I've always liked the VIRTUA TENNIS series of arcade games that were developed by Hitmaker. During my layover from London to New York last week, I found myself plunking pound coins into the game right and left. Intuitive, simple to play, difficult to master, and as addictive as TETRIS; when the series moved to the Dreamcast, I was first in line.
Now the PlayStation 2 has received a port of the Dreamcast title TENNIS 2K2. In the game, you have 16 major male and female Tennis stars (including the Williams sisters, whose images grace the cover). The game features 8 guys, and 8 gals, but unfortunately...no Anna Kournikova. You can play around the world on a plethora of different courts and tournments.
The game features the standard exhibition and single tournament modes. But what's really cool is the World Tour. You start with a character ranked 300th in the world, and build your way up to number one (if you're good enough). It's a lot of fun to work your way up from the bottom, and gives you a major goal to shoot for. You'll have to practice with the many differnent (and fun) games that are offered, and use a calendar to schedule events, and rest to rebuild stamina.
You'll be shooting for that goal with perhaps one of the most intuitive control set-ups ever. The player uses three buttons (sometimes in different combinations) and the D-pad or control stick. Once you get used to the different shots, you won't even have to think about it, and you can really get some instense matches going. You literally have to think a couple steps ahead on where the ball will end up being, and even that isn't a sure thing. What's really outrageous is playing doubles tennis especially with three other human players (with a multi-tap). Its incredible.
Ultimately, this is one party game that is a lot of fun. And while it's better if everyone is fairly experienced, even the doubles matches with multiple inexperienced players are quite a bit of fun. It'll be interesting to see if Nintendo's GameCube version of MARIO TENNIS can live up to this, but that game is a while off...and this one is out now.
The graphics in TENNIS look very nice if you've never seen the Dreamcast version. In some ways, the graphics are better: more detail and the likes. But there are some weird effects that don't look nearly as hot, such as the aliasing, which causes the graphics to be somewhat of a mixed bag.
The music is pretty good. I do like the sound effects. Partially, it's because I play with a woman who has the last name Stevenson, so every time I serve, the game says "Stevenson to serve". That's cool in my book... even if my character is a girl. For the rest of you folks who don't have the fortune of having a last name like Stevenson or Williams, the sound effect might be a little bit underwhelming. But overall they're pretty good.
Overall, TENNIS is a worthwhile addition to any gamer's library. With tons of replay value, decent graphics, good sound, and a lot of fun, you can't go wrong by picking it up.Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.