Tennis Masters Series 2003
Score: 6.8 / 10
the menís game has become a little dim in the way of star power, Iíve
always been a fan of professional tennis.
I especially enjoy the Tennis Masters Series because for years
now they have made a stop in my backyard (Cincinnati) making it easy to
see the best players the menís game has to offer.
For that reason, I was very excited when Sega released Virtua
Tennis back in the day in the arcade and for the then soon-to-be-doomed
Dreamcast. It was the first
tennis game that really captured the fun and strategy of the game, plus
it was loaded with so many extras and options that it had the same kind
of bang for the buck of the usually more feature-rich sports games like
basketball and football. So, with those fond memories in my mind, I had
high hopes that Microidsí Tennis Masters Series 2003 for the PC would
hold similar appeal. Early
screen shots and even the sparse demo that was available had me thinking
TMS 2003 could be a sleeper hit. I
was wrong. Though fairly
sharp graphically, TMS 2003 simply has too many shortcomings too demand
much time on my PC.
place the game doesnít come up short is in the graphics department.
TMS 2003 is a sharp looking game with plenty of polygons devoted
to the players on the court. The
lighting, though not particularly dynamic, is well-done nonetheless.
The different surfaces of the courts look way too pristine and
donít tarnish noticeably as the tournaments progress, but the stadiums
are well modeled and nice to look at.
Overall, though not as smooth as Virtua Tennis, TMS 2003 is a
slightly prettier game.
far as game modes go, TMS 2003 sports a pretty basic assortment.
At start up, players can choose between Season, Career, and
Exhibition modes. These are
all exactly what most players would expect.
Only the Exhibition mode gives players any control of how the
matches are set up beyond difficulty level and naming and designing
their player. The dearth of
modes and options leaves the game rating pretty low on the replay meter,
which isnít that big of a problem since I canít imagine too many
players begging for more in the first place.
The real problem with the game is the gameplay itself. After experiencing the smooth game play of Virtua Tennis and its sequels, it is hard to take the stuttery, pre-programmed flow of TMS 2003 seriously. The character on screen responds to the controls as if he was taking a moment to consider whether it is the right move or not. Much of the problem is that the game stubbornly refuses to interrupt the character
animation, so a player is constantly waiting for
an animation routine to finish so he or she can enter the next move.
Often, the point is lost through no fault of the player.
The on screen characters simply remain one step behind the
playerís key presses. Now,
this doesnít make the game unduly hard because even on the highest
difficulty setting the A.I. is susceptible to a number of money plays.
This means players will find themselves having to avoid certain
strategies in order to coax the game into a close match.
I stormed through the game on the highest difficulty following a
simple strategy (make deep, hard serves and go to the net on every first
serve), and I lost only a couple of sets in my entire career ó this
after playing maybe three practice games on the demo while waiting for
the review copy to arrive in the mail.
Given the low level of challenge and the limited number of game modes, itís hard to believe that TMS 2003 is the answer to any PC tennis fanís dreams. Still, it is a pretty good-looking game and it does a decent job simulating the different aspects of the menís game, so at least itís better than Pong.
- Tolen Dante
(March 22, 2003)
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