Everyone needs a rival. Where would Federer be without Nadal? Would Venus Williams be as motivated if it wasn’t for Sharapova? Where would Scud be if it wasn’t for The Bachelor?
Sega’s Virtua Tennis 3 has proved just the competition that 2K Sports needed to raise its game. Top Spin 3 has a completely different visual style, but it aims to achieve a similar level of simplicity in its control scheme, making it beautifully accessible for everyone.
Gone are the original game’s risk shots as are the attitude moves and power bars. In fact, you won’t ever see a power bar or skill indicator in Top Spin 3. With the HUD entirely expelled, the on-court action looks as gorgeous as it does uncluttered.
The developer has tried to remove all the things that made the previous games a bit fiddly, while holding onto the elements the hardcore fans most loved. The new Career mode follows a similar progression to the original game, making you start out as a complete amateur. After working through local competitions and junior matches, you’ll progress to ranked matches and finally major events.
There’s a tonne of matches to play before you get to face the big names, and then your skills should have progressed to the level where you’ll be able to beat them. In the early competitions, it’s all about beating the fictional players, who were all made using the Create-A-Player mode. Brilliantly, the made-up rookies look every bit as detailed as the 25 real players in the game.
The fans also wanted a return to the scheduled tournament format from Top Spin 2. Your career takes place like a calendar, with each real-life event taking place at the correct times of year. Tournament play goes beyond the Career mode too, with a new option to play short-season competitions on Xbox Live. Each online tournament lasts for two weeks at a time, and you can play your matches at any time you like. Lose your match, however, and you’re out until the next season begins.
If that sounds a little harsh, you’ll be relieved to hear that it’s possible to enter multiple tournaments at once, and also compete in non-ranked singles and doubles matches whenever you want.
Tennis is such a straightforward game that it makes perfect sense for 2K Sports to make its series more accessible. If you can resist dismissing this as a ‘dumbing down’, then you’ll come to realise that it has just made the Top Spin formula even more addictive.
SEGA Superstar Tennis.