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Top Spin 3 Review

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Developer: 2K Sports Publisher: 2K Sports
Release Date: June 24, 2008 Also On: PS3 and Xbox 360

Top Spin 3 is the first in the franchise since the Xbox 360 launched back in 2005. Being released across Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and Nintendo DS, the version that I am reviewing is of the next-generation PS3/Xbox 360. Wii is not significantly different, except for the Wii motion controls and the downgraded graphics. That being said, does Top Spin 3 live up to the high expectations that we expect from this respected tennis franchise? Read on to find out.

“We kind of went back to the drawing board in terms of the gameplay,” said producer Anthony DeLuca on a conference call that I took before the game released. However, Top Spin 3 remains a tennis simulation with licensed players and venues. The next-gen versions (PS3 and 360) focus on visuals with more player animations, life-like graphics and such, while the Wii version is all about family-friendly control, party games and mini-games.

The career mode will have you start off as an amateur tennis player, “playing in jean shorts”. As you advance, you will play in more prestigious events. When you finally start playing the pros, you will be competing in the French Open and other elite events. 2K Sports had to negotiate with players and their agents to get them on board. While they had a wish list of players, most of the major names seem to be signed up for the game.

All of this is pretty standard in any sports game today. The so-called rags to riches is nothing new, but it still works just fine. You actually create your own player using a relatively detailed process similar to EA’s Tiger Woods player creator. Once you create your player and hit the courts, you will begin to rack up experience points. You can use these to improve the attributes of your player. So to that extent you can make the player exactly the way you want. If you would like a player who has a powerful forearm and serve, but weak backhand, you can do that.

It comes as no surprise that Top Spin 3 is online for both the next-gen versions, while Wii will not be. Players will be matched according to their skill. As many as four players can play at once, in a game of doubles, but only between two consoles. This serves as a considerable advantage to the game’s replay value which might otherwise suffer since you may get bored playing alone. In this sense, tennis has come a long way since Virtua Tennis on the Dreamcast.

Two of the big downsides I found in the game are the long load times and the difficulty of the computer AI. On average you will spend a good fifteen seconds waiting for the game at the start and end of each match (the game has an autosave feature which causes the delay after the game). As far as the difficulty goes, I normally don’t complain about something like this, but I found it to be exceedingly hard to play on the Normal difficulty. This can’t be said for most games and should be pointed out in case you are not experienced with Top Spin. That being said, there are a number of tutorials that you can go through to improve your skills if you are not sure how exactly to make the most of your potential.

Some of the best graphics in sports video games can be found in Top Spin 3. Whether it is player models, facial expressions, body movements or clothing swaying, this game looks great. It feels great, too, as the controls are just as realistic as the graphics. As far as the sound goes, there are some licensed tunes for the menus, the crowd stays involved throughout the matches and the ball sounds add to the realism.

Hardcore tennis fans will fall in love with Top Spin 3. It has everything you want in a tennis game, from a player creator to online play and a long career mode. The graphics look fantastic, the controls are tight and responsive, the player roster is familiar and there aren’t annoying announcers. On the other hand, the load times are long and the difficulty is steep. In other words, everything you want in a tennis simulation. Consider it a warning. This game is not for casual players.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.9
Written by Kyle Review Guide