Ok, I hadn't written a post for a long time, because when I have time, I work on TEM2 (or other little things). Before I used to write the posts the afternoon, but now I'm very often busy with my baby during that time...
Anyway, 2 weeks ago I started a heavy medical treatment which destroyed my tummy so I wasn't able to work on creative stuff (still managed to fix bugs and add a couple of small requested features
), so I spent a few hours playing Top Spin 4 instead.
Lately, with the release of concurrent games, I read many times, both from journalists & users, that Top Spin 4
was the pinnacle of tennis games, and a great simulation. So after many years, I finally made the jump and tested it thoroughly."In tennis, timing is everything"... Whaaat ?
When you start TS4 training mode, you read : "In tennis, timing is everything".
No, it's not. Nadal & Federer aren't the best players because their timing is the best. Did you ever hear that ? No ! It's because they have phenomenal technical skills and mastering of their shot making decisions (ie: do the right type of strikes in the right situation), plus an incredible mental for Nadal, and an incredible consistency for Federer.
A good timing ( = hitting the ball at the correct time) is not a cause, but a consequence : it's the consequence of a good positioning, not rushed preparation, and a body coordination learned from thousands of hours of training (it's called muscle memory).
By inverting the process and making timing the cause, by asking the user to press the button at the "correct time", TS4 (and many other games) fails totally at representing what tennis is about.
On a real court, any decent club player won't have an issue with hitting the ball at the correct time if he's not rushed nor badly positioned.
Being late on the ball means you're late and rushed, not that you mistimed.
Being early on the ball means you hit the ball during its ascending phase because you stand closer to the bounce, but you still hit at the correct time according to that special positioning.
Tennis is not a rhythm nor timing game. It's a technical, physical, mental and strategic game. Failing to see that and thinking that it's only, or mostly, swinging the racket at the correct time is missing an extraordinary game and sport..!Gravity called, but no one answered
Overall, ball physics is completely off, with ball speeds way under real life, nearly no air resistance, and strange low-gravity overall feelings.
Difference between topspin and flat strikes aren't obvious in term of spin, it feels more like the gravity changes ; and slice is incredibly effective.
The gold medal of the worst physics goes to the sliced serve : it looks like someone mounted a small reactor on the ball and that it changes direction whenever it feels like it.Mistimed
Earlier, I said that TS4 asks you to press the button at the "correct time". And actually, even on that, it fails at delivering a realistic approach. If there's a correct time, it's not to start the whole swing (backward + forward), but only the forward one. Because the backward one can be started very early (or even very late for the pros) and thus you'll slow down or speed up during that strike preparation, without real consequences on the strike itself (except if you're really too rushed).
So in TS4 you have to hit the button way before the "trigger" time of what happens on a real court (ie: the time you start to accelerate your racket forward), and thus we often have to press the button even before the ball bounces.
Moreover, our player often moves by himself after the "correct time" has passed, actually changing what that "correct time" should have been, and thus you're stuck with a bad timing that isn't your fault.
Not only that, our player also takes the ball very low, even on high bouncing balls, making the timing completely irrealistic.
All that shows that the "correct time" idea is garbage if you want to play realistic tennis. (I guess it's ok for people enjoying rhythm games, though)
In TS4, when you release the button too early, you strike will very often go near the center of the opposite court. As a decent tennis club player, I can tell you it's something that nearly never happens. Either the ball is hit correctly and goes where it should go at worst by a +/-3° margin (which already gives a +/-1m precision at 20m) ; or it's not hit cleanly and it goes banana, but surely not nicely to the middle of the court. In TS4, it's like we have a magnet which pulls the ball to the center.In Top Spin, the topspin sucks
Other little things, showing this is not a simulation.
I started to play with only the topspin button, thinking, hey that's modern tennis strikes since Borg (1971, 47 years ago) till Nadal & Federer, so I'd put my opponent on the defense and get relatively easy balls. How f*ucking wrong I was. After a couple hours of suffering and having difficulty to win, I decided to try to switch to the flat strike and there I almost didn't lose a point anymore and had to rack up the difficulty level (from Normal to Hard at that point).
