You'll probably want to pop into the training academy before leaping into Top Spin 4's Career mode. While the game isn't a full-on simulator, there are definitely a few basic tricks you'll want to get your head around before striding into Centre Court.
Much like the early stages of the Career, however, you'll have to wade through a horrendous quantity of text in order to learn the basics. And even though there's certainly a commendable degree of simulation-style depth to Top Spin 4, the game isn't nearly as tough to grasp as these pop-up textplanations seem to suggest.
Shots are easily aimed using the left stick, with the power and accuracy determined by how you press the button. For instance, a simple tap will result in an accurate - and safer - placement of the ball, whereas getting into position ahead of time and holding the button down for longer will see you hitting the ball a lot harder, but with slightly more risk of knocking it out of play.
Timing is vital if you want the extra edge of accuracy and power, but it's far from essential - get into roughly the right place on the court and press a button at some point before the ball gets to you, and you'll hit it regardless of how off your timing was.
Volley volley nice
Jump onto the court then, and it's accessible and entertaining enough to show you a damn good time. But as an overall package, it's unfortunately let down by value-brand menus and a Career mode that feels flat and uninspired.
If you're happy to forgive a lack of frills and plough through the game's training essays, though, you'll not be disappointed by the solid tennis game that 2K Czech has delivered.
Hitting a difficulty sweet spot, Top Spin 4 is deep enough to let you spend hours mastering the perfect volley, but won't turn its nose up at you if you don't fancy anything more than an occasional late-night session of backhanding with Federer. For the sake of the neighbours, though, close the curtains.
Fun to play, but serves up nothing special
- Won't punish newcomers
- Plenty of depth and shots to master
- Optional grunting
- Painfully text-heavy tutorials
- No sign of Wimbledon