A challenging game that successfully pays off.
I chose to do the training drills at the Top Spin Academy before playing any sort of match. I believe this helped a bit. The general focus is on getting the different types of shots down.
In Top Spin4 you have three different ways of shooting 1) Normal Shot, 2) Power Shot, and 3) Control Shot. To pull off a normal shot you hold the button down and release at the right time. A power shot follows the same method you just hold down longer to where the orb is full and glowing. To pull off a control shot you quickly press the button at the right time, sounds easy but it's one of the more difficult hits to pull off. Everything comes down to timing in the game. Getting to the shot, pressing, and releasing the buttons at the right moment. The types of shots you have are 1) Flat shots, 2) Top Spin Shots, 3) Slice Shot, and 4) Lobs. Once you learn how to use your shot selection you'll feel greatly immersed in the game. It feels good when you actually feel like you're controlling your character/player's every movement and motion, especially when you're in a long and challenging match. Being in long rallies is exciting, and you'll feel great whether you win or lose the point.
The game has excellent graphics and sound. The stadiums and courts are beautiful and there's a large selection of locations. However, Wimbledon has been left out for some reason. The players movements look natural, the ambient sounds are great. The court umpires sound decent except for the English speaking umpires you'll get that sound like RoboCop.
You have your exhibition mode and season mode. Exhibition is a single or multiplayer match mode. You can choose a singles or doubles match. Also, you can choose how the match will be played, classic mode, top spin mode, etc.
The season mode is where you'll probably spend most of your time. The character creation is fairly deep. You won't have to worry about not creating an original looking character.
You'll be able to play in a multitude of real tournaments and championships. You have to earn your way to the top. For instance, you won't be able to take part in any grand slam tourneys until you've reached star status. You gain status primarily by winning tourneys and gaining fans. Throughout each season
You'll be able to take part in events that will gain you xp or fans, or both. After gaining xp you can upgrade your players attributes. You will be able to do this up to lvl 20, after that you're stuck with the player attributes you've chosen. You can, however, change your coach at anytime. This will allow certain attributes to be amplified, all depending on the coach you choose.
You have four spaces for separate custom characters.
Some gripes with the season mode include.
The higher ranked pro roster players will always win over the game created players. This is really annoying, because it's unrealistic and every now and then I'd like to see someone else in a final other than Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, and so on. I wouldn't mind if a Top Spin generic player broke through once and a while.
One player may be easily beat in one tourney but will absolutely murder you in a slam. That's about it as far as gripes go.
Unfortunately I can't speak on the online modes because I haven't played through them enough yet. I can say you can use your created player in online tourneys and other vs. and party modes.
If your tennis fan you need this game. I would recommend it to any sports gamer and casual player as well. Don't be intimidated by the initial difficulty.