One must think of the Outlaw series of games (Outlaw Volleyball, Outlaw Golf and now Tennis) as a Dean Martin Roast of the actual sport it’s based on. It’s not meant to be taken seriously but at it’s core there is some love for the subject matter. Generally the Outlaw series has strived to appeal to gamers who wouldn’t go out of their way to play a real sports game and therefore found its niche audience somewhere between Tony Hawk Underground and Mortal Kombat. Outlaw Tennis continues the onslaught of madcap violence and sexy antics while holding court – tennis court that is – and the end result is a mixed bag. It’s not as refined nor as fresh as the previous games in the series, but it’s okay for a few larfs. However if you’re looking for a quality quirky tennis game, Mario Power Tennis should still be your first choice, with Top Spin ranking as the current “real” tennis benchmark to beat.
The number of modes in Outlaw Tennis is certainly welcome, although it’s the hefty Tour mode that most players will find themselves taking part in. Tour mode is the meat and potatoes career mode in the game and each character has their own Tour to take part in. As you advance, other characters and tours will become unlocked, therefore ramping up the overall play value. Three difficulty modes are available as well and I’d advise at starting at the lowest simply due to some suspect AI advantages that your character won’t have the benefit of falling back on.
There are seven funky match modes which contains your classic array of ridiculous game modes such as Casino or Hot Potato (exploding tennis balls anyone?) that will entertain for a while but ultimately most players will find themselves staying within the realm of Tour mode. Outlaw Tennis also allows singles, doubles and even Canadian Tennis which is two players against one. Drill mode also features an assortment of skill based minigames which will result in points earned that can be spread between various skill-enhancing attributes such as speed, endurance, accuracy, power, and control. I didn’t find that taking part in these games of skill had any effect on my overall abilities, even when I divied up the points I earned and placed them into the selected skills, but it did pass the time and gave me something else do to for awhile. Perhaps that was the whole point.
There is a lot to like about the game, which includes 16 characters, dynamic weather (rain, snow, foggy and of course, sunny!) and nine different surfaces to play on. The sheer amount of things to do is staggering and you’ll definitely feel as though you’ve received your moneys worth thanks to the games budget price of $19.99.
You’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to the “Outlaw” portion of the game. Well, let’s jump right in, shall we? The outlaw games have always prided themselves on the wicked interaction between opponents or teammates. Feel like beating the crap out of the competition? Want to piledrive your partner for missing a shot? Go for it. I’m no dummy, and I think it’s fair to assume that most players will get off on the more adult catfights of the female characters rather than watching the dudes go at it. I’m not sure why Hypnotix even includes dudes in this series in the first place. I found the outlaw portion of Outlaw Tennis to be tacked on, almost as if Hypnotix were getting to that point where they were hoping to leave that calling card out and willing to take the game into more respectable territory.
With some tweaks in terms of control, Outlaw Tennis could have been a contender, but there are a few control inadequacies that need to be addressed first. First and foremost, OT suffers from button lag. In a game that relies solely upon reflexes, even a split second between button press and execution is an unwanted hindrance. Having spent numerous hours of my life playing Top Spin and even Mario Power Tennis, I can tell you that Outlaw Tennis is the blacksheep in terms of control. Sometimes the game just doesn’t respond or when it does, it seems to get crosswired and does something you didn’t intend it to do. The four button setup (6 if you include the shoulder buttons) is easy enough to master, but some might find the control too “buttony” for their tastes.
When you’re talking about an Outlaw game in terms of visuals, you’re mostly talking about how hot the chicks look. No one cares about the backgrounds; it’s all about the chicks. Not a lot has changed in terms of animation (aside from the obvious choice of using tennis animations instead of say, golf or volleyball animations from previous games) and the characters look as though they were pretty much yanked from one engine and put in this one. The soundtrack is easily disnengaged if you have an Xbox thanks to the Custom Soundtrack support, but PS2 owners will have to make do. Commentary provided by The Daily Show’s Stephen Colbert is quite a welcome friend. He has the perfect dry, smart ass delivery and some great lines. The only other actor I could see out doing him is perhaps Bruce Campbell who would be perfect for this series. Mind you, Dave Atell did a decent job in Outlaw Golf 2.Character voices are hit and miss. The voices are at the most well-suited to the stereotypes they are portraying onscreen and at the least completely lacking in humor. But you can’t have everything.
