Outlaw Tennis Xbox
Published by Global Star Software
Developed by Hypnotix
Released - Out Now
Price : £19.99
Outlaw Tennis, an introduction.
Those crazy, rude and crude outlaw characters return for their third sports title with Outlaw Tennis. Previously we've seen this gang of delinquents in golf and volleyball games and the Xbox versions have certainly been worthwhile games, if you can take the tone of the character's attitudes that is. Can these crazy characters come good in a tennis game though?
What's the game about?
If you've played the previous Outlaw games you'll recognise the format of the game. You've got a choice of Quick Play, Exhibition, Tour, Drills and Xbox Live play. There are 3 levels of AI skill, amateur, pro and veteran for all the single player modes. The game comes with 7 different game types, 16 playable characters (only 4 are initially available) and 12 courts (again most of these are locked to begin with). Each character begins with a poor set of attributes but completing drills (mini-games where you have to do all kinds of strange things) with a character will earn skill points that can be used to improve these attributes. Both the Quick Play and Exhibition modes allow you to jump right into a game. Whilst Quick Play doesn't let you alter anything, the Exhibition mode will allow you to setup a custom game (the number of games per set and game type can be chosen amongst other things). The Tour mode is the heart of the single-player game and it's here that you'll unlock characters, courts, equipment and costumes for the characters. In total the Tour mode offers 80 events for you to win. Finally there's an Xbox Live mode so you can take your friends on in a head-to-head match.
What's good about the game?
Like the previous Outlaw games, Outlaw Tennis is again budget priced at just £19.99 and for the price it's certainly good value for money. The quality of the tennis itself is good and although it never reaches the standard of Top Spin or the Virtua Tennis games it's certainly very playable. There are some nice touches here such as the ability to let a friend partner you in a doubles match in the Tour mode instead of relying on an AI partner. There's a turbo feature that allows you to move more quickly and pull off turbo shots. The control scheme is well thought out and will be very familiar to those who have played tennis games before.
What's not so good about the game?
Outlaw Tennis is not a game for the tennis purist. The main mode of the game, Tour mode, isn't just about playing a normal game of tennis. The game variants that you can play in Exhibition mode (Hot Potato, Casino, Baseball, Football, Pinball and Ping Pong) are also included amongst the various challenges. Once again the fighting mode returns. Although the fighting has been simplified somewhat it's still an irritating feature. Thankfully you can just ignore the fighting if you want to. It might also be an annoyance that you can't change the difficulty of a Tour mode game once you've started. Should you find the level you've selected too easy after a while, you'll have to restart if you want to raise the difficulty level.
How does it look?
Graphically the game is about the same as the other Outlaw games that have appeared on the Xbox. That is to say that the games look good without really taking advantage of the Xbox hardware. The character models are quite good and animate quite nicely. The various courts you play on in the game also look good although you never seem to have many spectators, which makes the atmosphere feel a little sterile. The characters' outbursts and entrances (at the beginning of a match) are shown as mini-cutscenes which look OK but they are repeated far too much. Thankfully you can skip them and even turn them off altogether if you wish.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Outlaw Tennis is exactly the same as the previous Outlaw games in terms of how it caters for deaf gamers which of course means it's disappointing. None of the vulgar banter or match commentary is subtitled. The one good thing about this is that the banter is very repetitive and does become tedious very quickly so it's not a major loss. The obscenities that the characters give out during the matches are also not subtitled. The instructions for the drills in the Drills mode are given in text as are any challenges that are issued by Heavy G (the umpire) during Tour mode matches. The game manual is fairly brief but manages to cover the various modes of the game sufficiently so you shouldn't be in the dark about anything.
Outlaw Tennis is a good game at a good price. It's not one for gamers who want a realistic tennis experience but those of you who enjoyed the previous Outlaw games will certainly find Outlaw Tennis as engaging as the previous games. If you didn't appreciate the rather crude and over the top take on the sports in question in either Outlaw Golf or Outlaw Volleyball then you'll probably not appreciate Outlaw Tennis, as it's very much in the same style.
Overall Game Rating: 7.4/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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If you can take the Outlaw game attitude you'll find a solid and enjoyable tennis game here. It's not quite up to the standard of Top Spin or Virtua Tennis but for less than £20 it's well worth it.