Top Spin 3 Developer Call Recap

Posted May 9th, 2008 at 5:41 am

I was invited to sit in on a conference call with lead producer Anthony DeLuca of 2K Sports’ Top Spin 3 who talked all about the game which is scheduled to release on Tuesday June 24th. This will represent the second game in the franchise to come to the Xbox 360 and the first time it’ll be out on the PS3 and Wii. The general features and improvements of the game were discussed while answering questions that were submitted in advance. Continue on for a recap of the the notes that were taken.

Gameplay was a clear focus and a lot of work went into creating the most realistic tennis experience yet. At the same time it was important for the game to be pick-up-and-play friendly. The achieved both goals by offering a great deal of depth and advancement but at the same time someone can play the game in a simple way if they so choose. The Wii version goes after the casual crowd more than the PS3/360 as that one will have an array of mini-games and utilize the motion controls.

Along with that comes some changes to the controls. While those may take a few minutes to adjust to it sounds as though they’ll be more rewarding. You’ll now be pressing and holding the button to pull back and releasing it to hit your shot. Ultimately the timing of both will be critical. You’ll also be dealing with positioning, momentum, and aiming of the shots.

The graphics have received a significant upgrade with additional enhancements that will immediately be noticed in sound effects (negated the need for commentators) and the environment such as the venues and weather.

Each player has their own signature styles, the animations and abilities that define them in real life. They’ll be unique to each one and you can capitalize on them if you know the players well.

When it comes to putting together the roster it is a more intensive process than the games that have player’s associations. Where they get the license and have all (with the exception of a handful in the MLB) the players available here 2K Sports has to negotiate with each individual player. It was stated that the process went smoother than expected and they were able to sign many of the players they desired. As a note, Rafael Nadal being exclusive to the PS3 is due to a deal Nadal had made with Sony prior to being entered in Top Spin 3. All players will be available to use (no forced unlocking of them).

Online play (not offered with the Wii version) will debut the “World Tour” which is essentially a cycle of two week tournaments and leaderboards. The nice thing is that you can start fresh every two weeks instead of entering the game and realizing you have no shot at reaching the heights that have already been set. Ranked games will be available for singles matches but not doubles and there is no online co-op (framerate and lag were cited as the reasons but that excuse is getting flimsy). Downloadable content will be coming down the line and offering things such as new players, equipment, and clothing.

It’s been a while since I’ve really dug into a tennis game. The potential is there for Top Spin 3 to be a hit if it delivers an interesting and fun career mode and a good experience online with the World Tour.