International 3D Tennis logo

PALACE £24.95 * Joystick

Just as art can occasionally attempt to imitate life, so computer games programmers attempt to do the same thing, but usually with very differing results. One of the biggest hurdles the programmers have to jump is getting human-like figures into games and then getting them to move with human smoothness and fluidity. That is why Palace and Sensible Software have spent nine months developing this 3D tennis game.

There are three distinct sections to the game: single match, Tournament and Season. The single match is obvious enough; you play against either a friend or the computer for a defined number of sets. The Tournament is slightly more complicated, in that there are 72 tournaments to pick from, each with a different amount of prize money to be won, and again the number of sets can be defined. Then there is the Season, which allows you to make a living by playing in various tournaments throughout the year.

There are several skill levels, but the one you will want to get some practice in on is the 'Amateur' level. Here the computer takes serves for you, moves your character around the court to get him in the best position to return the ball and then flashes your character to inform you that he is in range to return a shot. You can influence things slightly by moving your man closer to or further away from the net if you wish and also by holding the joystick in any one of nine positions after you have made a hit, which will influence the direction of your return.

Step up a skill level and you can then start directing serves, but you still get the flashing. Go up another skill level and the flashing disappears. Go to the top level ('Ace') and you can then start adding spin (top and back) to the ball by hitting the fire button again and moving the joystick forwards or backwards.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

The sound effects, including a digitised score keeper and umpire, are excellent, giving real atmosphere to the game - atmosphere which the graphics unfortunately take away. The programmers have substituted reality for triangular racquets and triangular players in the search for speed and fluid movement. This works to some degree. If you do not like the viewing angle of the matches you have a choice of nine others and there is even one that allows you to position the camera just where you want it.

LASTING INTEREST

The graduation of skill levels has been well judged and although it still takes a while to get to grips with amateur level, once you have you will want more control so you can step up a level (the computer players get better as you step up the levels too). One to keep you coming back whenever you fancy a game.

JUDGEMENT

It has got some hot competition from the likes of Ubi Soft's Pro Tennis Tour which, it has to be said, is altogether a better game. International 3D Tennis is good, but the graphics let it down and, although it plays well, it does not play as well as Ubi Soft's game. A nice attempt but not good enough to steal Pro Tennis Tour's crown.


International 3D Tennis logo

Seit Gräfin Steffi und Bum Bum Boris in Wimbledon abgeräumt haben, gibt es für die Softwarehäuser kein halten mehr: Ein Tennisgame jagt das andere. Ob von hinten, in der Draufsicht, oder am gesplitteten Screen - Hauptsache, es ist Tennis! Wen wundert es, wenn jetzt Palace Software eine 3D-Vektorgrafik-Variante nachschiebt?

Die jüngste Versoftung des weißen Sports verdanken wir niemand geringerem als dem Programmierteam "Sensible Software" - immerhin jene Jungs, die schon mit "Microprose Soccer" ein goldenes Händchen bewiesen haben. Diesmal dürfte allerdings aus der großen Kohle nichts werden, aber immer hübsch der reihe nach...

Ehe es zur Sache geht, wird der Spieler von einem schmissigen Musikstück begrüßt. Soll angeblich die offizielle Wimbledon-Erkennungsmelodie sein, klingt aber trotzdem ganz gut! Beim Betrachten der Loadingscreen (ein Globus) macht man auch zum erstenmal mit dem Feature des Games Bekanntschaft, das einem später den ganzen Spielspaß verleiden wird: die hochauflösende Interlace-Grafik. Der Kenner weiß, daß in diesem Modus die erstaunlich hohe Bildschirmauslösung in der Regel mit andauerndem Flackern erkauft werden muß. Was für ein Titelbild noch ganz O.K. ist, kann während des Spiels Nerven und Augen ganz schön strapazieren! Aber fast hätte ich es vergessen, wir wollten ja der Reihe nach vorgehen...

In einem Auswahlmenü wird nun bestimmt, ob man ein Probematch gegen einen Computergegner oder lieber gegen einen menschlichen Partner wagen möchte. Wer sich fit genug fühlt, kann auch gleich den Menüpunkt "Season" anwählen, wo der Rechner eine ganze Tennissaison mit den dazugehörigen Turnieren simuliert. Je besser man sich dann in den Begegnungen plazieren kann, desto höher fallen natürlich die Preisgelder aus. Sobald auch noch der Bodenbelag (Rasen, Asche, Beton, Teppich) und der Schwierigkeitsgrad bestimmt sind, beginnt das erste Match auf dem Centercourt.

