Top Spin 2 – Xbox 360 review
Tennis isn't the most exciting sport in the world. Although over the years, the sport has been very well represented on games consoles. The two market leaders have always been Virtua Tennis and Top Spin with Top Spin being the more intricate title. If you are used to playing Virtua Tennis then you will find Top Spin to be a far more technical affair.
Top Spin was available on the PS2 but only as a nasty port. Top Spin 2 offers everything that was available in the original Top Spin but the game-play, graphics and sound are all much better than before.
On the Xbox 360 controller the four coloured buttons correspond with the four basic shots; Swing, Slice, Lob and Topspin. Beyond these four shots there are another eight shot types available in conjunction with your momentum meter. The Momentum meter level ebbs and flows as points are won and lost in each game, the better you play the more momentum you gain. With a decent amount of momentum behind you your player can perform much better shots – your player can either play a risk shot or an advanced shot and the quality of these shots is gauged via your momentum meter. To use an advanced or risk shot you need to hold down the left or right shoulder button, respectively, before playing the shot.
There is a mode of play for everyone. You can jump straight into either an exhibition or tournament game although if you are new to Top Spin you'll get slaughtered. The best way to learn the ropes is through the career mode. When starting your career you get to customize your players look, the detail available here is excellent and EA's game-face mechanic is under some stiff competition. Once your Adonis is created it's time to get playing.
Over the course of your career your aim is to build up your player's skills, increase their rank and make as much dosh as possible. At first you need to get some training under your belt. Time advances in career mode in one week intervals within a week you can fit in a training event, one tournament event, and one special event.
Training in Top Spin 2 is great although each training session costs money. So at some point you will need to start entering competitions or you will run out of money but that said, the training is inventive and fun – so put your time in and you'll benefit in the competitions. Your career will see you play in all kinds of venues to all sizes of audience. Just like in reality you start off in tiny sports centers.
Graphically Top Spin 2 is a triumph. There's lots of depth of field, great detail on the players and arenas plus when viewed on a HD TV the lighting and shading really come to life. In a game like tennis that is almost a fixed camera view the realism needs to be there, to pull you into the experience.
Sounds are also very accomplished. Sound-wise this game is all about realism. The player grunts, squeaky trainers on the indoor courts and crowd noise all help to build up a believable sensory atmosphere. You can also get the standard Hip-Hop and Metal tunes to play along to.
Overall I think Top Spin 2 on the Xbox 360 is a new standard in tennis titles. For any lover of the sport Top Spin 2 offers a hyper-realistic rendering of each match and of your players emerging career. The controls respond well and the game-play is enough of a challenge to keep you coming back for more and more.
8 out of 10