Tennis Masters Series 2003 Review

Tennis games are really nothing more than fancy versions of our old friend Pong. So what Microids is giving us in Tennis Masters Series 2003 is a new Pong. Is this a good or bad thing? Well there is little doubt that the original Pong is a classic in the history of video games and can be immediately recognized by almost any gamer by a simple screen shot or sound clip. I do not believe that TMS 2003 will have the same lasting affect on the gaming landscape. While it may not go down in history, is it still worth playing? Let’s find out…

Giving the serve a little thought.

Tennis Masters Series 2003 is based on the Masters Series Tournaments of the ATP. The Series consists of 9 tournaments in such locations as the hard courts of Miami, and Cincinnati, the clay courts of Monte Carlo and Rome, and the indoor courts of Madrid and Paris. Do well enough and you can advance to the Masters Cup in Shanghai.

TMS 2003 doesn’t have an incredible amount of game options. You can either play an exhibition or start the Tournaments itself. That’s it. There are, unfortunately, no mini-games or other interesting sidetracks. That said, this game is about trying to simulate tennis more than creating an “arcadey” game. So I suppose that’s why they left out the foo-foo stuff and concentrated more on the serious side. Still, it would have been nice to have a little more variety in play options.

Obviously the heart of TMS 2003 is the tournament play itself. But first you must decide on a player. You pick one of the 67 different players provided. No, you cannot create your own player but you can customize one of the players provided. Well, by “customize” I mean you can change the color of their outfits and racket. Changing the racket doesn’t affect the play it just changes the look. For a game that really wants to be realistic this seems to be a major oversight. Each player has attributes and abilities that define that player’s game style and skill. Some players are better power hitters than others while others play as net rushers. Choosing your type is really a reflection of how you like to play. Me, I like to go with the net rushers and try to end the point quickly. There are several abilities that help mold your player including speed, stamina, volley and forehand.

Once you have your player it’s time to start winning some matches. You progress through the game playing tournaments in the same order as the real series. First up is Indian Wells, which you must first qualify for because you are not ranked in the top 63 at first. Pretty much after your first tournament you won’t have to worry about qualifying again. And this finally gets us into the action itself. First thing I noticed was a fairly remarkable resemblance to the old Dreamcast classic, Virtua Tennis, which happens to be one of my all time favorites. Unfortunately that game is 3 years old and this is the XBox, so I was expecting more. Still, it is a decent looking game. It’s just not a great looking one.