Der Platz ist in Vektorgrafik dargestellt, die Begrenzungen bestehen aus farbigen Seitenflächen; der Blickwinkel kann über die Funktionstasten verändert werden. Die Strichmännchen-Spieler sehen allerdings etwas befremdlich aus... Egal, ich knalle einen Aufschlag über das Netz, mein Gegner retourniert, und der Ball eiert merkwürdig durch die Luft (mit etwas Phantasie und gutem Willen kann man einen Slice erkennen). Plötzlich mein Strichmännchen an, mit dem Interlace-Modus um die Wette zu flackern - laut Anleitung das Zeichen, um mittels Feuerknopf zurück zu schlagen. Was soll ich sagen, nach einigen Runden hatte ich zwar schon diverse Kontrahenten besiegt, mußte aber wegen tränender Augen und der typischen Flacker-Kopfschmerzen aufgeben!

Bei International 3D Tennis kommt wahrlich wenig Freude auf: Die Steuerung ist schrecklich träge, die Spielstärke der Gegner entweder zu leicht oder nahezu unschlagbar, und das unsägliche Geflacker gibt auch dem gutmütigsten Redakteur den Rest. Ich verstehe beim besten Willen nicht, wie englische Zeitschriften diesem Tennis-Trauma so gute Noten verleihen konnten - "Tie Break" oder "Great Courts (Pro Tennis Tour 1)" sind um Klassen besser! (C. Borgmeier)


International 3D Tennis logo CU Amiga Screen Star

PALACE
PRICE: £24.99

By releasing International 3D Tennis in June, Palace are presumably hoping to cash in on Wimbledon fever. That is not to say they are trying to rip anyone off - the game is extremely playable and very addictive.

International 3D Tennis has been developed by Sensible Software whose previous games have included Wizball and SEUCK. Starting off with the Wimbledon theme tune, the game allows you to select four ability levels: amateur, semi-pro, pro and ace. You can also select the skill level of your computer opponent which range from 1-15, one being a bit of a soft through to fifteen which is virtually unbeatable. There is also a two player mode and you can choose from 1, 3 or 5 matches and grass, clay, cement and carpet courts which affect the bounce of the ball.

It is a tad difficult to begin with. Even in amateur mode with the computer at level one, my first few attempts at hitting the ball were pathetic. However, it does not take long before you are scampering around like a pro. This is because of several innovative features, unlike other tennis games, you do not have to line up with the ball, the computer does this for you. In the amateur and semi-pro modes, your player will also automatically flash when the ball is near enough to be hit. This helps you get your timing right. And when you hit the ball it is possible to direct it to nine predetermined points on the court.

At semi-pro level, your serve is controllable and, if you fancy a real game, ace level allows you to put topspin on the ball. This involves a bit of concentration at first as you have to press the fire button after hitting the ball and waggle the joystick for the desired effect.

Once you have mastered that technique, it is time to move into the big league by either playing individual tournaments or a full season of games. The rules follow those for the real game and the idea is to win as many tournaments as possible and collect as much money as you can. There are 72 tournaments to choose from all based on real events with a choice of 64 opponents from McEnroe and Wilander on down.

The game has a lot of nice touches. There are different stadiums for each round of competition based on the court set up at Wimbledon. As well as nine pre-set camera angels, the Amiga lets you view the stadium from an unlimited number of angles, even underneath the court, which makes for a great if difficult game. The crowd sounds are poor, but the sampled speech of a real Wimbledon umpire makes up for it.

The vector graphics allow great flexibility and are more appropriate for a tennis sim than a sprite-based one. Sensible Software spent 2 months using a 3D program they developed themselves and the results are impressive. Game, set and match to Palace? You bet!


International 3D Tennis logo

Amiga reviewDavid: There's not really too much scope for making a weird computer game of tennis, is there? And remarkably, International 3D Tennis is just that. (One almost suspects that programmers Sensible Software have some Gallic blood). It's very surreal and its players resemble Czechoslovakian cartoon characters! Rendered in vectors it offers several novel innovations.

