[2 Minute Review] Top Spin 3

Should I break a sweat playing a sports game?

Well, I maybe didn’t break a sweat, but I did cramp my brain.

DO: Play possibly the most realistic tennis game ever. Overhand smashes, drop shots at the net and grunts that would make Maria Sharapova proud. (Okay, maybe that was just me)

TYPE: Tennis (hopefully that’s obvious).

PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (also available on everything else but the PC).

PRICE: $59.99 on the 360.

MEAT: On the surface, it’s another sports game. Where Top Spin 3 really shines is its complexity. At times it can be extremely difficult and hard to get used to, but it becomes second nature pretty quickly. The tutorials are very well done, and get deep fast. It may be a surprise, but I’m not a professional tennis player. So I can’t say if this “feels” right, but some of the shots definitely feel like they should.

There’s a career mode, of course, which I spent most of my time in. There’s nothing new here. Play some matches, get some points to get better skills, rinse, repeat. It’s fun, it’s addictive and I’ll be playing this much more. Oh, and the character creator? My daughter could have played with that for hours. Yay for electronic paper dolls!

PERKS: We’re getting dangerously close to the uncanny valley. Not sure if that’s a perk?

SCREAMS: Nothing new? Even though this is the first Top Spin game I’ve played, I’ve played enough sports games to know there’s only so much improvement can be made. It also can be insanely complex if you want it to.

VERDICT: For most gamers, this is a rental. Tennis fans and sports fans know what they’re getting and are more likely to pick it up. It’s a good buy for a specific group of gamers. You know whether you are in that group or not. If you’re not, you probably won’t be playing this.

First Impressions Galore

Yes, this is a video game blog and yes, we do play games. Honest! Here are a few I’ve played in the last few weeks.

Unreal Tournament 3

This was my first game from GameFly. I’ve never been an Unreal guy but I gave UT3 a try nonetheless. It wasn’t a bad game, I just don’t think it was for me. I gave the single-player campaign a try, but it turned out to be a series of multiplayer matches, only against bots. There was an over-arching story going on there, but I couldn’t follow it. Having Ice T narrate didn’t help things.

I gave the online play a try, but it was total mayhem. The games we played (I tried multiplayer with my bro-in-law) were just total chaos. It simply wasn’t fun. Jumping into other games resulted similarly. If I’m going to play an FPS online, I’ve already invested enough time in Halo 3. I sent UT3 back a couple days after it showed up.

Space Invaders Extreme

After reading Nat’s review, I had to give it a try. This game is a blast. The re-imagining of Space Invaders was done perfect. The sound and music was great, very reminiscent of Meteos. I love the way the rhythm was worked into the mechanics of shooting. Very slick stuff. I definitely give S.I.E. the thumbs up.

Top Spin 3

Top Spin 3 is hard. I haven’t played a tennis game since Mario Tennis on the Gamecube, which isn’t a fair comparison. TS3 is no Mario Tennis. It’s complex, its moves and controls are deep and the gameplay is over my head. Nevertheless, it looks great and plays fun.

I still wish I had some Mario-like powerups (I’d like to shoot a tennis ball through a cannon, Donkey Kong style) but it wouldn’t feel right. I should have a review of TS3 up soon.

So that’s what I was playing. Now that I beat GTA IV, I feel like a big weight has been lifted and I can get back to playing games scatter-shot like I did before.

In my hands…

Thanks to the folks at Rocket XL for hooking us up with a copy of Top Spin 3 from 2K Sports. There’s a lot of gaming going on around here right now. I’m not sure if I’ll actually get to TS3 tonight (I gotta beat Zuma and try the Too Human Demo) but I’ll be getting to it shortly.

In the meantime here is some media you might be interested in, if tennis games are your thing:

(Also, don’t forget to vote in Nat’s latest poll. You can see it over there in the sidebar.)