It seems that in the age of "next gen" consoles, games are trying more and more to simulate realism. This is most apparent when it comes to sports games. Since most of these titles take place in a small variety of closed environments, it's much easier spend more of your pixels on other things like sweat and facial animations without skimping on environments. Smash Court Tennis 3 may not have beads of sweat dripping from its players brows, but it makes up for it in other ways like a deep character customisation area and creative playing courts.
Smash Court Tennis 3 differs from many other sports titles in that it runs on an "RPG Lite" system of play, allowing your player to gain experience and add to their collection of skills as they improve their games. It all starts with the character customisation area where you can adjust everything form height, weight and facial features to your characters emotional level. Will you accept your failures with grace or will you throw a McEnroe tantrum and pitch your racket across the court? The choice is yours! But be careful, throw too many tantrums and sponsors won't want to represent you. And unlike some games, the skills and characteristics with which you imbue your character have an effect on how they play they game.
Once your character is created you can enter into a four year career mode that has over 60 different tournaments you can enter into. Throughout your career, real and fictional sponsors will provide you with special rackets and accessories that will add to your skill levels and thus make your character a force to be reckoned with. Sixteen licenced tennis pros also populate the game, giving you an opportunity to play against skilled opponents. These pros are also available as playable characters so you can see what it's like to play as a professional.
The variety of courts to play on are as varied as the characters with fifteen different courts. Some are real places, some are fictionalized versions of real courts and yet even others are completely made up, like the Deep Woods Court. Each one has it's own court surface ranging from dirt to grass. By far my favourite was the Sky Court in Dubai which is suspended by bridges between the tops of three skyscrapers.
I tried out a bit of a two player game and found the controls to be quite easy to master in a short amount of time. simple button presses combined with the directional stick will send your ball flying wherever you want it to go. With a variety of special serves and shots, you'll never find yourself without the right move for the occasion. The graphics looked incredibly sharp and the interface for choosing players was cleverly put together and easy to navigate.
Smash Court tennis 3 looks to be a great game and those into sports games will no doubt find it a stunning entry into the Tennis sim genre. It will be arriving on Xbox 360 later this summer, ready for you to take to the courts and climb your way to the top of the Pro tennis heap.