As well as the nine preset viewpoints, there's a programmable camera angle where you can pan around the court, zooming in and out - even going underground so that the match seems to take place on the ceiling! As I've mentioned, the sampled sound is probably the best of any tennis game I've heard. There's four different sampled racket sounds, various net sounds, the sampled voice of a real-life Wimbledon umpire, and different voices for line calls. Oh, and there's also a rather realistic rendition of the Wimbledon theme tune which you'll hear in its entirety if you win a tournament (come second and you'll hear it twice!),

Take on the computer or a friend, in a solo match, or enter a season of tournaments. There are four playing surfaces, four skill levels and fifteen computer skill levels, but thre is not facility for a double match.

At the end of the day, International 3D Tennis is an innovative and fun tennis game. Unfortunately it/'s too far removed from a tennis sim and lacking in options to please fanatics and many of the latter are novelties. The alterable camera angle is all very well, but after you've found the best angle you probably won't alter it again for the duration of the game.

  • International 3D Tennis is available now from Palace on ST and Amiga, price ¨24.99.


International 3D Tennis logo Zzap! Sizzler

Palace, Amiga £24.99

Wimbledon's not too far away (especially if you're a womble) so perhaps we can forgive the software houses for releasing so many tennis sims recently. The best C64 game so far, International 3-D Tennis caused quite a stir last issue, impressing us with its novel use of vector graphics and earning a deserved 94%.

Ubik, best known for his music, has written the Amiga game with help from Sensible Software. As before, the control system allows you to move freely after hitting the ball. When the ball is returned, however, the computer automatically moves your player into line with the path of the ball, though you can still move forwards/backwards. Pressing a direction with fire determines what type of shot you play.

Again there are four surfaces - with subtly different bounces - and four levels. The easier skill levels help you time shots by making your player flash at the correct time (DIY Innuendos Inc).

Higher levels remove this aid but allow serves to be aimed and spin put on the ball. As both players can have different skill levels, it's possible for a novice to compete with an expert in two-player mode.

The unique choice of camera angles used in the C64 version has been improved. One of the angles can be defined by rotating the view in three dimensions and zooming in/out - so there's theoretically an infinite amount of possible viewpoints.

Advanced players can enter one of the 79 international tournaments (based on real ones), competing against some of the 100 different computer players - including the likes Lendl, Becker and McEnroe. If you choose to play a whole season, you can enter a number of tournaments with the aim of winning as much money as possible. With a possible 21 tournaments, a season can last a long time so there's an invaluable Save (on formatted disk) facility.


Phil King Aesthetically this isn't as impressive as the C64 version. The vector graphics look a bit weird coloured-in and there's no hidden line removal so the players sometimes appear to be holding their racquets behind their backs! Having said that, the ability to create your own camera angles is brilliant - you can zoom out as far that the court looks tiny or get an amazing worm's eye ground view. Gameplay is much the same as it was on the C64 with the innovative control method working perfectly to create a game of maximum skill and minimum frustration. As before, you can really get some long rallies going, especially against some of the better computer opponents. The centre court atmosphere is improved by some extremely clear sampled umpire speech and a brilliant crowd effect with them oohing and applauding realistically. Comparing the many recent Amiga tennis sims it's easily game, set, and match to International 3-D Tennis.
Robin Hogg At first I wasn't at all sure about this conversion of the ace C64 game. What was pushing the C64 to remarkable limits a month ago comes as something of a visual disappointment for a 16-bit machine. This doesn't stop the gameplay from being just as brilliant though. The playability is immense, more than making up for any graphic deficiencies the game may have. Top marks for the samples too, the clearest I've heard for a good while.
Scorelord First impressions are misleading, with the players translucent, and although this helps gameplay when they shake hands at the end of a match it's a real mess! But International 3-D Tennis more than compensates with superb playability. Playing a tournament really takes it out of you, with you nervously waiting to see who your next opponent will be. Have you been unlucky enough to encounter Becker or McEnroe? But even the comparative unknowns can give you a tough game. If nothing else, this reminds you how cruel tennis can be, with 20-point tussles at deuce being easily lost with a careless mistake or two.
Each and every rally has to be approached with a clear mind. You must plan how to make your return, and whether to go to the net or not. Yet winning a tournament is compulsive, and the way the stadia enlarge as you progress to the final is rewarding - as is the pic of you lifting the cup. With a year packed with tournaments there's plenty of lastability. As for the graphics, you soon get used to them and the ability to rotate the court means you can always be a the bottom of the screen - very useful for playing the computer. Also, the sonics are absolutely superb. The samples are crystal clear making the commentary great fun, and the tunes are brilliant. Highly recommended.