Tennis games in general aren't very realistic. No one has really taken a crack with a license for quite some time and perhaps it's because of the Virtua Tennis factor. VT is still seen as the best game for tennis despite the fact it has no realism whatsoever in it other than a few licensed players. Outlaw Tennis works on this particular setting as well with arcade physics, pick up and play gameplay and generally everything you wouldn't see in a simulation tennis game.
Outlaw Tennis takes the sport of tennis and makes it a redneck paradise with crazy characters, new game modes and generally just the complete opposite to what a proper tennis game would have. As well as introducing new game modes, it does keep some rules from tennis such as doubles and singles but uses the traditional rules of tennis to create modes. This is either going to be a love or loathe aspect for you, and it's seemingly impossible to avoid considering the tour mode uses it.
On any difficulty level other than amateur the game is rather hard to play at first and this is because the characters are not built up initially and you have to unlock them as well as gain stats in the tour mode. Even in the exhibition mode they aren't built up which is a bit of a shame and knocks the 'pick up and play' aspect of the game quite a bit. However the actual game is very much like a mix between Top Spin and Virtua Tennis in both physics and animation. In fact it wouldn't surprise us if the Top Spin engine was somewhat used with the game now that Take 2 owns the engine.
The other game modes revolve around other sports and change the rules of tennis to suit. For instance in the football game mode, the more you hit the ball the more yardage you gain to get a touchdown, in the baseball mode, the longer the rally, the longer the run. These seem to work quite well and fit the game quite well. There is also other mini games based on pinball etc and these also work quite well. The mini games don't detract from the game at all and in fact make it a better game especially for casual gamers who may get a bit bored by the professional tennis games.
The characters and levels of the game again move the away from realism with models based around just about any stereotype available with rather revealing clothing. There is also some borderline 'stolen' characters from other games such as the character imitating Sub Zero from Mortal Kombat. As you progress through the game you will unlock not only new stats for the characters, but new clothes and courts, tournaments etc. The characters fight each other as well which can help and throws yet another perspective on an already crazy game.
The courts range from realistic clay style courts through to weird places such as an Aircraft Carrier. Again this aids with making the game not so cliche and boring but overall the game feels like the matches go on a little long. The sets are usually best of three games and the matches best of three sets but the surrounds of the game makes it feel they should end quicker. The visuals carry the game quite well with nice colourful graphics with cartoon style.
Outlaw Tennis is a game that can be played by Tennis fans as well as the casual gamers due to its pick up and play nature and various game modes on offer. It's still not the tennis game we've been waiting for since Virtua Tennis but it's sort of on the way.
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