I really wanted VR Ping Pong to be good. I did. I really, really did. After the immense fun I’d had with Holoball on PSVR, I expected the simpler VR Ping Pong to be better than it was. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
The basic idea behind the game is simple: Ping Pong, but in VR. Simple enough, right? You hit the ball with your paddle and try to outplay your opponent to score points and win the game. It really is that simple. So simple, in fact, that the mentally challenged Forrest Gump was a god-damn master at Ping Pong. While Mr. Gump and I do share a few similarities in the brain department, our Ping Pong experiences are wildly different, though this isn’t down to my lack of skill.
Naturally, being a PSVR title, you’ll need to don the pricey headset. You’ll also need to make sure you’ve got a PS Move wand controller to hand, though you only need the one. You’ll boot up the game and see a fairly simple menu with a few different game modes. There’s Arcade, Tournament, Practice – nothing special, just the standards.
I first booted into a quick game and within minutes I was turning the air blue. This is supposed to be a Ping Pong simulator, is it not? Then why does it not play like Ping Pong?! I served up my first ball and – BAM – it’s gone flying into the crowd of pixel people. I tried again with a little more finesse only to have my ball bounce pathetically on my side of the court before my opponent was handed a cheap point.
This is pretty much my entire experience with VR Ping Pong on PS4. Seriously, I couldn’t get a decent back-and-forth going in the five hours of play. Instead I broke (F**K!!!!) my PS Move wand in anger (note: see anger specialist) and wrote the game off as a waste of time. Because that’s what it is: a waste of time. Any attempt to hit the ball with the paddle was a test of patience, and for a man such as me, that’s a test I’m always going to fail. It’s not that the tracking is terrible (it’s actually not bad) but it’s that the game’s physics just to be, well, buggered. Any attempt to aim a placed shot goes tits-up, and half the attempts I made to volley the ball back towards my opponent were unregistered by the game; I’d be right there with my paddle, I’d swing like my life depended on it, yet the ball would often flop past me.
So, there must be some redeeming qualities, right? Well, yeah, but when the gameplay is no fun, the rest is kind of pointless. The graphics are nice enough, though I can’t say I was a big fan of the chosen art direction, though everything was very clear. The sound effects were so-so and the music was just there. Nothing really stood out, and if it did, it was overshadowed by the piss-poor gameplay that cost me a) the price of the game and b) a broken PS Move controller. Oh, and c) five hours of my sanity.
VR Ping Pong is just not a good game. Maybe it works well on other platforms, but for the PSVR it's a poor match. The tracking works in that your movements are translated accurately, but the game's physics are the real hinderance to the gameplay. Ping Pong is a game of finesse. A game of well-placed volleys and calculated spin shots. VR Ping Pong is a game of luck, and just like the Las Vegas casinos that deal in such a commodity, the house will always win.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game that was bought at the expense of the reviewer. This has no effect on the final score or the content of the review. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
* Reviewed using a PS4 Slim.