Top Spin's control is wonderfully simple: Each button on the controller corresponds to a different style of shot. No weird combos or superprecise maneuvers are needed to succeed on these courts, and anyone can play like a pro in minutes. It all really comes down to faking out the guy or gal on the other side of that net, and getting the momentum going your way. Smooth graphics, excellent online options, and a hefty Career mode sweeten the deal, but the gameplay's truly the star. Nothing beat the feeling I got when my opponent (let's call him Bryan L.no, that's too obvious...B. Intihar) buckled under the pressure of my intense flurry of skillful lobs and overhead smashes. Even after handing him his ass on countless occasions, I kept cornin' back for more."]
Microsoft steps up to the service line and nails an ace with Top Spin. I'm not even a fan of the sport and I can't stop playing. Why? First off, the game's intuitive controls mean anyone can pick up the controller and play competitively. Likewise, hitting cross-court winners with ease looks superb, thanks to natural player animations. With an incredibly deep Career mode and online opponents, all that's missing from this glorious package is mixed doubles matches. But hey, there's always next year.
Tennis (Dreamcast) fan, I was looking for only two things from Top Spin: easy access with a shallow learning curve that lets even non-gamers get into it, and an in-depth Career mode for when all the party people go home. Turns out I got more than I wanted--this is probably the best game of tennis I've ever played. Great graphics, plenty of tournaments, and organized online competitions make it indispensable. Plus, it has Anna Kournikova slapping another girl on the butt with her racket. OK, so that's three things."]
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While tennis games have never been main stream, the success of Sega's Virtual Tennis has helped push them in the right direction. The solid gameplay and graphics allowed for a realistic tennis experience that many are still enjoying today and have little interest in moving on from. That is all about to change as Microsoft's Top Spin has served an ace, offering an even deeper experience few wouldn't enjoy.
It's rare to have the first attempt at a sports title be this well polished. Inevitability, typical pitfalls plague new titles such as parts of the gameplay failing to act correctly; usually with the athletes not responding correctly or the control system being loose or cumbersome. Top Spin however suffers from none of these types of issues and comes out surprisingly refined. The gameplay in particular is outstanding, as both the AI and control systems are able to mimic actual tennis strategies. In addition, different spins are easily selected, ball placement is challenging but doesn't require absolute perfection, and the physics of the game is on target creating an authentic experience.
Besides the great gameplay, Top Spin also has a full feature set including exhibition, career, and online capabilities. The bulk of the game is focused on the career mode, as you'll be able to create your own player from gender down to the hook in their nose. Mini games are also included to improve specific skill sets as you'll start with the small venues, working your way to number one in the world. The early tournaments do a good job of breaking you in and the larger venues increases the challenge at a reasonable pace. The career mode is matched by the online capabilities with almost identical functionality as the single player games but with the ability of moving up or down the leader board on XSN.
The graphics are also a big contributor to the quality of this game across the board. The players are highly detailed, the stadiums and courts are impressive, and the ball visibly reflects the intensity and power placed on it by the player. The sound effects also are appropriate and reflect the expected sounds from a tennis match.
Top Spin delivers a complete package that moves the bar up for tennis games. With solid gameplay and well executed online features, it is safe to say Top Spin has supplanted Virtual Tennis as the tennis leader and the series will be around for some time.