Real Tennis 2009
Release Date:September 07, 2009
Price:$4.99 (a free version is also available)
Summary:Probably the best iPhone tennis game I've come across. Dazzling and flashy, with instant replays, and decent responsiveness - you may as well be watching tennis on a tv screen.
Yesterday I discussed how much fun bowling can be, but today, I’ve shifted my focus to tennis. Aside from golf, I can’t think of a more uptight, frilly, steeped in aristocratic breeding, white sport than tennis. The sport just oozes British accents and white shorts, polo shirts, matching terry head and wristbands, and an immaculately groomed appearance. Hmm, maybe I’m confusing tennis with polo. That’s tennis’ stereotype anyway, even when contrasted with Serena Williams’ often questionable and revealing fashion choices on court, and the rippling, bronzed god that is Rafael Nadal. But, I love watching tennis on TV. The women are always grunting, sweat is always pouring off the players’ faces, and then there’s Roger Federer, who with his ridiculous good looks, perfect coif, perfect form, and ever white uniform, should be branded the face of tennis – like Laetitia Casta being cast as the face of France. There are plenty of tennis games out there to put users in the shoes of these great tennis pros, but Real Tennis 2009 isn’t too shabby at all.
Real Tennis 2009 is definitely a solid tennis game — if you’re not ready to be quick on your virtual feet, or are looking for something more casual, you might check elsewhere. But with eight players, seven courts and three surfaces (not to mention some interesting multiplayer options to try), it’s a worthwhile tennis experience. The full version is priced decently at $4.99, but if you just want a quick overview, try out the free version – the gameplay is still there, there are just limits on court options and, unfortunate for some, no multiplayer. The whole game is flashy and dazzling, with game replays, and intermissions where, for five or so seconds, you watch your player recoup his wits and muscles on the sidelines, drinking from his sports bottle. I really like these little details – it adds a lot of personality to the game.
The game plays pretty well, though the players are controlled with onscreen buttons rather than touchscreen gestures. One thing I’ve noticed about iPhone games with built-in touchscreen buttons is they’re not terribly responsive. Something about your sweaty finger getting stuck on the screen, or the grease from your finger obscuring the screen’s ability to tactily respond to and translate your every swipe and tap just makes for a poorer game than those that rely on gestures. Besides – having buttons onscreen, while malleable (they could be on the left, or right, of hey, why not in the center), are kind of a throwback to almost archaic methods, no matter how tried and true they are. Even if Gameloft had you move the characters by tilting the iPhone, it would improve the playability. Serving is the only activity that tries to take full advantage of the iPhone’s controls: you can target your serve with the accelerometer, and then tap the screen anywhere when the serve meter is full. But, at least the game is fun: The action is pretty fast, and sometimes too fast. If you don’t get moving in the right direction right off the ball, your player will most likely end up diving and missing. Or just missing in a silly, obvious manner. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to watch it in instant replay.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the game lies in its impressive four-player WiFi multiplayer. That could be pretty impressive – if you can find three other people with iPhones and the game to play (hopefully, you’ll have more luck with this than finding other Harry Potter fans to duel). Single player is good enough for me, though, and I easily passed the time volleying with the AI – who have a tendency to hit the mark exactly (all the time). It’ll be awhile before I rise beyond the Rookie status, if I’m even at that level, but this game is far more enjoyable for me than playing the actual sport. When I play in life, I sort of make it up as a I go along, diving to the left and right and striking the ball whenever possible. I tend to cringe and later fume, not so quietly, when my boyfriend offers suggestions on my form. I do have plenty of stamina (cardio is my friend), so the quick switch-around and momentous, pirouetted leap are but two of the reflexive techniques in my repertoire, but I digress – I’ve never been one to participate in competitive sports. For one, I’m far too competitive. With games I was always the one throwing the controller across the room, or, in one famous incident among my brothers and I, when Diablo killed me in the first Diablo, and I screamed, picked up my director’s chair, and threw it across the room, near where my brothers were perched. My brothers left soon after that. I’m so calm and collected in my daily life that sports unleash my childish temper tantrum, where I just let loose with the primal screams and pout in a very unflattering and unforgiving manner. Plenty of people thrive in this type of competition, but I’d rather team up and rock climb, or run together, or take a long hike. Those are sports too, in a sense, perhaps not as most Americans define “sport” (i.e. football, basketball, baseball, tennis), but they’re right up my alley. But, I enjoy playing most sports games – with Real Tennis 2009 I’m a step removed from the sport, and I can rest assured knowing my players onscreen will always have better form than me.