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Hands-onTennis 2K2 DC

Read our hands-on impressions of the sequel to Virtua Tennis.

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The success of last year's Hitmaker-developed Virtua Tennis was a surprise to industry critics, consumers, and even Sega itself. The game combined simple gameplay mechanics, realistic physics, and impressive graphics in one easy-to-enjoy package. Hitmaker has carried that formula over to the game's sequel, but, as part of Sega's quest to expand its sports lineup, the game is now part of the growing Sega Sports brand.

There are a variety of specific enhancements that have been implemented for the sequel, as it transitions into the Sega Sports lineup. Most notably, the game now includes eight female players, alongside eight male pros, for a grand total of 16 internationally ranked tennis players. The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, will serve as the game's official cover-athletes, and they will be joined by well-known pros such as Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Patrick Rafter, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Mary Pierce, Carlos Moya, Tim Henman, and Cedric Pioline, among others. Like last year's game, each of the players has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Davenport has one of the hardest serves among the female players in the game, while a player like Tim Henman is best used by placing shots around the court and playing a conservative game. Along with the addition of the female players, comes the ability to play mixed doubles, alongside the returning singles and doubles matches.

Other changes in Tennis 2K2 include a newly revamped World Circuit Mode. Here you will be able to create and train your own pro and enter tournaments based around the globe to achieve the world number one ranking. As with last year's game, you will be able to sign doubles partners and unlock a host of other goodies in this mode. Aside from the new gameplay options, several new animations have also been added to the game. While they hardly have any effect on ganeplay, the animation sequences, such as diving saves and players more realistically moving out of the ball's path to return the ball, are a welcome touch to the overall look and feel of the game. In terms of overall gameplay, however, Tennis 2K2 plays very much like its predecessor. It uses the same control scheme, and, much like the original, the gameplay is more twitch-based than actual tennis strategy. The objective, usually, is to get your opponent leaning the wrong way.

Tennis 2K2 has also improved visually, when compared with the original. The player faces, in particular, are now much more true to their real-life counterparts, and they don't sport the eerie zombie-style look of the models in last year's game. The 3D-modeled faces are also able to exhibit more emotion, as they will express disgust, anger, and joy through specific facial gestures. The clothing textures have also been tweaked, particularly with the addition of the more robustly dressed female players. The courts are also a bit more cluttered in Tennis 2K2, with more 3D-rendered line judges dotting the periphery.

Tennis 2K2 will be released in October for the Sega Dreamcast. At present, it appears unlikely that it will support online play on Sega's console. The PlayStation 2 version will be released in March 2002.

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