Top Spin 3 - hands-on

Even the friggin’ shirts have been allotted their own physics, as we witnessed them flow with breezes, contort to body types, and gradually accumulate clay dust and sweat stains. And the customization is by no means limited to the authentically branded Nike, Adidas, etc., branded clothing and equipment.

Top Spin 3’s also bringing an incredibly dense selection of character features to create - and we’re not talking any mere slider bar. The face options alone give you numerous points of articulation to adjust and bend at will (via white balls that look a lot like a pre-Gollum Andy Serkis). Detail in hair and tattoos borders on ridiculous, plus you’re allotted a myriad of swing styles and personalized character animations to affix at will. You can even choose your grunt type. We were very partial to “GAAAH!”

Of course, you can take your created character through the single-player tournament, progressing through real-world titles and over 40 recreated courts (including a nifty one built on a giant, shark-filled aquarium!) You’ll build your stats offline, which you can apply to your liking, although you won’t be able to max out someone in every area. Take care to level up to your strengths, because prolonged matches result in fatigue (presented in onscreen EKG meter, pre-serve) that dramatically impacts performance on both sides. Training will help boost your stamina, but leveling your attributes in accordance with your personal court strategy will help you finish off stronger opponents earlier. Best of all, you’ll be able to take every bit of your creation online to swing it out with up to four players.

For those keeping count, Top Spin 3’s serving up plenty characters, customization, and courts, as well as honed gameplay that’s equally affected by swing type, position, timing and momentum. Phew! It’s anything but “me-too” casual romp around the clay. Top Spin fans look to be in for a treat, as the game has taken many a measure to immerse you in the world of a true racket warrior, in addition to being prettier than all get out. The game hits PS3 and 360 June 24th, and we’ll be there with shorts on.

May 5, 2008