Over 2 years have passed since Top Spin last graced our TV screens and this time the latest outing, Top Spin 2 has made it on to the Xbox360. So should we rejoice at its return, or wonder why it's made its way back to your computer screens?



Sometimes you just have to get the bad out of the way first. In the case of Top Spin 2 that means you've got to be prepared for plenty of load screens and more annoyingly for those load screens to load, load, and then load some more. Just like an old Spectrum +2 loading from tape the game takes an age between matches and training sessions. This is noticed even more so when some training sessions last seconds rather than minutes.

Right now we've got that off our chests lets talk about what there is to like about Top Spin 2.

For starters this being a Xbox360 outing the graphics are pretty impressive. From the individual courts, the strands of grass at Wimbledon or the characters as they get agitated over the play it all looks pretty luscious.

Get past the graphics and the gameplay is tough, but masterable. There are four different types of shot you can play including the usual lob, smash, slice and backhand and these all have the ability to play safe or take a risk option. The risk option of course doesn't always work, but has a better chance of sailing past your opponent.

It's at this point that you'll realise that there is an awful lot to master in Top Spin 2, we've been playing it for the best part of 20 hours now and are still getting frustrated when we try to be a bit creative and it fails.

Gamers looking for a quick fix can opt to battle it out in an exhibition match either singles or doubles and of course the doubles match offers the chance to play against three other human players at the same time. Alternatively you can opt for Tournament mode which gives you a bit more longevity over a single match.

The main crux of the game however is the Career mode and this offers you the chance to take a player from rank 200 to number one. As you can imagine this is no overnight task and if you're serious we would expect this to take you some time.

Starting the game with 200,000 credits you can spend this money on training, which then adds points to your skill set such as Focus or Stamina to more standard skills such as Service and Backhand.

More money is earned by getting sponsors and winning matches and just like in the real world you can even fire your trainer if you feel you don't like his or her style.

Verdict

Top Spin 2 is a mammoth of a tennis game giving you plenty to mull over. If you're looking for some pick up and play action, it's got it. If you are looking for something a little more in depth, it's got that too. You can even challenge other like minded people over via the Xbox Live service.



So what's the catch? Those long load screens.

There is a lot to master in Top Spin 2, but once you get past this learning curve the game will keep you going for months.