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Top Spin 4: Is 2K getting ready to serve an ace?

Mafia 2 devs swap extortion rackets for tennis rackets...

You know realism is a priority when players can be identified not only by their life-like faces but by the way they move around. For us, that's 2K Czech's biggest achievement with Top Spin 4.

It's our first game - we're playing Nadal vs Murray - and both men are perfectly recreated, right down to the subtle way they run, serve and smash backhands over the net.

Virtua Tennis may have the edge on distractions and silliness, but for serious tennis fans, this is where it's at. Perfectly married to the animations are the controls, which simulate the sport well.

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You can't just ping-pong opponents from one side of the court until you win the point here. You need to think about positioning, when to strike the ball and whether to lace your shot with spin or simply try to smash home a winner along the line.

TENNIS ACADEMY
However, this realism isn't new to the Top Spin series. What is fresh are the guides, which you can turn on for help in understanding the game's many complexities.

Holding a shot too long? There's an onscreen prompt that can tell you about it. Worried you're fatiguing your player too quickly in a rally? You can switch on a stamina bar to see where you're using up your energy.

So the depth is there, and the devs are going to pains to ensure you know how to make the most of it. The other big improvement is the coaches. Really, coaches? Yup.

Add one to your created player and he or she boosts your stats. Complete in-game objectives (hit 100 lobs, for example) and you'll unlock a perk specific to that trainer.

It's a smart way of realistically adding to the game's already impressive character adjustment options.

Your custom career is unified across on and offline too, and the final game will be PS Move compatible, to match Virtua Tennis 4. Ace, indeed.

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