Tennis fans have always loved bad boys - though they usually draw the line at actual beatings, wimps that they are. What we’ve got here is a pretty decent tennis game with added “street” or “extreme” bits. In the same way that Outlaw Golf could best be described as Tiger Woods after a night spent with Kid Rock in Vegas, ingesting suspicious substances and trying to choose your favorite lady of the night, Outlaw Tennis is Virtua Tennis if it arrived to the court on a Harley carrying a racket strung with barbed wire.
The graphics are solid (though some among us will maintain that the girls should look “hotter”), and the courts blend the sublime: a soot-caked, torch-lit venue that could be Beelzebub’s basement, and the ridiculous: a court made entirely of ice and snow which makes winning a rally as easy as learning Lebanese over your lunch hour. There are several gameplay variations as well, ranging from moving barriers to exploding tennis balls and beyond. Some work better than others, but it’s definitely not typical tennis.
Of course, this being an Outlaw game, you also get 16 over-the-top characters ranging from an ex-con biker to a stripper, each with customizable clothes, the right to literally beat opponents at times, and silly reactions after every important play - which can thankfully be turned off when you get tired of them after five minutes. The commentary, unfortunately, is there to stay, but it’s easier to tolerate. It’s crude, crass, and makes Beavis and Butthead sound like Shakespeare at times, but it’s tolerable.
Gameplay is a bit odd; OT boasts the best camera views of any tennis game we’ve played, but it’s actually really hard until you get the hang of the various shot types. So, for all its "style over substance" look and attitude, Outlaw Tennis might take you a while to finish. Xbox players also get four-player online action via Xbox LIVE.
If you’re looking for gritty, tactical play and real-world physics, Outlaw Tennis is obviously not the game you’ll want to spend your hard-earned pennies on. Alternatively, if you like your tennis built around irritatingly lowbrow commentary, large breasts, garish looks and lots of beyond-the-norm game variations, this could be worth a shout.