Saturday, May 20, 2006

Review: Tennis 2K2 (Dreamcast)


Platform: Dreamcast
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Release: October 2001
Genre: Sports (Tennis)
Also Known As: Virtua Tennis 2 (Europe and in North American arcades)
Tennis 2K2 is arguably the best-playing tennis of all time and definitely the greatest sports title to ever hit the Dreamcast.

Before the original Virtua Tennis hit the arcade scene years ago, tennis fans were stuck between a rock and a hard place when it came to choosing games based on their favorite sport. Abysmal, low-budget tennis titles that were seemingly thrown together on a few weekends dominated the majority of the genre while every once in awhile a mediocre tennis game would be released. Finally, Sega’s top-notch sports classic Virtua Tennis changed all that, resulting in a game that would appeal to the average gamer as much as hardcore fans of the sport. Now, Tennis 2K2 improves on its predecessor in many key ways, resulting in yet another sublime tennis experience.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock your whole life, you most likely know the basic procedures of tennis. You hit the ball back and fourth until someone scores. Simple enough, right? On paper, this may sound extremely boring and limited, sort of like… Pong, right? Well, not quite! The speed and power of the racket hitting the ball is phenomenal in Tennis 2K2. Hitting the ball just feels right, and different ways to serve up and hit the yellow ball add up to an enjoyable game play experience.

However, even though the game play is great, just like any sports title, it’s going to need more than that to stand on its two legs. Fortunately, the three game play modes found in this game add serious replay value to Tennis 2K2. The meat of the game, ‘World Tour Mode’, finds you leveling up two different custom characters (male and female, respectively), role-playing style. Instead of boring, repetitive battles, however, you up your stats through intriguing and fun mini-games. Although it would have been nice to see a few more mini-games added to the mix, the ones included excel in sheer variety. Whether you’re knocking over bowling pins using a tennis racket and a ball or fighting a tank with your same two “weapons”, it all works out wonderfully.

The other standard two modes, ‘Exhibition’ and ‘Tournament’ are simpler in design and won’t hold your interest nearly as long as the excellent ‘World Tour Mode’, unless you’re playing with another human. In that case, you’ll spend hours playing heated match ups with your friend (or rival), which may result in a case of you wanting to whack the person next to you with a tennis racket in real life as they trash talk.

Graphically, Tennis 2K2 wouldn’t look out of place on the Playstation 2. The character models and faces are well done, and there is even some impressive lighting to be found. The real world courses are well-designed, too.

This sequel also hosts some key-improvements over the original, such as improved A.I.(the computer players are now sharper and somewhat more difficult to before, resulting in better matches), the ‘World Tour Mode’ (as mentioned earlier in this review), and a solid amount of new tennis stars. Tennis 2K2’s roster also includes players of the female variety this time around too, including Williams sisters, who (thankfully!) aren’t as difficult to play in this game as they would be in real life.

The sound effects are also great. Never before has the sound of a ball hitting the racket sounded so good, and the music found in Tennis 2K2 is decent and fitting for this type of game.

It isn’t very often that a tennis game captivates average gamers this well, and Tennis 2K2 sits right up there in the ranks with titles like Mario Tennis (N64) that will appeal to normal gamers as much as hardcore tennis fans. Tennis 2K2 is arguably the best-playing tennis of all time and definitely the greatest sports title to ever hit the Dreamcast.

Rating: 9.2 (out of 10)

5 Comments:

At 11:16 AM, Blogger gnome said...

So... Noe even Ross is a part of the ever-expanding, life-consuming Dreamcast cult. Goood.

 
At 6:12 PM, Blogger Tomleecee said...

Great review mate - Tennis 2K (or Virtua Tennis 2 ;-p) is a wicked game. Not only THE best tennis game ever, but one of the best games ever created. Show me ANYTHING on the current consoles as downright enjoyable as T2K2 and I'll eat my own scalp.

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger Ross said...

How about Sega Sports Tennis for Playstation 2? ;-)

 
At 4:38 AM, Blogger Tomleecee said...

I thought of that as soon as I'd written that last comment. D'oh!

 
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