What you’ve got here is a cheaply priced tennis game that is packed with cheap laughs and cheap thrills. Considering Outlaw Tennis is jampacked with modes and options, it would be pretty hard ass of me not to recommend a go around, especially for those who enjoy and understand what the series has to offer in the first place. Those looking for Top Spin 2 should not apply. At this point though, the antics of the Outlaw crew are pretty tired and I’m hoping that Hypnotix will drop the shtick and take the plunge into making more credible gameplay experiences. They definitely have the talent and like those comedians who eventually grow out of the goofy roles and start winning Oscars for their abilities, Hypnotix has paid their dues and it’s time for them to take it up a notch.
Look out the gang from the Outlaw series are about to put their own spin on the game of tennis. It looks like the game will never be the same again! Fans of Outlaw Golf where surprised when they found out that the series was expanding to Volleyball. The result was the same humor and over-the-top action however; just like the golf games the game had a solid game engine. It was a great Volleyball game. Now can Hypnotix do the same with the sport of tennis? I think so and just like the last Outlaw Golf game this one will be online and priced at $19.99.
Take a look at the screen shots and you may notice a new character. Of course Summer, Suave, Trixie and the rest of the gang are all going to be back in this one. While I don’t know who the new character is going to be I am sure Hypnotix has something a little special to add to the game. Of course the game will also feature the “Outlaw Style” of fighting and game play fans of the series have come to expect. The game will also feature an online mode and allow for custom soundtracks.
I wanted to be able to tell you who would be the announcer and play-by-play person. However, the last preview I wrote for the series I was wrong and they changed it to Dave Attel. While Dave did a decent job I am hoping for another well-known comedian who is also well known on Comedy Central and was scheduled for the last game. If I can find out before the game is released I will update the preview. So while I can’t tell you everything the game is going to hit both the Xbox and PS2 around May. Here is the new screenshots and a list of features. It certainly looks like the game of tennis will never be the same again!
- 16 playable characters -15 regular characters, 1 surprise character
o Customizable outfits per character (Mix and match tops, bottoms, shoes)
o Customizable Accessories
o 6 improvable attributes
- 12 courts – 10 regular unlockable courts, 1 drill court, 1 surprise court
- Dynamic Weather – patterns include sunshine, rain (thunder & lightning), snow and fog.
- Multiple Surface Types – Including Concrete, Black Top, Hard Polished Wood, Indoor Carpet Marble, Clay, Dirt, Natural Grass and Snow.
- 6 Game Modes
o Tour (50 Tour Matches – Singles, Doubles & Canadian Doubles mixed)
o Random Play
o Network Play
- 3 Match Types
o Singles Match
o Doubles Match
o Canadian Tennis (doubles vs. single player)
- 7 Match Modes including : Classic Tennis, Hot Potato, Casino, Baseball, Football Rules, Cash Zones, and Ping-Pong.
- Multiple Shot and Serve Types
- Momentum- The amount of momentum you have in the game determines how quickly a players Turbo Meter regenerates. Turbo Power allows players to use their Turbo Run, Turbo Serves, Turbo Shots and Signature Shots. Each player has a momentum meter that is prominently displayed in the top corners of the screen. Momentum decreases with every volley that is lost and increases with every volley won. It also regenerates over time so that players that are losing badly still have a chance of staying in the game.
- Sound Tracks- Outlaw Tennis comes with an existing catalog of songs and allows for custom soundtracks
- Online Play: Play online with up to 4 friends and play in tournaments with Xbox live.