Can you remember the first tennis game you played? If you’re a golden oldie, it would have probably been Pong. Pong was such a simple game with the ball getting batted from one end of the screen to another. Since then the tennis game has evolved – We now look at the action vertically as opposed to horizontally. Oh, and there was a game called Virtua Tennis that was totally awesome.
There was never really a game to rival Virtua Tennis; fast paced action with a fluid control mechanic. It was only until Top Spin was released on the Xbox that Virtua Tennis’ crown was threatened. Top Spin boasted the arcade fluidity that Virtua Tennis provided, but expanded on that by providing an in depth career mode and an online mode.
A few years on and Top Spin is ready to return on the Xbox 360. As you would expect the game has had some spit and polish since its last outing on the previous Xbox. Environments such as the Greek Arena used in the E3 demo provides a range of amazing graphical touches, right down to the flowers on the floor. This aside though, Top Spin 2 doesn’t quite boast that level of quality that Microsoft executives have promised us for the Xbox 360. While there is nothing entirely wrong with the characters at all, hair and facial expressions are not quite to the level expected. On the contrary, the game is still in development, and 2K will probably apply a number of finishing touches before the game is released this December (November for the US).
As far as Gameplay goes, not much has changed from the predecessor. The Xbox 360 pad buttons will control the way you strike the ball: lob, spin, etc. Moving the analogue stick will control the angle at which the ball is struck. The controls are as tight as the original game allowing for a solid game of tennis.
One of the frustrating things about Top Spin on the Xbox was the lack of doubles in the online mode, however online Top Spin 2 will boast simultaneous 4 player doubles matches, where you can mix the sexes if you so desire. Top Spin 2 will boast 25 real-life tennis players, over 30 environments to play on and a range of different modes to play including a career mode which will build on the slightly linear one provided in the original game.
Everyone should find some enjoyment in Top Spin 2, whether you’re a fan of the original, a tennis fan or a new gamer. While the game is unlikely to be the title that everyone is ‘dying for’ come the launch of the Xbox 360, gamers should expect a solid tennis experience both online and offline.