Amstrad Action


International 3D Tennis

Author: Trenton Webb
Publisher: Empire
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #59

International 3D Tennis

Forget strawberries, forget Dan Maskell, this is tennis like you've never seen it before. This is International 3D Tennis, with the emphasis heavily on Tennis first, the 3D second and the International bit following up way behind.

The first thing that hits a wannabe Lendl is the look of the game. It's weird! The pipe-cleaner men have attacked and taken over Wimbledon. The reason for this is in the game's name: 3D. The gameplay is based on the the behaviour of the ball as actually happens on court, so the players and the pretties have to come second.

The options on offer for a player are numerous indeed. You can play on every surface from carpet to grass and go from practice to a whole season of ball bashing. But then virtually every tennis sim ever has had these features - what's different is the amount of control you have when the games on.

International 3D Tennis

On court, the flexibility of the 3D system comes into its own. Players have a choice of four different skill levels which affect the way the game's actually played. Beginning on Amateur, you don't have to move the man and when the ball's in range he flashes to give a subtle hint that it might be a good idea to hit it. With the CPC lining you for the return shots, you know that the play will be good if you can time the strike right and put the ball in the right place.

The position of the joystick determines where the shot will go. The court is divided into nine imaginary sections and pushing the stick in the correct direction makes it head away from your opponent, leaving him no chance of returning the shot. In fact, apart from this, all you can do on Am' level is control how close to the net you want to be.

On Semi-Pro and Pro level the you also get the benefit of "Supaserve". This little number helps you drop the ball in awkward places on court while serving, thus making life particularly hard even for the computer players. Life gets a tinsy bit trickier for the Pros, though, because now you have to choose when you want to hit the ball. The player no longer flashes, but you're supposed to be skilful enough now to know when all by yourself.

International 3D Tennis

The final leap is to Tennis Ace. Now the fun really begins and International 3D Tennis really comes into its own with the option of laying some serious spin on the sphere. Pressing the stick after the ball has been hit gives you control over the bounce when it hits the ground. Press the Fire button a second time and press forward for top spin giving the ball fast, low bounce, or pull back for back spin and some unexpected high slow bounce. Now you've the abilities, all you need is match practice.

All very nice, you may think, but how does it play? Initially the stick men are off-putting but eventually start to look normal, as you get to grips with the complexities of modern tennis. Once you've gained a basic grasp of the game's parameters then you can get cracking on the tennis itself. Luckily, it's easy to learn; in no time you'll get the feel of how to wrong-foot the other guy, how to out-spin him and how to serve up ace after ace. That is, of course, until you get to the tournament or the season, when as if by magic the players suddenly get a little more competitive.

International 3D Tennis is a novel approach to a game which has been done to death already on the home micros. The use of 3D is not only unusual but effective, allowing much greater control than is normally seen with filled sprites. It makes winning more dependent on skill and less on luck - a very good thing. The graphics, however, are the weak spot of the game.

International 3D Tennis

Understandably limited by the format, the sprites still look like refugees from an earlier (stone) age of gaming. Everything else, however, is so well done that you can almost forgive them.

If you want a tennis simulator and not a tennis imitator then this is the one for you - especially if reality and not pretty sprites are your bag. There's subtle gameplay by the lorry load.

As a package, however, the same old problem rears its head time and time again - it just doesn't look good. It's certainly clever, but it ain't pretty to watch.

Second Opinion

International 3D Tennis

Totally weird. Get past the wireframe sprites, though, and then tennis itself is excellent. Easy at the lowest level, very tough at the highest, it should give every gamer a run for their money.

First Day Target Score

Win a match.

Green Screen View

No loss of vision.

Verdict

International 3D Tennis

Graphics 78%
P. Stunning clever 3D with multiple views.
N. Awkward to watch.

Sonics 77%
P. Isn't the the Beeb's tennis jingle?

Grab Factor 61%
N. Off-putting pics.
P. Almost too real, but the CPC helps out.

Staying Power 89%
P. There's so much subtlety to the game.
P. It'll take months to become a real ace.

Overall 81%
The most realistic tennis sim ever.

Trenton Webb

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