Top Spin 4 Review
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2K Czech serves up an ace with Top Spin 4 through authentic gameplay and animations, plus a new streamlined approach throughout the entire game.
- Authentic and accessible gameplay
- Deep career and online modes
- Move is quite fun (but not perfect)
- Lack of variety and subtlety in court surfaces
- Dull music and some character replication issues
Out of every possible use of the PlayStation Move, a tennis game makes the most sense to me. Sure, using the precise controller as a sword or a gun is cool, but slapping a ball around a virtual court with Move seems like something everyone can enjoy. Luckily for me, Top Spin 4 is the solid motion-controlled tennis game I’ve been looking for. No, it’s not perfect, but Top Spin 4 plus Move offers plenty of enjoyment, even for the non-tennis fan.
2K Sports has continually offered a realistic tennis experience in its Top Spin series. Just about every issue from Top Spin 3 has been ironed out and the streamlined approach to the fourth installment makes it accessible, easy to learn, and fun for all ability levels. Even with some simplification in the basic gameplay, veteran players and tennis fans will find quite a bit of depth — the biggest highlight for this crowd of enthusiasts is the authenticity of actual tennis shots. The improved animation system gives real life tennis players their true-to-life play styles and reactions. Top Spin 4 packs quite a punch for tennis fans, but even if you don’t know an Agassi from a Nadal, it’s still a blast to play a few matches.
The addition of Move support to Top Spin 4 is one of the biggest selling points for PlayStation 3 owners. When I first gave it a try I was impressed at how accurately the Move controller matched my desired swing speed and direction. I play tennis in real life; actually, I played tennis in real life. It’s been several years since I put any real time into the sport, but I was pretty good at it when I was a teenager. Needless to say, I had high expectations of how the game should react to my racket’s (Move controller’s) position, how hard I swung, and the placement of my wrist. Despite a few odd issues with the controller not properly recognizing a backhand versus a forehand, the Move controller does a great job of recognizing all those intricate movements of a Sunday-afternoon tennis player.
There is a bit of a delay, but once you recognize this issue, it’s easy to work around it. Again, it’s not completely perfect, but it sure beats anything on the Wii for authenticity and enjoyment. It’s quite a workout, too, and not just because you physically have to swing harder to get powerful shots. You control your tennis avatar with a navigation controller, or standard controller’s left analog stick. Once you get your player in perfect position, you then use the same controller function (the analog stick) to place your shot. This is all a bit much to get used to for people who aren’t used to gaming, say your girlfriend or uncle.
Top Spin 4 does not require Move, of course, and the game is still a lot of fun to play on a standard controller. Shots are again mapped to the face buttons (top spin, lob, slice, and flat) and how long you hold down the buttons will determine shot strength. If you want to send a fast top spin shot to the right back court, you would hold down the circle button until the on-screen gauge fills up (represented by a line that eventually draws a complete circle next to your character). You’ll also have to aim your shot with the analog stick, just as you would when using Move.
The trickiest part of the actual gameplay is timing — true of the actual sport, too. Getting the most out of your shots requires you to make contact with the ball at just the right time. 2K Czech set up a system to let you know if your timing is off. The game wants you to let go of the shot button just before your character swings. If done correctly, an ... (continued on next page)
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