| By Michael Sarro

I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a true “gamer,” but when it comes to sports video games, I am highly experienced, yet I have rarely played tennis games in the past few years, especially on next-generation consoles (Microsoft’s XBOX 360, PlayStation 3 or Nintendo’s Wii). I am not sure if this is due to the lack of good games available on the market , or my love for other sports games, but Top Spin 4 from 2K Sports is not only worth the time, but it is worth the buy.

My favorite mode of play in any sport game is the career mode. I have the most fun playing against the computer on the highest level of difficulty and improving with a player or team for years to come. In this day and age, many people play online against others around the world in online or live modes. Top Spin 4 allows you to do both. You can play online in the “World Tour Mode” which lets you play against other people with either their own created player or one of the many past and present tennis stars in the game. Or, you could create a character from scratch and bring that character up from the bottom of the rankings and your career progresses.

The Career Mode is where the game really excels. It is very in-depth and you can even create a player to look almost identical to yourself with advanced facial and body modulations. After spending about 30 min., trying to get my character to look like me, I started my tennis career. Like any impatient gamer, I skipped the tutorials and went straight to game play after briefing over the control manual. At first, the game was slightly and frustrating, as I was having trouble aiming and my shots were lacking "umph.” But, I quickly caught on after that and the game play picked up quite a bit.

The graphics and overall game play were good. The crowds ooh’s and aah’s, add to the atmosphere as does the player’s emotions after good or bad shots. All of the major courts and stadiums are available with the exception of Wimbledon, but there still is a grass major called the Dublin Open which you are to assume is Wimbledon.
After not playing a tennis video game for several years, I thoroughly enjoyed playing Top Spin 4 by 2K Sports and will continue to advance my character’s career in the game, hoping to play in the major tournaments soon. The only complaint I have with the game is that there is not much of a soundtrack and the music in the game becomes repetitive. Other than that, it was hard to find a flaw.

Tennis video games have come a long way since the original “Pong” came out and there is no better example of this than with Top Spin 4. If you are a fan of tennis and video games, then this game is a definite buy.