I confess. I don’t think I had ever been more eager to buy a game than Top Spin 4. Considering the fact that I had played every installment of the series (from it’s Microsoft roots to the current Sports2K publisher) I had a lot of high hopes riding on the latest incarnation.
First the bad : The game has definitely been ‘tweaked’ in an attempt to attract new fans to the game. It is not exactly being dumbed down as I had read on game sites, but you’ll notice a lot of ‘tips’ during gameplay.
The game now has a lot of indicators such as where the ball will land, ‘powerbars’ to let you know how to gauge one’s shot and even a comment to tell you about how the timing of the shot had been after executing the shot. Personally, I think these are great additions…in theory. But fails as a whole because you would end up becoming obsessed to hitting that perfect shot and start wondering what the hell went wrong when you hit anything less than perfect. Also, it’s fucking distracting when you are playing on the opposite court.
Yes. You can now play on the opposite court. This is a really important feature that I’m not entirely sure Top Spin 3 had. Case in point, when playing the game with four players, the two at the near court would have such a huge advantage over the players on the far end. Depth perception is a total bummer in all tennis games…but it is also what makes tennis games so fun to play, in my humble opinion.
Another thing that reeaaaaaallllly bugged the hell outta me is this irritating sound *tuk* sound made during option selection. Then again, it could be my lousy TV causing this though.
Phew, with all that is being said…now, lets look at the positives of the game.
I love this game. No, I fucking love this game.
The most immediate thing you’d notice (that is if you play a lot of Top Spin) is that the game is so much smoother now. Game loading is a fraction of what TS3 had been and the graphics… in the words of The Lonely Island, I jizzed in my pants.
Casual fans may not notice the little things, but hot damn…they have outdone themselves this time by capturing the little quirks of individual tennis players. Roger Federer’s stance is so uncanny to what he does in real life to Nadal’s way of holding his racquet when he waits for the ball to be served….mind-blowing.
There is even a triva box to tell you how long the rally was, and how long had it had been since I lost a point (Yes, I am awesome in normal mode) A huge kudos to the game developers on this. (That being said, how come they remove a simple action gesture like…bouncing the ball before serving, I cannot understand..but that’s the fanboy in me being paranoid about the game.)
Speaking of players, while the fantasy of getting to have every single famous player in one game remains as such, the game does boast of an impressive roster of Tennis legends such as Ivan Lendel, Boris “Boom Boom” Becker, Pete Sampras and not one, but TWO Andre Agassi (who’s my personal idol..all two of them)
The flamboyant Las Vegas Showman is in the game as the current baldie as well as the mullet haired luminous self. A big shame is that due to sponsorship issues, we won’t get to see his vintage Nike outfits (he currently dons Adidas)
And while we’re on the topic of outfits, being the Nike Slut as I am, I am sooooo amazed by the details of the players. Although I had only played two games, I was actually drooling over Federer’s 2009 US Open top which is so realistic in its details.
(And while we’re on the topic of details. Fuck Me sideways. They even had Nadal’s $427,000 Richard Mille in the game.)
But, the developers should really follow the way of PES/Winning 11 and include updates for player’s outfits. Now, THAT would really make the game really awesome.
IF you realise I’ve only been focusing on the asthetics of the game, it’s really because the gameplay may need further improvement in the AI department. At my first attempt at playing the game on Normal mode, my Agassi demolished Lendel with a white wash (6-0,6-0) on Clay (which I must say, looks even more awesome than its already impressive prequel)
My second game using Federer vs Sampras was much more interesting. While I am still playing at normal mode, Sampras clearly was way more aggressive than Lendel’s baseline tactics. I even lost a game. *gasp!*
I can’t wait to get back to playing more of the game right now, and the only reason why I even had time to type this lengthy review is only because I had to let my mum watch TV.
All in all, Top Spin 4 has retained the crown of the best tennis game out there in the market. I cannot wait to test it out with human players, where the gameplay would be completely different.
Who knows, I may even write out another review for this awesome game.
So, watch this space, folks.
My rating (if you still can’t tell) : 9 out of 10. Almost perfect.
(Note : I do not have the Playstation Move, so I would have zero idea what gameplay that would be possibly like)