Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament PlayStation 2
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- SMASH COURT TENNIS PRO TOURNAMENT will have five exciting game modes. Enjoy the original in Arcade Mode. Work your way up through the rankings in Pro Tournament Mode. Learn your skills in Challenge Mode and then test them in Exhibition Mode. See how quickly you can win the Grand Slam in the Time Attack Mode. The game will also support up to four players, with a multi-tap, for "doubles" competition. Included, will be a bonus Trophy Room where you can win prizes based on your winnings.
- Beautiful and realistic motion-captured graphics and moves, as well as realistic sounds and in-depth game strategies will provide a true-to-life gaming experience and hours of play. It is time to smash, slice, drop, lob, and volley your opponent into oblivion!
It's Wimbledon time again and even if most people won't start caring until we're out of the World Cup, a handful of games companies are still about to unleash a swarm of Tennis games upon us. Jay takes a look at the first.
The world’s main Tennis event is soon upon us and once again we’ll desperately convince ourselves that this year our one competent player (Tim Henman) will actually go and win it, only to have our spirits shattered as he gets knocked out at the quarter/semi-final stage and Pete Sampras goes on to breeze it as per usual. Also those with little care for Tennis will once again feign an interest so they can gawp at Anna Kournikova for hours on end. Well, until she goes out in round two that is.
To capitalise on Wimbledon, games companies will now predictably churn out a deluge of Tennis titles to feed off of the nation’s current mood. The first of these is Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament, which in all fairness should be pretty good, considering it’s been developed by arcade king and all-round heavyweight developer Namco.
Initially comparisons with Virtua Tennis 2 on Dreamcast are inevitable - this is the daddy of all tennis games and the one that all other efforts are compared to. So does Smash Court stand up to Virtua Tennis? Or is it some sort of cheap knock-off version that Granny would buy you for your birthday, unaware that different games display different degrees of quality?
In terms of what’s presented to you on screen it’s all a bit so-so. The characters and backgrounds look quite different from those in Virtua Tennis. They lack the stylish sheen but also the arcadey feel, so the result is something that takes itself a bit more seriously. But even with this in mind, the characters don’t really look any more detailed facially and only slightly represent the players they’re based on. The worst thing about the graphics lies mainly in the presentation however, with the scores and other info that’s displayed at the beginning of each new serve looking seriously over the top and unnecessarily complex.
Control wise there’s a bit more to Smash Court, further emphasising the point that it’s more serious than Virtua Tennis. You have topspin, backspin and lob to toy around with. At first backspin will get under-used, seemingly providing your opponent with an easy return each time it’s played. The same goes for lob, more often than not when faced with an opponent who’s come to the net and seems impenetrable, a lob does little good, with the said opponent easily getting back in time to pummel your lob back across the court.
The charm within Virtua Tennis was the fact that anyone could get into it. Anyone could play it for a short while and in that time do something that made them feel clever enough to then want to try it again and improve. This is sadly lacking here. Moves don’t look flashy and players never attempt to hit the ball through their legs or dive desperately for the ball like they would in the Sega game. In fact the players here just seem like they can’t be bothered. Many a time the ball will be within reaching distance, but the ball simply glides by as your character swings close to their chest, rather than actually stretching for the ball.
Tennis works well in video game form when it’s represented in a fairly limited and simplistic manner. Add too much into the equation and the fun factor of being able to just pick it up and easily adapt your instincts to the rules and methods on offer is completely lost under a thick duvet of unnecessary and complex play manoeuvres. With Virtua Tennis you know where you are. One button for standard shot the other for lob and whether you push forward or backwards whilst directing your shot determines the depth into which it will travel. Simple. But here, the added topspin and backspin tactical chimpery and the dodgy way in which CPU controlled characters manage to pull off shots that you seem to never be able to do yourself is just a nightmare. Watch in wonder as your opponents seem to be everywhere at once to return anything you pelt at them, whilst managing to strike offerings your way that you simply can’t get to.
Smash Court Tennis is a reasonable stab at a tennis game, it’s got all the modes you need and a multiplayer function for four willing participants (as long as you’ve got a multi-tap that is) and would be worth buying for all non-Dreamcast owning tennis fans, if it wasn’t for the fact that Virtua Tennis 2/Sega Sports Tennis 2K2 will be out on PS2 next month. We recommend you pre-order that instead.
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