Highly enjoyable for those willing to give it time and overlook some minor flaws.

User Rating: 7.5 | Smash Court Tennis 3 X360
Having been disappointed by Top Spin 3, I was really looking forward to Smash Court Tennis 3 as previous games in this series have been reasonably good, especially Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament 2. But then the reviews came in and it seemed it was time to be disappointed again. "Is the game really that bad?" Tennis games come few and far between, they do not have annual iterations like most other sports games. Being a tennis fan, I decided to put my faith on allnamestaken's review and bought the game. Boy am I glad I did. SCT3 is a solid tennis game, and definitely better than TS3 in my opinion.

GAMEPLAY: As mentioned in a number of articles, the gameplay stands between VT3 and TS3, although it leans slightly more towards the simulation side. Initially, I got really frustrated. For a time it felt those low scores really were valid. But after the long tutorial lessons and some hours spent against easier opponents, I got going. Timing is everything in this game. Well timed shots from top players can easily change the course of a rally sending your opponent to the far ends of the court, allowing you to set-up a winner. Same is the case for serving an ace. The game makes you work for each point, like in a real match. The AI is good enough to punish you for badly timed shots. Also, there is no particular strategy to beat a certain opponent (although running towards the net does seem to be effective in many cases). Thankfully, you don't completely miss the ball even if your timing is way off the mark, you still manage to hit it. Though the shot becomes easy for the opponent to return and if you have already been pushed off the court ends, the ball will most probably fly out from your return. The point is, the players manage to make their racket meet the ball. They are not made to look like blind retards. They also don't dive as if the court is their soft bed. My only big gripe is with the service system. Directing the serve requires a nimble thumb.

I don't know why most reviewers were complaining about the slow pace of the players. Didn't they know that RT is the sprint button? Players move realistically fast enough on the court. Not everyone can dash like Nadal you know! Like in a real match, players will only run fast when they need to. Sprinting and long rallies also effects the stamina of the players. Stamina dictates the effectiveness of your shots, so you have to keep an eye on that and plan your game accordingly. For example, if you are already in a comfortable position in the match, running after far shots is not required, so you can preserve your stamina to finish off the game. You can also challenge close calls on the line, which is pretty cool. There is also an emotion system in which you can show 4 different types of emotions after each game and also after the match.

GRAPHICS: Graphically, this game looks good enough, just don't expect too much. Players look realistic but not as good as in TS3. If you are happy with VT3's graphics, you should have no problems here. Courts and surroundings look decent. The crowd is what you would expect, just there for the sake of it. Animations are a bit jerky at times and again not in the same league as TS3 which had superb player animations. A little more variation in animations would have been welcome.

SOUND: For me, this is one of the areas where the game really makes a mark. No, I'm not talking about the menu music (which is your usual J-pop and quite forgettable). I'm talking about the on-court action that sounds truly immersive. The sound of the ball hitting the sweet spot on the racket, players running around the court, crowd chatter and their reactions to each winner, other surrounding noises, all are wonderfully done. The sound of someone calling out your player's name and the crowd clapping for you when you are on match-point never gets old.

PRESENTATION: Presentation wise, this game is OK. It isn't completely bland, but there is nothing flashy or innovative about it either. It's just one of those things you will not praise, but wouldn't bother criticizing it either. I did like the player selection screen though, it was kinda different. There's a decent roster to choose from, both men and women. Also, current world No. 1s Nadal and Ivanovic are there (they were missing in TS3 remember?)

Game modes include Exhibition, Arcade, Pro Tour, Tutorial and of course Multiplayer. Arcade mode puts you through a series of tournaments depending on the difficulty level. Its actually a good way of testing your progress before starting with the Pro Tour mode. Pro Tour is the career mode where you make your own player. Player creation in the game is detailed and exhaustive. With a little effort, you should be able to create yourself or your favorite player. Custom players can also be selected for exhibition matches. In your game career you will take part in tournaments depending on your rank, face special challenges, sign sponsorship deals, buy clothes and accessories, select your doubles partners, etc. The ultimate aim is to reach the No. 1 rank. Its definitely more interesting than the TS3 career.

CONCLUSION: Smash Court Tennis 3 is a really good tennis game. A must buy for tennis fans I would say. Those who want something more challenging than VT3 and were unhappy with the overly-real approach of TS3 should definitely try this one out. The game plays pretty similar to the actual action and I hope the developers build on this in the future as this is a promising direction for the franchise.