A while ago I posted a review of Top Spin 4 for the Wii on our sister site Nutwiisystem.com. I was a wee bit underwhelmed (no pun intended). As much as I love the Wii, it does have its limitations as far as precision and graphics goes.
When it came time to review the game on the Playstation, I had high expectations. The Move is much more precise than the Wii remote, and the graphics of the PS3 are phenomenal.
I’ll start off by saying that Top Spin 4 is excellent as a tennis simulator. The graphics are smooth, fast, and realistic, down to the facial features and characteristics of the players (most of the top stars of today are represented). You can see Nadal’s leap and hear Serena’s grunts. Serves, volleys, and reactions are extremely well captured. If you’re a tennis fan, you can have a blast just playing the game with your Dualshock controller.
Of course, this blog talks about PS3 Fitness, so the burning question is–can this come close to simulating a real tennis game?
I’ll say that it comes closer than any motion control game before it, including EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis for the Wii (which used the Wii Remote Plus) and the awful Racquet Sports. Unlike the Wii version, where you just wag the remote and let the buttons do the rest, the Playstation Move allows you to control much more of the game using motion controls. One annoying thing is that every time you start the game, you need to reassign the Move Controller from 7 to 4 and to “calibrate” the controls by pressing buttons. I’m not sure why they couldn’t just make everything work seamlessly like in Sports Champions, but perhaps the publishers were new at programming for the Move and just didn’t know any better.
You can use your Move controller to perform each kind of tennis swing and to serve. To swing, you simply rear your arm back and then swing your arm forward, like a real tennis racket. If you swing your arm forward, you’ll hit a flat shot. If you swing forward and upward in a “U” shaped motion, you’ll be able to put top spin on the ball. If you swing while holding the “T” button, you’ll perform a slice.
How hard you swing matters too. As in real tennis, you can hit a power shot by making a broad backwards movement with your arm and powering your arm forward quickly. Likewise, you can hit a control shot by using very short preparation and swing motions.
Other kinds of shots do require buttons. You can press L2 (on the Navigation Controller) to perform a lob. You can also hold down L1 and move your joystick forwards or backwards to approach the net or retreat respectively.
You will need a PlayStation Move Navigation Controller to make your player run and aim your shots with the joystick (the Dualshock works too, much is much clunkier in your hands).
As I said, the graphics are phenomenal. All of the grand slam venues are reproduced to amazing accuracy, and you can customize your players to the smallest details, even to the sound he or she makes when grunting during a shot or the dance he or she makes after a victory.
I have to admit I was a little disappointed at the implementation of the swing. It seemed just a little sluggish and didn’t match my movements 1:1. Serving feels completely disjointed, as if all you have to do is raise and lower your hands, and you’ll hit a perfect serve each time. In that sense, it was a lot like the Wii. It’s hard not to make comparisons and wonder why they couldn’t match Sports Champions ping pong, where your movements are literally matched exactly and you can do even subtle things like rotate your racquet by turning your wrists. None of that here.
As for the “workout” value, there really isn’t much to speak of. I do think that if the swinging was implemented a little more realistically, it might be a fun game to play over and over. But in this game, it feel like the Move controller was more or less and afterthought to a game that was designed first and foremost to be played with handheld controllers. As such, I’d give it a 4.5 for gameplay, but a 2.5 for Move implementation, so I’ll average it out at 3.5 stars out of 5. If you’re a die-hard tennis fan, it’s worth it for the game, if not for the Move implementation or workout potential.
3.5 of 5 stars.