Tennis…??? In MY PS3…?
If you used to own the Sega Dreamcast, you’d be a liar to deny that one of the top 5 games for the system was Virtua Tennis:
I loved Virtua Tennis, it was probably the best sports game of that generation of systems. Then for some reason, I never bought another tennis game until last week, when I purchased Top Spin 4. Were Top Spins 1 through 3 good? No idea… Probably…? I skipped right to 4 (which came out a week ago).
And it rules.
(For the record, the cover of this game says this is both 3D compatible and Playstation Move compatible. I would love to play this game in 3D with a Move, but I don’t own either of those things. This review is based off playing with a regular controller like a normal person.)
You know what I like about Top Spin 4? It’s fun AND challenging. I’m playing on Hard difficulty (there’s still 3 levels of difficulty above that), and while I dominate sometimes against lesser opponents, when I play one of the top ranked dudes, they either put up an epic fight, or beat me. I LIKE the fact that I lose matches. Wait, let me rephrase:
I like the fact that I lose matches, and it’s not due entirely to the computer being fucking cheap. When I get beat on a point, and lose a game, I feel like the other guy actually out-smarted and bested me. Never do I feel like errors are forced on me by cheapness. You know why? This game isn’t made by EA Sports. FUCK EA Sports, and the last Madden installment was one of the worst games ever created. Fumbled on 3 plays in a row? The other team’s 3rd string running back broke 4 open field tackles and got an 80 yard touchdown, when I’m already down by 28 in the 4th quarter? Yeah, that’s Madden 2011…
But back to Top Spin 4. The game play is really good. At first I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing, and was hitting the ball terribly and getting rocked, then I took a tutorial and found out you’re supposed to input your swing right before you hit the ball. That sounds stupid, but it works when you’re actually doing it. Feels pretty natural. You build up power and choose direction when the ball is flying your way, and then you release one of 3 different stroke buttons a split second before the ball is in swinging distance. Once you get the hang of it (pretty quickly) you’re happy it’s the way it is.
Since those bastards at Comcast haven’t sent me my new router that I ordered 2 weeks ago, I haven’t been able to take my PS3 online in a while, so I’ve just been going through Career Mode. It starts out pretty tedious, you have to play a bunch of schmucks that aren’t that hard to beat in the minor tournaments, but it’s good a good way to practice the perfect swinging technique.
Also, career mode offers a good character creator, giving a surprisingly decent collection of shitty styles of clothes and facial hair, so I can make a player that at least resembles my shitty clothes and facial hair.
In career mode, you basically get points for winning and doing good shit, and you can spend those points on attributes in a few different categories (defensive play, net play, ect). But you can only advance 20 levels before your character stays set at whichever attribute path you’ve chosen to go down. Which is kind of a drawback, so pick wisely. But coaches (which you can hire) can also boost your stats after you hit your level cap by meeting specific objectives set by each individual coach.
A season lasts a year of time, and you get points for doing good or bad in tournaments. Each month you get a training event, and then get to play in one tournament (you get to pick from several). At first, you’ll have to tediously play practice games you don’t want to to get XP points, but after a few months you start getting offers for instant XP events, like attending a Spa weekend or some shit, which is nice if you just want to cut the shit and play tournaments.
Obviously you can’t play good tournaments right away, but once you get to the level where you can play Grand Slam tournaments, it gets epic. Matches can go on for 30-40 minutes. And you have to win like 6 matches to win a Grand Slam (you can save in between matches). Real edge of your seat shit, though. Again, the harder CPU players really put up a fight, and offer some thrilling fun. I’ve played in 3 Grand Slam tournaments, and I’ve lost them all. I haven’t even made the finals yet. I love the challenge, and it gives me something to look forward to. GIVES ME SOME DRIVE. And I’m not even on the hardest difficulty yet…
I’ve basically been playing this game a little to a lot every day since I got it last week (including an epic all night drunken full season marathon that ended around 5 AM Saturday morning), and I’m still having fun with it. I really wish Comcast weren’t such dickmunchers, so I can finally take my tennis game online, and start to school some 12 year olds in Top Spin 4. Or get schooled. Either way, this game is fun as hell.
9 out of 10