Top Spin 2 Xbox 360
Published by 2K Sports
Developed by 2K Sports
Release Date: Out Now
Top Spin 2, an introduction.
Without any doubt one of the best sports games on the original Xbox was Top Spin. In fact along with the Virtua Tennis series it's easily one of the best Tennis games on any platform to date. Of course it was always going to be a strong possibility that a sequel would arrive and with the launch of the Xbox 360 there was a console waiting to take tennis games to the next level, at least in terms of graphical quality.
What's the game about?
As you can imagine the game is very similar to Top Spin in regards to what you can do and the modes on offer. The modes on offer are Exhibition, Tournament, Career, Party Games and Xbox Live. These modes are pretty self-explanatory with Exhibition allowing for one-off singles and doubles matches, Tournament allowing you to create your own tournaments and Party Games providing some mini-games for 2-4 players offline. Xbox Live allows for unranked and ranked matches. The real meat of the game is the Career mode and it's here you'll spend many hours honing the skills of your custom tennis player. The game has 24 tennis pros including Federer, Sharapova and Venus Williams. There are also several official courts here such as Wimbledon, the Rod Laver Arena and the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
What's good about the game?
If you enjoyed the original Top Spin (and the Virtua Tennis games for that matter) you'll enjoy what Top Spin 2 has to offer. Essentially it's a very similar game to the original Top Spin. We had a few issues with the original Top Spin and most of these appear to have been sorted out in this sequel. Top Spin didn't allow you to play mixed games (male against female players) and you couldn't save your progress during a tournament in career mode. Thankfully you can do both of these now and the game is all the better for it.
The Career mode is where you'll spend most of your time with the game and once again you can create your own custom player and take them through a whole career. The customisation options are pretty impressive and if you're prepared to spend time tweaking a plethora of features you can create a player that looks just how you want them to. Initially your player will be hopeless (ranked as low as 200) but you will have 200,000 coin (the game's currency) to spend on training that will help to improve your attributes a little. For each attribute (such as Service, Forehand, Precision etc.) you have to earn bronze, silver and gold stars. It's not possible to max out all of your player's attributes so you have to be careful to develop your player in a way that suits your style of play. To aid you in your quest to become number one you'll have a variety of coaches to choose from and a crazy amount of tournaments to take part in. These tournaments range from small regional competitions played on local courts right up to the Grand Slam tournaments such as Wimbledon. There are many games to be played on the yearly calendar but you do have the option of simulating matches if you don't wish to play through earlier rounds and you can just take over for the final (or you can just simulate the whole tournament if you wish). As in Top Spin there are a variety of brand names in the game and you can choose who you want to sponsor you. Each sponsor will have a variety of challenges for you to complete which will earn you prize money amongst other things. As your player progresses through the ranks they will also get fan mail which is a really nice touch.
Of course all of this great stuff in the career mode would amount to naught if the controls weren't up to scratch. Thankfully the controls are great. Risk shots make a return from the original Top Spin and some more advanced shots have been added too. As your player does well in a match they will gain momentum and this will cause the momentum meter to fill. As the momentum meter fills you'll gain access to these advanced shots (the meter has A, B, X and Y markings that signify when each short can be used). Whilst the Risk shots are usually awkward to pull off the advanced shots are much easier (you simply hold down the LT in addition to the relevant button) and are preferable. It's worth noting that your custom player won't have immediate access to these advanced shots and that they must be learnt during the course of their career before they can be used.
What's not so good about the game?
The biggest complaint with Top Spin 2 has to be the loading times. At times it feels like you're playing the game on a PlayStation 2 because the load times are quite lengthy in places. The game offers two camera angles. There's the default view that's quite high up and the zoomed in view that puts you behind your player. Personally I prefer the latter but there's no way to make this the default view so at the beginning of every match I have to press the start button and change the camera angle. Having to constantly do this does get on your nerves after a while. I would have also liked to have been able to use my custom players in the Tournament mode but sadly you can't do this (although you can use them in Exhibition mode).
How does it look?
It really goes without saying that the game surpasses the visual quality of the original Top Spin and that it's the best looking Tennis game to date. However, I don't believe the game looks as good as it could have on the Xbox 360 which given that the game has arrived early in the console's life is no surprise. However, the game still does look impressive whether you're playing on a HD display or a normal TV. The player models are actually quite impressive and their animations are as good as you could hope for. The courts all look good too and you'll notice a lot of things going on in the background which makes a nice change from simply having cardboard cut-out crowds and static bystanders.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Deaf gamers won't have any problems with Top Spin 2. The match commentary isn't subtitled and any comments the players might make during a match are also not subtitled but these are the only omissions and they aren't much of a loss (especially as all the scores and decisions are shown in text anyway). During the career mode you'll receive voice messages in addition to text messages from your coach and fans etc. Thankfully these are subtitled so you won't miss out on any of them which is great stuff. All tutorial messages and the requirements for the training mini-games are shown in text.
Top Spin 2 is more of a good sequel than an impressive one but nevertheless it's a sequel that will welcomed by fans of the original game. The career mode is deeper and more satisfying and will keep you busy for months whilst you take your custom players from the bottom of the rankings to the top. It's not wildly different from other tennis games you've played before such as Top Spin and the Virtua Tennis games but then again it doesn't really need to be. If you enjoyed the original Top Spin then you can pretty much regard this as must a buy.
Overall Game Rating: 8.7/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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Top Spin 2 is highly recommended for fans of the original Top Spin on the Xbox. The career mode has more depth and will simply last for months. The game could probably have looked better though and Top Spin 2 isn't as different from the first game in the series as you might have expected. However, it still plays an excellent game of tennis.