Joseph Rositano
26 Aug, 2008

Top Spin 3 Review

DS Review | Come on!
Last year’s Top Spin 2 DS received mostly negative criticism. The game’s framerate was simply too low, which made it almost unplayable. Top Spin 3 is a major improvement, players move around smoothly and the action often gets very frantic. That said, there are a few things that will deter newcomers to the series.

Top Spin 3 is essentially a buffed-up version of its predecessor. Aside from an improved frame rate, there’s a stronger Career mode, a wider selection of mini-games, and the usual quick play options. On court the controls feel tight and responsive, with each action and shoulder button representing a different type of shot. At any time during a match players can also tap the touch screen to perform a boost manoeuvre, which makes their character’s running speed increase. Unfortunately, the mechanic feels out of place for a realistic tennis game, and the only practical way to utilise it is to press the touch screen with your greasy thumb, not appealing for those of us that suffer OCD.

Career mode acts as the main meat of the game, and has players try to improve their rank amongst the world’s top tennis stars. You’ll begin by creating a character with a few standard customisation options including serve styles, skin tones, and outfit and racket designs. From here, you have to improve your skill levels by completing mini-games. These vary from Serve Sniper which requires players to hit coloured-markers on the court, to Robot Trap where you have to run over switches and trap robots. Each mini-game also has three difficulty levels, but a majority will need to be unlocked by improving your rank, preventing you from maximising your skills prematurely.

The robot mini-game is weird.

The robot mini-game is weird.

There are two other sections within Career mode called Events and Tournaments. Events basically gives players a random task to complete which will either be playing a mini-game, competing in a tournament or simply taking a holiday. By performing well in the respected task, you’ll be rewarded with new outfit and racket designs. Finally, Tournaments is where you increase your rank by beating opponents. There are however tournaments which are only open to players above a certain rank, so there will be times when you won’t be able to compete. This leads us to one of our major grips with Top Spin 3, the AI is extremely difficult. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing for a game to be challenging, Top Spin 3 just doesn’t balance it out with your own skill level. Opponents seem to be able to zip around the court at lightning speeds, and despite only just reaching the ball, they manage to smack it back like it was nothing. This is particularly frustrating in Career mode because your character hasn’t fully developed their attributes, and it also makes unlocking the mini-games daunting.

Fortunately, things are a little more balanced in the quick play modes. This is because instead of using your customised character, you get to play as tennis superstars such as Mark Philippoussis and Roger Federer, who have pre-set skill levels. Again though, AI opponents are tough to beat, so if you’re new to the series you may be put off by the high difficulty. Other elements include the ability to set up tournaments and choose courts from around the world including New York, China and Australia.

Multiplayer support for up to two players also returns, and once again you’ll need to find someone else with a copy of the game to take advantage of this feature. It’s more or less the same as what was on offer in Top Spin 2, though with a better frame rate and a human opponent instead of an AI player, it’s easily Top Spin 3’s strongest point.

Seriously, the AI opponents are tough.

Seriously, the AI opponents are tough.

As we’ve mentioned before, the framerate has been greatly improved, and in most cases matches play out smoothly. Unfortunately, lag does occasionally occur when power shots are made. As a whole, the visuals are very bland and look identical to Top Spin 2’s offerings, it’s time 2K Sports brought the DS Top Spin titles in line with other games available on the system. As for the game’s soundtrack, there are only a few sound effects played in the background during matches and generic rock music played during menu screens. Needless to say, you’ll want to turn down the volume.

While Top Spin 3 isn’t a bad game, it’s more or a less just a revamped version of its predecessor. On the plus side it has an improved frame rate, a decent number of mini-games on offer, as well as a solid multiplayer experience. Unfortunately, the single-player game is hampered by overly difficult AI and lacklustre visuals. Unless you consider yourself a fan of the series, then you need not apply.
The Score
Top Spin 3 features an improved frame rate and enhanced Career mode over last year’s Top Spin 2. Unfortunately, the game’s AI is overly difficult and the visuals are bland. On the plus side, the multiplayer mode is solid, there are a decent number of mini-games on offer, and the controls are easy to pick up. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Top Spin 3 Content

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29 Apr, 2008 Let's settle this on the court.
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17 Aug, 2008 Aced.
Top Spin 3 Review
26 Jun, 2008 Who thought tennis could be so challenging?
1 Comment
5 years ago
Good review but I rate this game higher ....
Actually I enjoyed this more than the Virtua Tennis games on the PSP -
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  27/06/2008 (Confirmed)
  Take 2 Interactive
Year Made:

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