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Top Spin PlayStation 2

Published by 2K Sports
Developed by Power and Magic Development
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Top Spin, an introduction.

A few years ago now we reviewed Top Spin on the Xbox. The game was very impressive and easily the best tennis game to date since Virtua Tennis 2. At that time it was an Xbox exclusive but since then the game has also appeared on the PC. With Microsoft selling off all of their sports games to Take Two Interactive the opportunity for the game to appear on other formats occurred and as a result here we have the once Xbox exclusive appearing on the PlayStation 2.

What's the game about?

Top Spin offers an Exhibition mode, a Custom Tournament mode, an Online mode and a Career mode. There is also a Tennis School mode that shows you brief video clips that serve as mini-tutorials. As with the Xbox version the heart of the game is the Career mode and it's here that you'll spend most of your time with the game (offline at least). You create a player (male or female) and begin at the wrong end of the top 100 players. Initially you can only play in minor pro tournaments which, if you win will earn you 15,000 coin (the currency in Top Spin). To upgrade your skills or masteries as they are called (which are broken down into Forehand, Backhand, Serve and Volley) you'll need coin and one of your fourteen mastery stars. You have to find a relevant coach and pay coin as well as use a star to upgrade your chosen ability (assuming you pass the small exercise). The coach training sections are similar to the mini-games in Virtua Tennis and are quite fun. As you increase in abilities and win tournaments, your ranking will improve and you'll gain access to the higher tournaments. You can also get a sponsor for yourself if you can complete the tasks they set for you. Sponsors provide you with extra kit and money which is always useful. The first tournaments you have access to are quite easy but when you reach the major pro and grand slam tournaments, you'll be in for a stiff challenge. You can check on your progress at anytime by pressing the start button and accessing your Nexus, which allows you to change your kit and monitor your progress.

What's good about the game?

Whilst we have some issues with this PlayStation version of Top Spin it's good to see that the move over to the PlayStation 2 has at least left the great game play intact. Ignoring the quality of the graphics and concentrating on how it plays it's fair to say that Top Spin is rivaled only by Virtua Tennis 2 when it comes to tennis games on the console and with Top Spin you can play online too. EyeToy support has been included to help you create your own character for the Career mode. Taking a picture of your face with the camera (and actually making it look good) is no easy task though and after several failed attempts we just stuck to the usual method of creating a player.

What's not so good about the game?

In terms of how the game plays, it's pretty much the same as the Xbox version. However the Xbox version was one of the few games to make full use of the Xbox hardware and sacrifices have had to be made, in terms of how the game looks, to bring the game on to the inferior PlayStation 2 hardware. The game looks a lot poorer than the original Xbox version. Scrolling around on the map in career mode is painfully slow and nowhere near as smooth as on the Xbox version. The load times are troublesome and irritatingly long, and save times can be on the long side too.

How does it look?

Much of the visual splendour that the Xbox version of Top Spin had is not present in this PlayStation 2 version of the game. The players and courts look OK but they are inferior to the ones found in the Xbox version which is to be expected I suppose. The textures in particular look very basic when you compare them with the Xbox version. The frame rate is not as impressive in the PlayStation 2 version and dips a little at times, although it never becomes troublesome.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Top Spin is fine for deaf gamers. Surprisingly enough there is no match commentary. The umpire calls out the score but this is shown onscreen anyway. Before the start of a tournament you receive a few words from an announcer and these comments are not subtitled but it's no loss and certainly adds nothing to the game play. All information, the bulk of which can be found in your Nexus is shown in text, which is especially welcome in the single player career mode. You'll also be able to see what the crowd thinks of you too as this is represented by an ITZ meter. The fuller the bar the more the crowd are impressed with your play. The Tennis School tutorial clips are exclusively in text so you'll be able to follow these without any problems.

Final thoughts.

Top Spin arrives on the PlayStation 2 looking a shadow of its former self. However if you can forgive the game for looking rougher than the Xbox version and can overlook problems such as the long loading times and painfully slow map scrolling in the career mode, then you'll be pleased with the fact that the game plays just as well as it did on the Xbox. In fact there's only Virtua Tennis 2 on the PlayStation 2 to rival Top Spin and that game doesn't have online play.


Overall Game Rating: 7.3/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Although it is a rather rough looking version of the great Xbox tennis game, Top Spin manages to keep the original game play intact.