Top Spin 2 ReviewCain Dornan
Lleyton Hewitt, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Venus Williams star in Pams latest tennis title, Top Spin 2 for the Xbox 360. While this latest title doesnt introduce any remarkably new features into the mix, the quality and impressive execution of what is on offer combines to form one of the best tennis games ever created. The level of quality and pleasing combination of accurate simulation and arcade fun allows it to be appreciated by true fans of the support, yet all the while remaining accessible for those who are looking for a quick stint of fun.
The heart of the game remains within the quick-access Exhibition mode, which is a perfect choice for those who are looking for some multiplayer action or a quick round of single player fun. The mode offers both singles and doubles events, of which you can choose your player from a healthy roster of the worlds best tennis players, and then select from a collection of world-famous locations to play in.
For those looking for more depth within a single player world, the Career mode allows you to create your very own custom character from a wealth of different options. You can choose everything from your players gender through to the colour of their skin, the shape of their face, their hair style and colour, their personality and attitude whilst on-court, specific talents and various other options. Given the highly detailed character models that the game offers, there are literally hundreds of thousands worth of different character creations that you can come up with, giving it one of the best custom design character modes currently seen in a sports game.
Once youve finished creating your own character, you are pit straight into the games career management interface, which allows you to choose everything from your sponsor (which will be limited during the initial stages of the game), your coach, view any messages that you currently have in your inbox or choose to participate in an event or do some training. The games world is presented in a calendar month formation, where a specific event is available to be entered for each month that you are in. Likewise, you can complete a few training exercises during that month, before it ticks over into the following one which opens up further events to take part in. That is, if you have built up the skill and world ranking to satisfy the restrictions that are placed on entering most events. For the first few months of your career, youll find that you will be unable to enter any of the competitions on hand, until you build your skill and renown by completing some training tasks first.
In similar fashion to the career mode is the Tournament mode, which allows you to set up your own custom-made tournament that can be played in both single and multiplayer modes.
Outside of the more serious modes are a handful of party games, which is a collection of lighthearted simple games. Time Bomb, for example, sees the tennis ball turning into an explosive bomb. Each player has a total of 30 seconds in which their bomb can tick down for, which is detonated when your opponent has scored against you. To stop your clock from ticking down until it explodes, you need to score against your component, which sees your countdown timer pausing whilst theirs starts. Another party game is the Wall Breaker, which has both an offensive and defensive player. The offensive player needs to hit the tennis ball past their opponent with enough force to knock down a wall that is made of lightly coloured bricks, while the defender is tasked with preventing the attacker from doing so. The two different roles alternate after the offensive player has reached their serve limit. The third and last of the party games available is the Splash Court, which has the tennis ball leaving marks on the court each time it bounces. The aim is to get more paint on your opponents court then yours before the time runs out.
For those seeking some competition outside of the games computer controlled character or against some of your mates, Top Spin 2 also offers a full online mode. Like most other games available on the Xbox 360, the game offers both ranked and unranked matches. No doubt youll find your fair share of tough competition online, with both the singles and doubles events proving to be worthy of some great online competition as you are matched up against some skilled virtual tennis players from around the world. Unfortunately, the online component suffers from common slowdowns and overall lag, with the fluidity of what is seen during the local events within your console running noticeably superior to online events. First-time players of the online component will likely be frustrated by the noticeable lag that slows down the speed of the game. It doesnt subtract from the online experience heavily, as it is quite easy to become accustomed to the lag after playing only a few rounds online. Nevertheless, it is slightly disappointing to see such a polished and well presented game falling short with its online offering.
Top Spin 2s presentation shines in almost every form imaginable. The highly detailed character models look simply amazing, almost looking lifelike as they run around the court. Furthermore, the games environment and court design is just as impressive, offering highly detailed terrain, structures and impressively detailed crowds to create a really immersive and realistic atmosphere. In many cases, when played on a high definition television, the game looks almost like a real-life game whilst in motion, with the great sound effects and crystal clear graphics combining to provide a pleaser in all cases.
Managing to combine both accurate simulation with the ease and accessibility of arcade fun is a commendable feat in a sports game, and Top Spin 2 has managed to do just that. This game really is impressive on all levels, one that die-hard fans of the sport and those only remotely interested in the competitive sport will likely be pleased in. While there are some slow down issues with the games online component, there really isnt much to complain about with this latest effort.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.