Ever since Top Spin 3’s release, the franchise’s approach to its players is much more approachable and accessible for gamers. Top Spin 4 is no different as it improves in a magnificent way from its predecessors. Top Spin 4 seems to easily replicate the popular sport in almost, if not all aspects; as opposed to just mirroring the simple aspects from the sport; that’s why Top Spin 4 excels in gameplay – it manages to create a variety for players which will add to their enjoyment of the tennis title. 2K Sports has recurrently been developing extremely realistic tennis experiences with its Top Spin series. Every recent iteration in the tennis video game IP has countless attractive selling points such as the game offering easy controls for beginners; absolutely stunning visuals that are literally hard to differentiate from real life and, most importantly, delivering fun. Well, that’s exactly the case for Top Spin 4.
The PlayStation Move has arguably been searching for the killer software ever since the peripheral’s release. Sure, there have been a slew of titles released by Sony making the Move a very compelling device to purchase for the general consumer – including Killzone 3 and many more big blockbusters such as Resistance 3 – but there hasn’t been a title that has essentially made the Move shine. However, that’s all changed with 2K Game’s Top Spin 4; a perfect fit for a Move-enabled game with the recently released game being a tennis title.
The gameplay, as stated, easily replicates the real sport. The shots are allocated to the normal controller buttons with lob, slicing, top spin and flat shots. Now, where the Top Spin series has always excelled is the fact it’s a tennis simulator; the shot accuracy and power is primarily determined by the shot strength – if you hold the buttons down longer then the shot will be harder and players must also time the shot well if the accuracy is to be good, too. For example, players who would want to successfully smash a forehand to the far corner of the opponent’s court they would have to hold down the circle button until a gauge that shows fills up. Once you do that, there is no better satisfaction then smashing a right/left backhand shot only for your opponent to stare at it breezing past them.
Now, the Move compatibility of the title: the Move, in addition to the DualShock 3 and the normal SixAxis PS3 controller, is a way to make the experience of playing Top Spin 4 closely resemblance the sport in real life. Personally, I enjoy playing tennis and it’s great fun and now with the Move being compatibility with Top Spin 4, I won’t need to play real-life tennis anymore; yes, it’s that good. The fact that the Move has 1:1 motion tracking I knew the experience with the device playing Top Spin 4 wouldn’t fail to disappoint.
One of the best parts of Top Spin 4 is undeniably the player’s real life attributes compared to their game counterparts. Each player feels unique and many have their own personality that is clearly shown; if you want speed and great power on the forehand and backhand then Nadal is the perfect player for that. If you fancy a powerful serve and even more powerful shots then Roddick is the player that fits the bill.
While there were fears the Move controls would be too similar like Wii Tennis, it’s exactly the opposite; the Move is essentially a tennis racket whilst the Navigation Controller – or players can use the normal PS3 controller’s analogue stick – is used to move the in-game tennis player. Players can add touches of spin as well as selecting various other shot methods in the form of the buttons on the PlayStation Move controller. In my countless hours testing the game the hit detection from the Move controller didn’t fault once and never failed to hit a shot; all shots were detected.
In terms of game modes, there are certainly a lot of modes that’ll help you become more accustomed and comfortable with the game as well as the modes adding a healthy amount of replayability. Firstly, there’s Top Spin Academy; the mode’s a tutorial teaching players the various elements of the game such as basic and advanced tactics – it’s a mode that generally helps you get a grasp of Top Spin 4’s core gameplay elements. Then, there’s Career mode. The core aim in the Career mode is for you to take a created tennis player and get higher in the rankings by winning matches. The more you proceed throughout the mode, the more tournaments – both major and small – you can partake in. For every match you player – regardless if you win or not – you’ll receive XP based on your performance and that will go into upgrading your created player. If your tennis player performs well on a constant basis then a coach will eventually talk to you. Every coach has a rank including bronze, silver, or gold and each holds its merits.
Then, there’s the game’s character creation mode – you’ll instantly notice it’s very detailed and gives a huge variety so you’ll be able to completely mirror yourself into the game. The mode which many will be intrigued in is, however, undoubtedly the game’s online component. Although, before I go into the multiplayer aspect of Top Spin 4, the offline multiplayer gameplay is highly recommended, too; you’ll have a blast with four friends playing doubles against other in the same room. The pressure and skill is truly tested and raised in the online mode of Top Spin 4. Firstly, the game has the typical player-against-player match and, trust me, you’ll find many highly competitive opponents; so, due to this, the online mode adds a whole new experience in Top Spin 4. Every challenger I’ve played have been great competition and even if you lose, you’d have a great time learning against a real-life player and you may find yourself deeply involved in the multiplayer aspect of Top Spin 4 for countless weeks. Finally, there’s an online World Tour mode where players can enter their created characters into an online tournament. Also, a mode entitled 2K Open mode allows you to choose a real tennis player and work your way through to reach the top rank. All of the highly entertaining online modes will keep you coming back and that alone is a reason to consider picking up Top Spin 4.
The visuals of Top Spin 4 is just utterly stunning. I could leave it there but it won’t do it any justice. Like I’ve said before, Top Spin 4′s visual attributes are absolutely breathtaking and is truly hard to differentiate from real life. If you’re playing on a HD TV be prepared to be simply blown away. The cool sliding on certain surfaces, the player’s face, the actual court; everything resemblances the real-life sport and with the great gameplay paired with realistic visuals, you won’t find many similar breathtaking experiences.
Top Spin 4 plays and feels superb; the visuals are the closest you’re ever going to experience to the real sport and the slew of modes will keep players entertained for a long time. As far as Tennis simulators go, you will not find a better title than Top Spin 4. And considering this is essentially one of the best games that integrates itself perfectly with the PlayStation Move you owe it to yourself to pick up Top Spin 4 – regardless if you’re a fan of the sport or not; that’s the beauty of Top Spin 4: the majority of newcomers will instantly become comfortable with the game. The game has managed to maintain the series’ realism and is still approachable to players. Top Spin 4 is the finest tennis game you’ll come across.