Saturday, March 26, 2011

Top Spin 4 | Review

If you like Tennis, you're going to love this!

2K has sent us their latest Tennis offering with the new Top Spin 4.  I haven't played a Top Spin title before, and I haven't even played a Tennis game (Table Tennis doesn't count) since the Dreamcast days when it was called Virtua Tennis.  That being said, how does the newest entry stack up?  Quite well actually.

Tennis as a video game, is going to have a niche appeal.  It's not going to draw the Madden crowd or the MLB fans; like it's real-life counterpart, Top Spin 4 is for Tennis lovers.  For those that love the sport, the skill and strategy is all here.  For those like me, who haven't played in a while, I swiftly jumped into the Top Spin Academy (training) feature first.  There's a variety of training, from the basics, to more advanced techniques.  I had to get my racket wet a bit before starting any real games.  Once I completed the training, I created a player (there are numerous amounts of customization, or if you're like me, you can just randomize yourself to get started).

Career mode is where the meat of the game is at.  You begin at the bottom of the latter, participating in a series of small tournaments and special training matches.  You earn XP as you play, as well as if you meet certain objectives of a match, you'll get bonus XP.  This allows you to level-up your player.  Like a good RPG, you can't take on the likes of Agassi, or Federer as a first-timer, you need to build your reputation, boost your skills, and use every move in your arsenal to take down the best.  (This is sounding like a lot of fun!).  It's akin to your leveling up in the Tiger Woods series, or the leveling up found in racing titles like Forza 3; as you get better, more events, and tournaments open up for you to conquer, and there's something quite satisfying about that slow, methodical approach to playing. 

The gaming atmosphere is great as well.  In the first few spars, you're playing at a local tennis club, with a few onlookers; but once you make it into tournaments, the crowd reaction keeps is pitch perfect.  Control is great as one would expect from a game that requires the finesse as this one.  Timing has to be just right to pull off the more advanced moves, but the tight controls allow for a natural evolution of one's skills.

Outside of the career mode, there are a few other modes worth mentioning; of course there's straight up exhibition play, when you want to just jump right in with pre-set characters, and not worry about the long process of career mode.  You can play singles or doubles against the computer, or even take on some online opponents.  Speaking of online, there's a wealth of options there as well.  There's the full-on career mode also, where you play against actual human opponents; the skill is harder, but the rewards are that much sweeter.  You can also play exhibition modes of online if that's your thing.

All in all - Top Spin 4 is really the best Tennis game out there; I know there's not much competition, but this one will have you playing for hours.  Graphics are great, controls are superb, atmosphere is recreated perfectly, to give you the best experience available.  Highly Recommended! gives Top Spin 4 an 8 out of 10

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