Pro Tennis Tour 1 logo

UBI SOFT £24.99 * Joystick

As well as snails and Sacha Distel, the French are pretty keen on their tennis: hence this simulation of the game from Paris-based Ubi Soft.
Essentially it's a one player game in which the player competes in the four Grand Slam tournaments. There is a two player mode but it's only used for practising. Should you fancy practising solo, you can step onto the court and bash away at the balls served to you from a machine, which has six pre-set programmes to match your ability, or you can just chuck a few balls in the air and try to improve your serve.

Once you reckon you can handle a computer-controlled opponent, it's time to enter a tournament (seed bottom at 64) and gain points by winning through the rounds and eventually grabbing the tournament title if possible (and increasing your seeding along the way).

Tennis (in common with other ball games) has often suffered in the past through lack of control. Frequently, for instance, the viewing angle has made it very difficult to guess where the ball might land. But in Pro Tennis the control is great. It uses the old favourite view of slightly behind and slightly above the player throughout the game, but for each tournament match your player remains at the front of the display making it much easier to judge where the ball is going to land and where to position your player. On the easy level there's even a cross that appears on the ground indicating roughly where your player should be to return the ball. This cross also appears on the other side of the net during the serve, to aid accuracy.

Your player is also very adept at switching hands and producing some stunning shots with little prompting from yourself (on the easy level at least, but things get much tougher on the higher levels). That said, it still takes a while to get to grips with the controls especially if you're playing a two player game and have to play on the far side of the court. Win through the rounds, grab the tournament trophy and increase your world ranking before jetting off to another part of the world and another tournament.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

The viewing angle is just right and contributes greatly to the enjoyment of the game. The animation of the characters is also very good, but possibly even better is the sound which is terrific - especially the line calls. All in all it looks and sounds great.

JUDGEMENT

Even if tennis is not your favourite sport you'll find Pro Tennis Tour a great game to play. It's not a brilliant two-player game, but solo you'll find it very challenging, especially on the top professional level, and addictive enough to keep you coming back for many matches. Arguably the best tennis sim to have appeared on any machine, not just the Amiga.


Pro Tennis Tour 1 logo

UBI Soft
Price: £24.95

I don't quite know what's happening this month that has sparked off this series of tennis game (two this month, including Passing Shot) but I do know that Wimbledon finished ages ago. A bit behind the times these programmer types.

Pro Tennis Tour takes the real rock and roll lifestyle of tennis, and sticks you slap bang in the middle of it. You are given a world ranking, and the idea is to improve your ranking by taking part in all the major tennis tournaments of the world against computer simulations of real players such as Ivan Lendl and Bert Becker (or is it Bob?). Obviously, the higher the player ranks, the better they are, and there are no priority restrictions on who you get to play, which is probably how I was unlucky enough to play van Lendl (seeded No.1) in my first match.

Before you play each tournament, you are greeted with a lovely picture of a famous landmark from the host country (England has Tower Bridge, USA has the Statue Of Liberty etc). Then you are pitted in the first of the three sets you have to win to move onto the next round of the tournament.

The match itself is viewed from your end of the court, just like the service sequence from Passing Shot, only in this game the view stays that way. Service is a matter of tapping the fire button to lob the ball and moving a crosshair to decide in which direction you want the ball to go. After that, the only real control you have over hitting the ball is just pressing fire. Your player has swing fore or backhand depending on which side of the ball he's on. You can tell where your opponent is going to return the ball by a little cross that appears on the spot where you have to stand if you want to hit the ball back. This, you might think, makes the game a lot easier. You're right.

The only real problem is that you can't move and swing at the same time. The bat takes an annoyingly long time to swing, which means that to stand a chance of returning the ball, you have to be on the spot a long time before the ball gets there - you've just got enough time in most situations. It makes the game annoying if your timing is out, and the fact is that a lot of the time your bat goes through the ball and it bounces between your legs. The ball, not the bat.

Graphics and sound are great. The animation of the character's is smooth and believable, and the spot FX are very clearly sampled. It's just a shame that the game they back up doesn't quite match. Almost but not quite. However it's still great fun, and well worth checking out. I don't know whether I'd rather play this or sleep with Gady Sabatini!


Pro Tennis Tour 1 logo

Ubi Soft, Amiga £24.99

There are several things you need for a good game of tennis: a glorious summer afternoon, a good court to play on, a racket (so stick some Alice Cooper on your ghettoblaster!), and balls (the less said here, the better!). And in between game, you will need a cool, refreshing drink (sod the barley water, get out the XXXX!). Finally, you will need an opponent who likes loud music and lager, and who is also supremely fit - not an easy task! So instead, why not stay indoors like all good armchair sportspeople, and play Pro Tennis Tour, a tennis simulation from French software house, Ubi Soft?

You can play against either the computer (there are three skill levels) or another lager-loving head banger on a court viewed from the usual TV-angle (from above and behind one of the players). A novel technique is used to control the direction of shots (including the serve). As you are about to hit the ball, a yellow cross appears on the court - this must be positioned where you want the ball to go. When a particularly brilliant winning shot is played, the replay mode shows the entire rally on a spinning miniature 3-D court!

The cross also indicates to your opponent where to stand to return your shot. This sounds terribly easy, but with the blistering pace at which the game is played, such a simple task becomes very tricky. So to helping budding Boris Beckers, the game includes a training machine which can be programmed to churn out balls in six different patterns. There is also a special practice option for serving.

When you think you can hit the ball more often than not, it is time to take on the computer players in the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, played at the world's most famous venues: Melbourne, Paris, Wimbledon, and Flushing Meadow. Starting off at 64th in the world, you can improve your ranking by winning matches. And as it is likely to take a long time to get to No.1, there is a useful save facility.


Phil King I'm always an avid watcher of Wimbledon - the tennis, silly, not the football team! So I could not wait to get my hands on Pro Tennis Tour. Ubi Soft are not renowned for sports sims, but if this is anything to go by I hope they do many more. Pro Tennis Tour is definitely the most realistic tennis game I have seen, played at a frenetic pace that leaves you literally gasping! The difficulty of hitting the ball is disconcerting at first, but once mastered the novel hitting technique works really well. And when you do hit a really good shot, you are rewarded with a mind-blowingly brilliant 3-D replay. Great stuff!
Stuart Wynne Pro Tennis Tour is beautifully presented with a well laid-out court, good animation of the players, and a vast array of options. But even after hours of practice I still found it difficult to hit the ball. Even so, the 'aim the cross' hitting technique makes a refreshing change from previous tennis sims and allows you to play the ball exactly where you want, if you can time it right! With fast realistic action, cheering crowds, and a superb replay mode, Pro Tennis Tour has a wonderful Centre Court atmosphere - so good in fact that I have been able to sell strawberries and cream to the rest of the ZZAP! Team at extortionate prices!