist, and power by how hard you strike the ball, exactly as you would in a real game of Ping Pong, and this was the biggest problem I had while playing. I found I was constantly adjusting how hard I hit the ball, as I would often overshoot the table by hitting the ball too hard, and immediately overcompensate and struggle to clear the net, messing up my two serves in the process. It was this that became my biggest hurdle, navigating the controls in such a way as to balance power with accuracy in the virtual space, and how much of this was the tracking’s fault vs how much was my own lack of skill I am reluctant to say, but it did get a little frustrating to say the least, only made up for by the fact that I didn’t have to constantly scurry around on the floor to pick the ball up after it had gone awry.
Alongside the standard quick match and tournament modes VR Ping Pong does offer up a few arcade games to hone your skills further, and my recommendation would be to start with these to get used to the way the game plays and how best to strike the ball, as it was through these arcade games that I actually started to feel like I was getting better at playing – until I fired up a quick match and got quickly knocked down a peg or two. The arcade modes are a fun distraction from the 1vs1 main game, and do extend the gameplay a little bit further beyond the repeated battle against the AI. The biggest miss in the modes available to play is any form of multiplayer, which is a shame as having this option might serve to better pitch you against a player of a similar ability, as the AI difficulty is still anything but a push over in even the easiest setting – again maybe more of a reflection on my own ability than the game itself, but it was still a little disheartening to be beaten so easily early on as I got to grips with the controls.
Above all VR Ping Pong feels designed to be played in short, sharp bursts, and had a game like this been available upon launch, I might not have suffered so many bouts of VR-induced sickness as I have, as a game like this is ideal for allowing yourself to adjust slowly to the VR environment. If you are looking for a new rabbit hole to dive down for hours on end I would give VR Ping Pong a miss, but for quick bursts of fun, it really hits the mark.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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