For the purpose of transparency, this review was completed using a review code provided by Merge Games. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of this product.
VR Ping Pong brings another sports similar to the Playstation VR, and one that is not available within any of the other games – but does it deliver a good experience?
Firstly, as expected there is no story to the game, but they do offer a Practice mode, TT Cup (tournament mode), Single Game, and an Arcade mode.
Gameplay wise it is what you would expect, you hit balls with a paddle. Not that game can’t be fun at first, but it can become a bit boring after a while – this is down to playing a very simple designed AI that doesn’t really move about a much; making it feel like you’re just playing against a wall, and not an opponent. The leads to one of the biggest let downs for the game, which is the decision not to include any multi-player into the game, for me this is where a sport simulator is going to keep its longevity and lifespan. Meaning the decision not to include seems a very odd one.
Given the above they have attempted to make the game have a longer lifespan with the aforementioned Arcade mode. This offers six mini games like trying to hit targets, and one where every time the ball hits the table it would leave a hole. Where at first these seemed like they could be fun, due to accuracy issues they soon became boring and stale. However, some players might like this mode and get more out of it than I did.
Visually, they have not done for anything realistic with the title – the AI, Referees, and the crowd remind me of 3D Dot Heroes (Playstation 3) – but you would maybe not expect realistic visuals from a game like this, I just think it might have been better that way. Other than this the table, paddles and ball all look fine, and once you start the game your eyes are usually locked onto the ball and paddles to make sure you pull off your next shot, and claim the next point.
For the audio Merge Games have gone with upbeat music, crowd noises, and of course the sounds you’d expect in a game of ping pong. I personally found the crowd noise to be off-putting and annoying, but, they have included the option to turn that off in the options (which to me was a blessing). The sound of the ball hitting the paddle and table sound 100% authentic, and that is and should be the main audio, and what will make the game feel immersive.
The game has to be played using the Playstation Move controllers, and they have included two options for this; one controller or two controllers. With the one controller you will have to use the D-button in the centre of the controller to throw the ball up and then swing to hit it with the paddle. I found that the game was best with the use of two controllers, this way you use one controller to throw the ball in the air, and the other as the paddle – this was the most immersive way to play it. I did however find one issue with the two controller scheme, if you moved the controller used for the ball too close to the paddle controller, it sometimes caused the paddle to glitch out.
With the game being very much played in the same place in there is no issues with discomfort in this game. It can be played both stood up and sat down, but, for the best tracking and to allow the movement about the table to make your shots it’s best to be stood up if possible. The main issue I did encounter when sitting down was the tracking – it seemed that sometimes it picked up maximum power from a light movement, and vice-versa, also stretching to reach the wider shots was also difficult.
Games like Ping Pong or other paddle based games were quite a success once motion gaming emerged, so add this to VR it should a winning combination. But, taking the winning formula from these, and then taking some questionable decisions around the visuals and not including multi-player, really takes away from the experience. With the only option being to either play the AI or the Arcade mode, the game can very soon become stale, and one you will find it hard to keep playing.