|System: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii|
|Dev: 2K Czech|
|Pub: 2K Sports|
|Release: March 15, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
The sound and music are good and bad, respectively. All the effects, from the squeaky shoes to the grunts of the players to the building anxiety of the audience during an extended rally, are perfect, and paired with the graphics, Top Spin 4 is as close to reality as a tennis game can get. Care was even taken to match audience cheers with venues. When playing against Andy Murray in the U.K., expect an onslaught of "c'mon Andy," or "go Rafa" when battling Nadal in Barcelona. The music tracks on the other hand are a poor selection of indie pop and rock, which seems more appropriate for a Tony Hawk or X Games game. Considering the vast etiquette of tennis and the simulation goal of 2K Sports, a more subdued playlist would have been better suited. A tall order, I guess.
My biggest disappointment was the motion controls. Incorporating the Move and Wii motion sensing into the game seemed like an afterthought, which may very well be the case. The defensive stance that it's too difficult to simulate tennis with motion controls is a cop out, since Sega is doing just that with Virtua Tennis 4. After testing the motion controls, the animations are still set, with your swing movements simply triggering them. The game doesn't even use Wii MotionPlus, which quite frankly should be the standard for all future Wii game development. And no Kinect support! I guess it stands to see how the future of motion gaming on all systems develops, but this was definitely a missed opportunity for 2K.
Despite my obvious displeasure with the poor motion controls, the classic style on the controller still does a fantastic job of keeping your fingers moving with a variety of shot combinations, from flat shots, slice shots, lobs, and of course, top spins. If you're looking for online features, you can play ranked and unranked matches, check the leaderboard, and bring your player to the World Tour mode, where you compete in quick matches and several tournaments, vying for that coveted #1 spot.
Tennis by nature is a simple translation to video games; some would even call any tennis game a glorified Pong. Simulation-style tennis games have an even tougher time holding an audience by not incorporating off-the-wall dynamics and impossible super shots. But by heightening the depth of the experience with gorgeous visuals and many small touches, Top Spin 4 delivers the most realistic tennis game to date, and one that easily appeals to purists of the sport. Hopefully 2K Sports will embrace the idea of motion control for their next game and redefine the meaning of simulation.
CCC Freelance Writer