If you loved 'Virtua Tennis 3' (which is arcadey & user friendly), you probably find this game frustrating. However if you're a huge tennis fan, you'll love this game (as it's pretty darn addictive) but kinda disappointed that the player roster is pretty poor.
1) Graphics - it's quite stunning, crowds look lifelike (& so does the players), there's also a nice touch of detail such as players gets dirty (especially they play on clay), sweat are sometimes visible, even the weather condition changes (like from sunny to cloudy) throughout the match. Obviously rain are excluded from the game, how annoying would it be if it starts chucking it down when you're serving for the match?
What I enjoyed the most is playing on clay, where the players slide around on the court to reach for the ball.
2) Career mode - it's much more realistic than 'Virtua Tennis 3', as you start from being a nobody & build up to becoming a pro. Each time you win a match, points & experience will be unlocked for you to upgrade your player. However you only have a total of 320 experience points up upgrade you're created player's stats. So you can't surpass lvl 70. I think the reason behind this is that you can't top pro tennis stars, such as Federer (lvl 75) or Sharapova (lvl 74). Plus unlike 'Virtua Tennis 3' or 'Smash Court', you can set what difficulty lvl you want to play the whole campaign as (if you find it too easy, you can change the setting there & then to your preferred difficulty).
3) Player condition - I dunno, but I love the idea seeing besides the player's name that you'll see their heart rating (this is affected when playing in long rallies or chasing after the ball back & forth), this also affects the players current performance. This gives you a sense of realism.
4) Music/sound - unlike 'Virtua Tennis 3', music doesn't play during the match (again, giving a sense of realism). The game has a great (small) selection of songs, the downside is that the more you play the game, you tend to grow tired of certain songs & you can't switch it off (unless you mute your TV) & whenever you enter/exit a menu, the song changes (it becomes irritating). The crowd reacts to some major events, but sometimes they scream over nothing. I like the touch of fans cheering you on, quite subtle though.
5) Brands - not sure about you, but nothing looks better without official brand of clothing or equipments for your created players. The mall includes a Nike store, Adidas, Yonex, & in the global stores has another other common brands like Lotto & Fila.
6) Courts - even though Wimbledon is missing, every other court (believe me, there are LOADS - about 40) looks stunning, even though some courts are located near dirty streets. Each court carries different advantages & disadvantages, which is a nice touch by the developers e.g. on hard courts, the ball bounces more quicker than on grass, which tends to bounce higher & drops slower.
1) Player roster - to me, it seems like majority of tennis games are sexist, why? Why does every tennis game only include less than 10 female stars while more than 10 for the male stars? I thought 'Virtua Tennis 3' was bad with only 7 female players, but 'Top Spin 3' beat that record, with 5 (I'm excluding legendary player Seles & recently retired Justin Henin). If you look at the list of playable characters from exhibition mode, it doesn't look that bad, as you have more than 40 characters to choose from, but the problem lies in the 20+ characters are frauds, if you're a tennis novice, you'll be tricked that these players are real than fictional. It begs the question, if 'Top Spin 3' has that much capacity to have that many playable characters, why didn't they make a bit more effort & replace these fictional players with real life 1's?
Here's a list of the REAL life players (* are retired)
- Roger Federer
- Rafael Nadal (lucky us, this is exclusive to PS3 only)
- James Blake
- Gael Monfils
- David Nalbandian
- Mario Ancic
- Andrew Murray
- Andy Roddick
- Tomas Berdych
- Mark Philippoussis
- Tommy Haas
- Boris Becker*
- Bjorn Borg*
- Maria Sharapova
- Svetlana Kuznetsova
- Nicole Vaidisova
- Caroline Wozniacki
- Amelie Mauresmo
- Justine Henin* (I count her as retired, but when this game was made, she was still active)
- Monica Seles*
2) Controls - a bit irritating if you ask me, but I said the same thing for 'FIFA' series when they've changed the shooting & passing system. Instead of hitting the ball by simply tapping or holding a button, you have time you're shots & let go of the button at the right moment to return the shot, otherwise you'll completely miss the ball. 'Top Spin School' is apparent for those who has never played the game before & teaches everything you need to know, however I found it a waste of time, as it doesn't help at all. It's like a teacher patronising you telling you "Good" or "Excellent" even though you did completely rubbish. At 1 point I completely missed my serving target (which I have to add, is REALLY tough, it's nigh impossible to get an ace) but the game told me it was "Excellent".
Having said that, you're better off playing exhibition matches & eventually you'll get a hang of it (you won't be a pro within a week, I can assure you on that).
3) Created players - creating player is brilliant, however you only get 4 slots (meaning you can only create 4 players) plus you are ltd to enter no more than 10 characteristics, so if you're name exceed more than 10 letters, you're practically screwed. What's even worst is you can't vs. your created players (unlike 'Virtua Tennis 3' & 'Smash Court'), so it's either use him/her or don't at all. 2 reasons why this bother me;
A) If you created real life tennis stars, you can't vs. 'em without being them.
B) Future downloadable characters can only be chosen by pressing the start button & load them up, much similar to created players, so you can see the problem here, you (probably) can't vs. downloaded players either.
NOTE: Scratch the last comment, cuz I found out earlier this month that 2K Sports has no intention to release ANY downloadable content (players or new products), & this came from the administrators in 2K Sports forum.
4) Wimbledon - in this game, Wimbledon is excluded (dunno why), instead they replaced the grass Grand Slam with Dublin! This is pretty silly.
5) Career mode - Ok, I know I listed career mode on the good section too, but there are few negatives about it too. 1st thing 1st, any hardcore tennis fan will be disappointed to know that the tournaments don't start off realistically (i.e. you start from the 1/4 finals in lower ranked tournaments, while in the Grand Slams you start as the last 16). It'll be nice if you start from round 1 & play all the way through the final. Plus there's no doubles matches nor you can see a scene where the player won the tournament lifting the trophy. Now this is the major flaw, once you've reached Pro status & become ranked #1 at the end of the yr, you practically finished career mode. You cannot continue (like, starting the 2nd yr) playing through tournaments. It's like forceful retirement. You can however avoid this by not becoming world #1, which is pretty much match fixing if you ask me.
Another irritance to tennis fans is that you cannot play a 6 game set, instead, you'll play half of that (3 games for a set). However you can play 6 game sets in exhibition mode.
I know 'Virtua Tennis 3' is arcade-y so therefore they can have obscure (training) mini games, but it would be nice to have some sort of training program during career mode, or at least suffer some minor/major injuries in the process (training/tournaments), but you don't get that.
To sum it up, if you're a not-a-huge tennis fan & prefer simplistic tennis, stick with 'Virtua Tennis 3'. If you a mad tennis fanatic & can endure frustration of the controls then this is a game made for you.