OPINION: Part Four of my favourite tennis video games: Top Spin

As each game goes on this featurette, the technical advances each time really ramp up. Virtua Tennis introduced realistic (for the time) player models and an interactive crowd, amongst other innovations.

But the connection with the ball was what really impressed, arcadey yes, but oh so satisfying.

On the surface, the progression from the sega classic to a veritable new kid on the block was not immediately as revolutionary.

But in Top Spin for the original Xbox we had a true game changer. Not an outright simulator, but infinitely more deep, expandable and polished an experience. It seemed the first game to really reward the purist: the gameplay mechanics were super slick, as was the rest of the package.

Everything not only holds up today, but exceeds alot of the current gen sport titles hidden beneath gimmicky controls, and oceans of stats, licenses and advertising.

The rocky soundtrack encapsulates the titles Americana roots, the graphics are especially good for their age, the male and female player roster is decent and features players from different eras and with distinctive playing styles. The single player campaign is very well put together and rewarding for those willing to stick with it. Alongside it is one of the benchmarks for character creation and customisation.

Gameplay itself saw an extension of the standard four buttons for flat shot, power shot, lob and slice. Pressing B would instead hit a ‘top spin’ shot, which alone opened up angles not utilised before. Trigger buttons would produce either an outlandish powerful winner or drop shot, but a gauge would have to be judged perfectly to pull it off and not produce the error.

To top it all off, the multiplayer action is fast, furious and never repetitive. A special shout out to those ‘attitude’ buttons allowing players to show varying degrees of distaste or admiration for points lost/won. A genius and playful little touch in a game that laid the foundations for the generation ahead.

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