Top Spin 2 Review

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Publisher: 2K Sports (Take-Two Interactive)
Developer: 2K Sports

Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, DS, GBA
Reviewed on Xbox 360

Top Spin 2 is, simply, tennis. Tennis against the world's top pros in stadia around the world, complete with customizable characters and top-notch play on every surface.

Kyle Ackerman

Simply put, Top Spin 2 brings the thoroughly solid tennis franchise onto the latest generation of consoles, adding spectacular high-definition visuals to the solid play that returns from the original Top Spin. While the play is similar to the original game, you also get the ability to create incredibly sophisticated custom players, along with even more professionals against whom to match your racket skills.

Top Spin 2 follows the basic play of Top Spin, and that's really the only reason the game doesn't merit a higher score, especially at its launch price. The game is, essentially, an update of the original game with a graphic makeover rather than real progress in tennis play. If you are a tennis game fanatic, it will pay to upgrade to Top Spin 2. Otherwise, if you've played the original, there's not a lot more to experience other than shiny courts and fancier pros.

There's the usual array of forehand and backhand shots, mixed with drop shots, volleys and spin of all sorts. Successful play yields momentum that can be spent on even more subtle varieties of shots, including the difficult-to-execute and nearly-impossible-to-return risk shots. That means players can play a placid game, constantly hitting safe shots across the net, or risk shots that might catch the net or go out, to secure victory. While the game has plenty of sophisticated shot options that can be learned and practiced during training with your coach, it is possible to remain a top pro by wearing down your opponents with consistent and skilled volleys using just the basic forehand and backhand shots.

Top Spin 2 does offer the ability to create a sophisticated pro player from any nation, almost completely customizable in appearance. Like many sports games, success mostly requires building your player's experience (gaining stars for your profile) until your tennis pro is a force to be reckoned with, however skilled you may be at risk shots. Along the way, you can fund training by winning tournaments or satisfying sponsors.

The game is decently polished, it simply doesn't offer much that's new. The sound remains superb, although the music that pervades the long loading screens gets extremely repetitive. That's not really an issue during a tournament, although it can be irritating when transitioning between multiple, brief training sessions.

Unless you need the improved graphics or smoother online play, there's not much to recommend Top Spin 2 over the original Top Spin. But the latest incarnation of the series is still a solid experience for those who want to enjoy time on clay, grass and concrete proving grounds around the world.

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