Top Spin E3 2005 Preshow Report

We keep the ball in play with our preview of the long-awaited PS2 version of Top Spin.


The Top Spin series hit it big on the Xbox with its sharp graphics, compelling online play, and controls of surprising depth and subtlety. The series now turns to the PlayStation 2, where it's scheduled to hit retail stores in summer of 2005, along with some new gameplay twists that are served up this time around.

First, let's talk about the basics. Top Spin is all about creating an accessible tennis experience, one that is both approachable for newbies and challenging for experienced players. All the standard shot types you've come to expect in tennis titles--slices, drop shots, lobs, forehands, and backhands, among others--will be part of your player's aresenal. Top Spin also tosses in crowd-pleasing trick shots as well, such as behind-the-back and between-the-leg shots, for when you want to really pump things up.

As you play out your rallies in Top Spin, you'll be asked to take special risks on certain shots to get "in the zone." Though we have yet to see it in action, the game will include a zone meter, presumably a timing-based system that will let you to make these high-risk/high-reward shots...but only if your timing is right. The more you're "in the zone," the more momentum per match you'll have.

Another interesting aspect of Top Spin for the PS2 is the idea of specializing your created player to a certain surface type. The game will feature three court surfaces--clay, grass, and hard--all of which differently affect both your movement and the motion of the ball. Will you choose to become a grass specialist, such as Martina Navratilova, or a master clay court player, such as Björn Borg? You'll have to decide in Top Spin.

As long as we're dropping names of tennis stars here, it's worth mentioning some notable names in Top Spin's roster. Male stars such as Switzerland's Roger Federer, Spain's Carlos Moya, and Australia's Lleyton Hewitt will be joined by such ladies as Russia's Maria Sharapova, Switzerland's Martina Hingis, and America's Venus Williams in the game. If you don't want to play the fame game, however, Top Spin will also let you put your face in the game using your EyeToy peripheral.

Finally, it wouldn't be a Top Spin game without online play, and the PS2 version of the game looks to be nearly as in-depth as the Xbox game, as it includes features such as matchmaking, sponsored tourneys, seedings, and player ladders. We're looking forward to playing a few sets with Top Spin at E3, so when we switch sides during play, we'll report back our findings.

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