It’s probably sacrilege to say it, but some time in the 2000s, Sega lost its tennis-game crown; Virtua Tennis 3 was an impressive if predictable update, but its sequel was finally eclipsed by the lurking Top Spin series.
In Top Spin 4, the deep coaching system hugely added to the extensive career mode, and the character customisation went so far as to enable you to select different types of grunts and victory celebrations. It was perhaps all a little clinical (besides the bizarre uncanny valley player faces), but fluid player movement, balanced gameplay and detailed, responsive controls combined to make for a rewarding experience for those who persevered.
Despite the machinations of EA’s Grand Slam Tennis 2 and its impressive feature set, the six-year-old Top Spin title looks set to top the rankings for some time to come – not least because bizarrely for such a major sport, there aren’t currently any tennis games actually available for PS4 or Xbox One, bar the remastered 2007 PS2 game Hot Shots Tennis.
That could finally change next year, with the news that a game called Tennis World Tour, billed as “spiritual successor to the Top Spin franchise” is being readied for a 2018 release.
Until then, we’ll just have to content ourselves with watching the real thing. Come on, Andy!