Top Spin 3 Review

If there's a word that comes to mind in thinking of how to describe Top Spin 3 it's 'punishing'.  This game is punishing to casual gamers, punishing to the average sports gamer, and even punishing to hardcore fans of professional tennis.  The game is brutally difficult to play, with AI players that play nearly flawlessly and make you pay dearly for your mistakes.  Even when playing against another gamer it seems that you're competing with the game's requirement for precision and your own mistakes more than the other player.  If it sounds like I'm trying to scare you away from the game it's because I am.  I need to warn anyone looking for a casual or even average game of video tennis that Top Spin 3 will eat you up from the very start and soon have you retiring from the game's career mode after a string of humiliating defeats at the amateur level.  Save yourself the frustration and look elsewhere for your tennis action.  For those of you still with me, let's move on.

You begin your career in Top Spin 3 with the creation of your tennis player.  Top Spin 3 takes a bit of a different tack with the player creation process in that you select from a gallery of of existing player models and then apply changes to customize your player rather than starting from scratch.  You don't have as much freedom as you do in such games as Tiger Woods, but there are enough features that you can mix and match to create a unique look for your player.  Top Spin 3 tries to make your character look more realistic by eliminating the perfect facial symmetry usually found in videogame characters, but it goes a bit too far.  Rather then making the player look more realistic, the makes its players look a little odd, like they're all a little drunk or not quite feeling well.

Once you have your player it's off to the amateur ranks where you must beat three other amateurs on a community court to advance to the challenger rank.  This may sound easy enough, but even at this level the game the game is pretty unforgiving and your opponents rarely make mistakes.  You'll have no trouble hitting the net, sending a shot out of bounds, or swinging at air, but your opponents never seem to make the same type of miscues.  The controller buttons allow you to hit top spin, flat, slice, or lob shots, and these can be further modified by the triggers to make power or finesse shots.  Timing and position are everything in the game, and mistiming your swing by a little bit is enough to screw up your shot.  New players really need to spend some time in the game's training mode if they hold any aspirations of advancing past the amateur ranks.  As you win matches you'll accumulate experience points that can be used to improve your player's skills in a number of areas.  Even though your character will improve as you win matches, the competition keeps pace at each level and the game will remain challenging as your career progresses.

Top Spin 3 also comes with full support for online multiplayer play.  You can play in quick or ranked matches, or even compete in online tournaments.  Online leaderboards help you track your progress in ranked play.  Online play is smooth and trouble free, and it's good to see that lag is not an issue in a game that depends so heavily on timing.

Top Spin 3 has got to be one of the best looking tennis games to date.  Everything from the court surfaces to the player movements looks sharp and natural.  A lot of care went into making the tennis venues realistic - there are even passing cars in the streets surrounding the community tennis court on the amateur circuit.

If you have a high tolerance for frustration and are willing to put in the time it takes to really learn the game's controls, you'll be rewarded with a challenging tennis experience that should please fans of the sport.  However, if you're just looking for some fun tennis action, the high level of difficulty will be off-putting and you're better off passing on Top Spin 3.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated:78%. Just as in the real sport, it will take you some time, practice, and patience to succeed in Top Spin 3.