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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 11:00 GMT
Top Spin game serves ace
By Mike Burnett

Top Spin
Format: Xbox
Price: 39.99
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: Tennis
The tennis season may be over but luckily the Xbox and Anna Kournikova have joined forces to keep us snug over winter.

The Russian beauty is one of the many stars you can play on Microsoft's new hyper-realistic game Top Spin.

In reality, Kournikova hasn't touched a racket in months (not that you'd notice), but in the virtual world you can take her on every day of the year.

With great graphics and engaging gameplay, Top Spin raises the bar on tennis simulations and gives Xbox owners plenty to brag about.

Such is the attention to detail - player animation, different surface dynamics and even the settings - it is easy to see why the game took two years to make.

That also explains why two of its biggest endorsers - Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis - have long since retired.

Top Spin has a variety of game modes - exhibition, career, custom championship, multi-player and Xbox Live, which allows you to take on gamers all over the world online.

In career mode, you create your own player, making them either the spitting image of yourself or as big and ugly as you like - complete with broken nose and dodgy mullet.

VERDICT
Lleyton Hewitt in Top Spin
Graphics: 85%
Playability: 92%
Sound: 81%
Realism: 90%
Overall: 90%

Starting at the bottom of the career ladder, your character has to work his/her way up the world rankings.

Along the way, you will need to win a few small tournaments, get sponsorship, improve your skills, and acquire some flashy tennis gear before taking on the big guns at the Grand Slam events.

Certainly, the basics of play are easy to pick up with the 'safe return shot' button proving very useful in the early stages of the game.

But as you get accustomed to the controls, you will soon be hitting lobs, drop shots, slices and, of course, applying top spin without a second thought.

While Top Spin provides plenty of thrills for the single player, one of its main selling points is the Xbox's much-touted 'Live' option.

Not only can you have four mates round your house for a bit of doubles action, but with Live you can, quite literally, take on the best in the world.

Just like real players, your character's performance in matches online will affect his/her ranking - making this one of the must-have games on the Xbox for gamers hooked up to the web.

Overall, it is hard to find fault with Top Spin. Apart from featuring a slightly dated roster of tennis stars, the only other drawback is the inability to play men against women - alas the Kournikova-Sampras clash will have to wait.

It seems Microsoft has served up a winner - game, set and match.






SEE ALSO
Spin when you're winning
03 Sep 03  |  Game Reviews


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