The Xbox has seen its fair share of top notch titles, but most of these games that have been successful have also had quite a bit of hype surrounding them. Top Spin is one of those games that haven’t had a whole lot of hype surrounding it, but now that it is out you wonder why we didn’t hear more about this one.
The sport of tennis (although loved by me) has never been an over popular sport, more known for being a "prep" sport, it has never been in the mainstream media like football, baseball, and basketball. With that being said that doesn’t mean there can’t be a tennis game. The tennis genre has actually been a fun one, with Virtua Tennis for the Dreamcast and later on for the PS2 it really set the standards for what tennis games should be like. Now Microsoft and Power and Magic have teamed up to try and create a tennis game that will overthrow the current best (Virtua Tennis), and without a doubt Top Spin ends up doing so in amazing fashion.
Top Spin tennis has a few different modes, which includes Exhibition, Career, Multiplayer, and Tennis School. The tennis school is just a very basic tutorial of the games controls and shows all the different shot variations that you can use. This is actually a worthwhile tutorial because for those people who don’t know much about the sport of tennis, you will figure out at least the basics behind the sport.
When you start the game you are immediately allowed to create your own character. This is surprisingly not apparent in most tennis titles, but is finally found in Top Spin, and they did a really nice job with it. You are given tons of different options on how to customize your character. Once you have created your player you are then able to take him into the Career Mode.
One of my only issues with Top Spin is the career mode, which in fact ends up being too short. You start the mode at the bottom playing on schoolyard tennis courts just trying to make it ahead. During this time you can work on gaining points onto your different shots. The basis behind the mode is quite simply to make it to the top of the ranks and win all of the major grand slam events. These matches get increasingly more and more difficult but once you have gotten through a good portion of the career mode the computer gets somewhat predictable and ends up making the career mode a bit shorter then it was meant to be. One of the interesting additions to the career mode that I enjoyed was the sponsorship idea, where you get a sponsor and have to complete tasks in order to get more gear.
By far the best addition the Top Spin tennis is the Xbox Live support, which really sets Top Spin tennis apart from all the other tennis titles. With the Xbox Live support you can take your created character online and compete against people from around the world. This is by far the most fun I have had on the Xbox Live service to date. Everything just runs very smoothly online, and thus far the competition has been very solid. There are a lot of things they can do with Top Spin and the Live service and I just hope we get some good tournaments in place for the game.
So I have told you about the game modes but the biggest question in your mind is probably how the game plays out, and in fact this is where Top Spin passes with flying colors. The game does feel a lot like Virtua Tennis and you can see a lot has been borrowed from the title, but there have also been some things changed/added to give Top Spin its own unique feel. The face buttons are used for the four different shots you can pull off. The trigger buttons are basically "special" buttons which basically has a power bar come up and you need to hit the middle point to pull off a perfect shot. This system starts out kind of difficult but once you get the hang of it, it is quite rewarding and ends up being a necessity later on in the game. The game controls are extremely well and there really are no complaints on the gameplay. Everything really feels smooth and polished and it really does seem like Power and Magic knew what they were doing when creating this tennis title.
Virtua Tennis was really a great looking game; it was really hard trying to find things wrong with that title. So when Power and Magic were creating Top Spin they had to once again deal with the high standards that the Virtua Tennis series had set.
The character models of Top Spin aren’t overly detailed, but they are so crisp and so clean that is hard to really say anything negative about them. The character models of Top Spin really show a lot of evidence that there had been a lot of effort put towards the character models. One of the most evident features of the character models was the exquisite work done to the hair, which when long really moves quite gracefully.
Another big plus for Top Spin is the animation that takes place on court. Everything in Top Spin moves so very graceful that it looks quite real. This is very evident when you come to the clay court matches where sliding around the court is a necessity. The game represents everything quite well and there is really nothing to complain about when it comes to Top Spins graphics they are some of the best the Xbox has to offer.
Top Spin tennis has to be my new favorite game for the Xbox, and there are several reasons for this. The first is that Top Spin has basically unlimited replay value and the game never gets old. One of the biggest reasons for this is the multiplayer portion of the game is great to play with 2-4 players or Via Xbox Live. You can even play doubles online, which is actually quite fun when you get good games going. Top Spin is one of those games that just is constantly fun and for that I don’t have any complaints.
Top Spin is by far the best tennis game of all time. The one thing that could use improvement for a hopeful sequel next year is a longer career mode. Besides that, Top Spin tennis is perfect. If you are in need of a tennis game or even a game to get use out of your Live subscription, Top Spin is a perfect game for just that.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.