Tennis is one of those overlooked games on the 360. It is not one of the main 4 American sports, and nor is it football. That seems to mean that it isn't given regular updates. Some people don't mind this, as they know that when the latest version comes out, they should be in-line for a spectaular update. However, after a less than impressive Top Spin 2, have 2K Sports been able to reclaim their place at the top of the pile from Sega’s Virtua Tennis? We were lucky to be in on a call with Anthony DeLuca, Top Spin 3 Producer and Chase from Access. Anthony was asked a series of questions by Chase, which can be found below.
The first area that was touched on was the online play, a subject close to my heart. My favourite feature of the original Top Spin game was the ranked Online Doubles- myself and a mate spent countless hours breaking into the Top 10 in the world. Like a lot of people, I was disappointed with the exclusion of this mode in Top Spin 2. And it looks like that disappointment will continue- Ranked Online Doubles will NOT be in Top Spin 3. Also, the online mode will only support 2 consoles- not the 4 that was hoped for. This was put down to lag issues with precision and timing – which can surely be overcome when you can get 16 players in a FPS lobby? Anyway, the online mode will feature heavily around the new tournament mode – World Tour Mode. Players will enter a tournament, and get drawn against a random player. If you beat that player, you move on to the next round, and so on until the final two stand a fortnight later. The leaderboards will be reset at the end of the tournaments, so people will always have a chance to get the Number One spot. This has the potential to be great, and most people will surely love the feature. However, there will always be a part of me mourning the loss of the doubles. It was just FUN! Please take note 2K….please! The plus side is that they have confirmed DLC will be available for the game, from players through to equipment and the like. Anyway, onto the rest of the questions:
What can you tell us about the situations with different behaviours? How do they work and what was the thought process behind these?
We went for a lot of different animations with the players, depending on where you are on the court and what your abilities are. Knowing your character, knowing your court, and knowing what you can and can’t do are definitely more important in this game. The odds of Federer running across the court and hitting a winner down the line are far more likely than a guy ranked 200th in the world.
You’re using the right analogue stick for serves, which is a great new mechanic. Will the option to go back to the original method be there for newcomers to the game who may struggle with this?
Definitely. Just pressing the A button and using the left analogue stick will still work. But for those who want to make the more of the serve- say someone using Roddick, you actually pull down on the right analogue stick and then you toss the ball up, and then you jam up on the stick. The harder and faster you do this the more power you get on the shot and you actually get a lot more control on the shot.
So what is your favourite Achievement on the game?
I think theres two that are really cool. The first is just the naming- Tennis Elbow. You lose your first Xbox Live match and you have no wins, you have Tennis Elbow. But then if you win your first match, and you have no loses, you are a Tennis Teacher.
What do you think fans of the series are going to enjoy most about Top Spin 3?
I think the whole new animations and look of the game is great. With the crowd and the look of the players, it’s like being there. Then also the control is also really fun, and once you’ve got the hang of the mechanics it just feels so natural.
You said you actually asked the players when you were making their animations what their main characteristics were and how they reacted etc. Did happen to ask players that play against them on the tour in real life what they thought?
Oh absolutely. Despite the fact that they are rivals on the court, they are all very open minded and get along great off the court. SO you can have someone sit down and watch the game and give completely open and honest feedback, and tell you about the look or the talk. They were very cool people to work with. Federer, Blake and Sharopova were great fun.
In Top Spin 2 there weren’t any replay functions. Is there going to be that option in Top Spin 3?
Yes. After every point, or even a match, there’s going to be an icon flashing on the corner of the screen. So it’s up to you, if you want to watch the replay it will replay the last point. You can change the camera angle and make it more interactive as well.
Is Nadal still a PS3 exclusive? If so, how come?
Yes, Nadal is still a PS3 exclusive. The reason for that is because he had a deal with Sony prior to signing up for Top Spin 3, and obviously the PS3 is a Sony console, so we had to honour that agreement.
This was the majority of the questions that were relevant to the 360- a lot of them were about the Wii, which sounds like it’s going to be great fun- a lot more variation than Wii Sports Tennis. However, back to the 360….
This is a game that looks amazing from the videos and screenshots that have been released so far. The improved mechanics look like they will be a great addition as well – something to reward the players that are willing to put the time and effort in to master. Hopefully this means that the skill gap between a seasoned player and a novice will be even greater. With the online ranking system, this should mean that everyone gets pushed to the limit online. Yes, I still have a slight sense of disappointment about the Online Doubles, but that may just be me. I’m sure that this overhaul will blow people away. Remember, this is the first proper ‘Next-Gen’ version of the game. Dare I say, don’t let Top Spin 2 put you off. Let this one make you fall back in love with the game. The King of the Tennis world is coming to take back his crown from Virtua Tennis, and doing it with some style from what I can tell.
Thanks to Anthony and to Chase for the call. See the rest of you on courts from late June.