We are literally glued to the court ; very often after a strike your player can't move for a while ; same for the AI, which often leads to a situation where you and the AI can move only after the opponent has struck the ball again.
Coz of that glue, returning a 150km/h serve on the line is titanic task (on a real court, I'd have my racket on it quite often), and running left/right proves to be a nightmarish challenge.
To hit a powerful strike, you have to prepare very early, and thus you're best to just press the button before your opponent hits his next strike. It's just much more effective than reading your opponent strike and decide what to do consequently. This means shot selection isn't done according to your opponent strike. It's totally anti-tennis.
Strike efficiency feels very often rigged to their timing, not their actual speed and direction ; ie: the CPU can reach very hard balls struck with a wrong timing, but will let go similar balls struck with a good timing. Freaking awful.Gameplay is king ?
Gameplay wise, the game is ok, and probably can be nice if you don't really know tennis and thus don't have to constantly fight your tennis instincts. However, I managed to beat the game on Super Hard while playing like an *ss, waiting for the perfect timed strike. If I'm lucky and put enough of them, game gets super easy ; if I start to think about something else or my eyes get tired and I mistime too often, game gets impossible to play as the opponents put the ball in the corners and our player is slower than a glued turtle.Game design fails
This part isn't about realism, but about little other things :
- there's no cup when we win a tournament ; TS4 budget was at least 100 times bigger than TE2013, but they didn't manage to get a single cup, even not in 2D ; you only get a poor screen with the tournament logo when you win a tournament
Horribly slow stuff :
- the saving function takes ages (vs 0.5 seconds on TE2013 while saving at least 100 times more stuff)
- the autosave pops way too often and can trigger between 2 screens for no reason
- navigating the menus constantly brings a "loading please wait" for loading a basic layout ; ie: there's no 3D models, no HD textures change ; it needs several seconds to load only a menu layout
- Stopwatch in hands, it requires at least 3 minutes to start to play a match in TS4, vs 20 seconds in TE2013 (or a bit more if you have a Mod with many HD textures for the menus in the wrong format)
- during matches, there are constantly cutscenes that require several seconds to stop when pressing the button frenetically
All that makes you feel you spend more time waiting than playing when you start the game... Final words
With a wheel, pedals and gear, a car simulation can approach a 1:1 simulation level (you'll mostly just miss feeling the acceleration in your head and body). In a tennis game, without actually running nor handling a racket touching a real ball, you can't have a nearly 1:1 simulation. So you have to make sacrifices, it's obvious ; TE2013 is full of them. But if you can't get any realistic bases, it's sure the overall result will be irrealistic, even with mocap anims.
When I play a tennis game, I'm expecting to incarnate a player who is better than my real-self on a real court. Compared to Federer, I'm just a minuscule grasshopper, but even so, I'm able to keep the ball in the court, hit the ball in the direction I want on a constant basis. In real life, these are not struggles for good club players when they are not rushed by their opponent, but it is in TS4 with supposed top tennis players, even more on easy balls as their timing is different than normal ones. Huge, pathetic, immense fail at being a simulation.
So to conclude, if you're really into tennis, calling TS4 a simulation is an insult to the beauty of the game and sport tennis is.
All in all, in term of simulation, I'd give TS4 a 2/10. For comparison, I'd give 1/10 to Virtua Tennis 3 (not 0 coz court dimensions are ok, and there's no rocket launcher
), TS3 2.5/10 (it was only slightly better than TS4), and TE2013 6.5/10. I'm aiming for at least 7.5/10 on TE4 (it might be almost easy to reach that coz I just need to remove the irrealistic constraints I put in at 1st when I started to work on TE2009
That's all for today.
My treatment being over, I hope I'll feel better fast enough and get back to serious stuff..!
PS: you still can comment here => http://www.managames.com/Forum/viewtopi ... 05#p251105