Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Indie Game Review - Full Ace Tennis

Tennis game developers always have a bit of a dilemma on their hands - do they go for an arcade game that lacks realism but is easy to play (not necessarily easy to beat), or do they go for a simulation that will require a lot more practice to play but be a more authentic experience?  French indie developers Galactic Gaming Guild have opted for a game that leans more to the latter.  It's an interesting contrast to another indie tennis title, New Star Tennis, which offers arcade-style game play along with a training management section; Full Ace Tennis is purely about playing the game.  Whether you're training, playing an exhibition match or tackling a full season,  in the end it all comes down to how well you can use your racquet - well, keyboard in this case.

The first thing you'll notice about Full Ace Tennis is that the menus and in-game graphics are beautifully presented.  Though the close-ups of players between games don't look as good because they lack detail, in playing the game they look fine and have smooth animation.  The sound effects and music are likewise high quality.  

Another thing you'll notice is that this isn't really the sort of game that you can just pick up and play - there's an extensive tutorial mode and believe me, you'll probably need all of it.  There are quite a few keys to keep track of as well as a shot aiming system that takes a while to figure out properly.  The main feature that stands out though, which at the same time adds a whole new level of realism but adds quite a bit of difficulty, is that the game expects you to not only position yourself correctly for each shot and time it right, but to select forehand or backhand prior to every shot.  You get the hang of this after a while but initially it's rather a lot to keep track of.  It does, however, give the game a more realistic feel than any other tennis game I've played.

It's going to take you quite a long time to win your first point in a game, let alone your first match (unless I was particularly bad at the game and it's actually much easier than I found it?!); however one of the results of the controls being tricky to begin with is that when you do actually pull off that winning forehand smash or judge that cheeky little drop shot just right, it's really rewarding.  Full Ace Tennis is definitely a game that takes a lot of practice, but persevere and you'll find it a good game.  It helps if you like tennis to begin with, of course.

There are other nice features such as a character editor and some different game modes, so for tennis fans there's definitely a lot of scope for experimenting with the game.  Once you buy the game that's not the end of the story - you get free updates as the game is enhanced further.  In particular a feature that many people will be interested in, which at the time of writing is in advanced beta testing, is the online multiplayer mode.

Overall Full Ace Tennis is a good sports sim; perhaps not a game that will appeal to casual gamers, but if you like sports games and love a good challenge, this could well be for you.  While it's a good game as it stands now, with the constant development that's going on by Galactic Guild Gaming, it has the potential to be a truly great game in the not too distant future.

My rating: 7/10

You can get more information, download the demo or buy the full game (15 euros) at:

http://www.fullacetennis.com/


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