Game Review – Top Spin 4

Having never played any of the previous 3 Top Spin games I didn’t have a series benchmark to compare Top Spin 4 to. I have previously played the series main rival in Virtua Tennis 3.

OK, let’s get the general stuff out the way.  Top Spin 4 contains an array of different venues on all four surfaces – clay, grass, hard court or indoor. There are 42 venues in total including 7 official licence venues but no Wimbledon though.

  • US Open – Arthur Ashe
  • Roland Garros – Paris
  • Australian Open
  • Sony Ericsson Open – Miami
  • Barclays ATP – The O2 London
  • Paris Bercy
  • Indian Wells

The game also contains what developer 2K Czech say is biggest player roster in the franchise to date with 25 current and past players including – Andre Agassi, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, Jim Courier, Rafael Nadal, Boris Becker, Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic, Ivan Lendel and Pete Sampras.

Gameplay & Control System

There are 5 main modes to the game with Exhibition, which allows you to quickly play a game against the computer or with friends, Top Spin Academy,  which trains you on the various aspects of playing the game with a variety of tutorial challenges. Career mode is an in-depth career mode that allows you to rise from a rookie to the ranks of a superstar, playing in minor tournament all the way through to Grand Slam events and the ATP World Championship. The fun King of the Court mode which I really enjoyed can be played against the CPU or with friends and is basically a winner stays on series of games with each person aiming to win 5 games in a row. This along with the practice events can be described as the games only mini-games style events. Finally there is the online mode allowing up to 4 players to play each other in online matches and tournaments.

First thing I did was to create my own player. Top Spin has a fairly detailed and optioned filled create a player mode that offers a variety of player looks, licensed rackets and clothing. As you play through the career mode you will also be able to unlocked new rackets and clothing for your player. Winning games, practice events and other special events allows you to gain experience points that enables your player to level up their individual skills and you also gain more fans. You can also hire coaches in the game that will set you specific challenges that when met give you more experience points and abilities. To be able to rise up the Top Spin rankings table, move from Rookie to eventually Super Star and open up more events including the Grand Slams, you need to have a certain experience levels and fans base.

As a first time player of the series I found the controls and gameplay instantly accessible though having played a lot of Virtua Tennis I was expecting this.  What I did notice was that the controls were tighter than those on Virtua Tennis and also allow for more realistic and more challenging gameplay. An example is that I would be running cross court for the ball, just out of reach and would press the flat shot button expecting my player to dive and hit the ball as often happened in Virtua Tennis  only to find that I didn’t dive and I didn’t return the ball. After my initial disappointment I actually realised that this was the more realistic situation than the at time ridiculous ability of players to make diving return shots over and over again in more arcardy Virtua Tennis.

Without a doubt Top Spin 4 is the more realistic tennis game in terms of gameplay and controls and as a result forces you to move around the court, position yourself correctly and use a variety of shots to win a point.  I found myself doing an Andy Murray style celebration on the sofa after winning a long rally with a great shot.

Playstation Move controls

The version of the game I have is on the Xbox 360 with standard controller settings, but I was able to download the PS3 demo which allows you to play using a Move controller. I found the Move controller responsive and accurate and it gave the game an authentic gameplay feel. I would definitely recommend if you have all 3 systems and want the game then pick it up on the PS3 version for the Move and Dualshock controller options.

Presentation

The character models of the pro players are realistic with past and present players instantly recognisable. I also love the little touches in that if you’re a tennis fan like I am and follow the game, you will notice the style and mannerism of players have been captured from the way they move to their service style, their signature celebrations and even the grunts some female players are famous for.

The game boast TV style presentation, all-new visual and audio elements that aid in establishing an authentic feel with pre-match animation sequences, diverse crowd reactions and audio effects. Stadiums are very well recreated along with authentic brand apparel and rackets.

Conclusion

Top Spin is a good game that allows you to really experience a tennis career and is probably the best Tennis sim game available. It’s looks great, plays well and the King of the Court mode is a great addition. The career mode is really deep and will give you hours and hours and game time. If you’re after a realistic tennis game that looks good, has good gameplay and a large roster of professional players then Top Spin 4 is defiantly for you. If you want a more arcade playing game that’s probably a little more fun with more mini games  then you might want to wait till Virtua Tennis 4 hits the shops later this month.

Buy-Rent-Avoid

This is a buy for me.

Top Spin 4 is available now on PS3, Wii and Xbox 360.

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