Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
PAM Top Spin 3
A challenging tennis game
- Realistic game-play, plenty of pros, looks great
- Steep learning curve, no music during games, player-creation needs work
People who only like arcade style sports games will probably not go for this one. On the other hand, if you're looking for a challenging, deep tennis game, then you should check out Top Spin 3.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
While some tennis games delve further and further into the realm of arcade wackiness, the Top Spin series has always placed the emphasis on a more realistic experience. Positioning, momentum, and timing are all things you'll need to master before you can even become competitive.
First things first: the controls can be tricky, but don't give up. It can be a little difficult to get the hang of serving, shooting and effectively moving around the court. Unlike many other tennis games, Top Spin 3 places heavy emphasis on timing and position. In other words, this is not a game where you can get away with randomly pressing a button in the general vicinity of the ball. You need to be aware of where the ball is going to end up before beginning your back swing. Once in position, releasing your swing at the right moment gives you a solid return to the other side of the net. Release too late or too early and your ball won't make it or will be lobbed over for your opponent to smash directly back to you. This is definitely not a game where the tutorial is optional. Once you get a feel for the mechanics of playing, the actual game can be a lot of fun. There are plenty of types of shots and each one takes time to master. Top Spin 3 has scaled back on meters and gauges; only using one to keep track of your heart rate. When it gets too high, your stamina can be affected. This along with the difficulty if hitting a solid shot can make things pretty hectic. You AI opponents don't seem to be affected by these issues, so every shot counts.
The player-creation mode is decent but not great. Those gamers who have mastered the art of rendering their likeness onto the small screen may have a difficult time here. There are plenty of options from facial hair to tattoos, but the actual tools for creating a player are aren't intuitive. And who wants to spend an hour perfecting their tennis player? Well, some will, but I imagine most gamers won't. Career Mode lets you work at the finer point of the game against three opponents, all of who must be defeated before entering the professional realm. Once there, you begin as a Challenger and work your way up to Legend. As you win matches, you gain experience points as well as the ability to improve your skills and purchase new merchandise. You'll need all the skills you can muster, because Top Spin 3 has an impressive lineup of tennis pros to play against. Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Bjorn Berg and Monica Sales are just a few of the more than 40 players who appear in this game. There are also more than 40 courts to choose from, each one unique to its own location.
Top Spin 3 looks great. Player animations are fluid and courts look realistic and full of detail. There's some great music playing while you are working your way through the menus, but actual game-play is stripped down to the pop of the ball, the squeaks of sneakers on the court and sounds of spectators in between the action. While this is realistic, I kept hoping for some of that great music during the game just to liven things up a bit.
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