Ace Tennis 2010 HD (iPad) Review
Jason takes a break from killing zombies...
I read an article on one of those other gaming websites last month about how statistically, iPad users are less likely to be interesting in dedicated handhelds, such as the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP, for on-the-go gaming. I brushed the conclusion off immediately, mostly because I figured the iPad faithful group and the hardcore handheld gamer group didn't share very many members between them. Then I got an iPad. It might just be the lure of a new toy, but the so-far excellent Dragon Quest IX on the DS and LEGO Harry Potter on the PSP have sat untouched while the iPad has been glued in my palms since I took it out of the box. Games like Zombie Infection HD, Dungeon Hunter HD, N.O.V.A. HD (you can find my review for the iPhone version of N.O.V.A. on this site) and Iron Man 2 HD have been a real wake-up call; they, as well as all the other iPhone games that just look and play better on the bigger screen, have proven to me that Apple's tablet is every bit the gaming device as the Sony and Nintendo rivals.
Normally being an action/shooter iPad game fan, I was unsure how much I would be able to get into Ace Tennis 2010 HD. A look at the iTunes app store shows plenty of positive reviews, but sports games aren't usually at the top of my list. Imagine my surprise when I found myself forgoing other games in favor of this one, working on my serving skills rather than shooting at zombies or hacking my way through waves of skeletons and spiders. Aside from one fatal flaw, Ace Tennis is the most fun I've had with the sport since, well, ever.
Most know how the game of tennis is played, and since sports games don't really have "stories" or "characters" per se, I'm skipping right to what is becoming increasingly important in all iPad/iPhone games: Control. For a system with no buttons, Ace Tennis plays remarkably well, and there are plenty of customization options for how you'd like to tailor the controls. I went with the default setting, and was mostly pleased with how it went. A virtual d-pad controls your player (though it is more about left and right than up and down), and depending on the shot, you either press a virtual button to hit the ball or the game does it automatically. The touch controls are responsive and easy to get a handle on.
But they do contain a problem. As with any new platform, developers are still feeling out what works and what doesn't with the iPad. Here's what doesn't: Tilt controls. What was so successful on the iPhone just doesn't translate to the bigger, heavier device. In Ace Tennis, you are expected to tilt the iPad in all directions to influence the path of the ball. The shots themselves can't do that, so you'll be slinging the device all over the place to get the shots to land where you want them. Not only is it uncomfortable, it requires far more movement of my $800 tablet than I am comfortable with. Thankfully, this is only the default setting and can be changed to more conventional controls, but it represents a fatal flaw in not only Ace Tennis, but all iPad games: The iPad DOES NOT WORK with tilt controls. There are no exceptions to this rule, though it will probably be a year or two before developers grasp this fact. Just keep the customizable controls as an option and us gamers will be happy.
Once you get a grasp on how things are done (it won't take long), you can fight through a series on computer-controlled opponents, or you can get online and match up against real folks from around the world. If you become a long-term fan of Ace Tennis, online is where you'll spend most of your time. And it plays surprisingly well, with only a little bit of noticeable lag here and there. I didn't really have much trouble finding opponents either. The online matches supplement the very short single player mode, making it more worth a purchase.
Note: I played the online modes over a Wi-Fi connection, not a 3G one. I can't say for sure whether or not the game plays as well on 3G, or at all, but you've got no quality issues to worry about on Wi-Fi.
As a last note, Ace Tennis boasts a pretty good presentation. The character models are fairly detailed and the tennis courts in particular are nice to look at. There is also a lot going on outside the court itself, with detailed stadium features and a large crowd in the bleachers. The game's title screen is a bit ridiculous (take Sylvester Stone's face during his scream at the beginning of Cliffhanger, add a tennis racket and some watercolors and you've got this hilarious mess), but it is quickly forgotten by the time you start swatting those balls around.
Not being a sports guy, I was surprised by my drive to play this game over others more tailored to my style. Once the controls had been adjusted (I'll say it again titlting and iPad don't mix), the game kept me interested and even pushed me to compete online for a few matches (I won 7 of my 10). Ace Tennis is more than worth its $4.99 price tag, and falls on the higher end of iPad exclusive games. Even if you think 40-love is a clever name for a porn site featuring older ladies, you'll probably still be able to find some fun with this one.
Final Rating: 85%
Transmitted: 1/25/2015 5:10:14 AM