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Despite the glut of Tennis games on the App Store, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that the best one is Virtua Tennis Challenge, a game that was released four years ago and that it’s hard to find one that is even a distant second place. So this is where Ultimate Tennis, from 9M Interactive, comes in. It isn’t a great game by all means but it may help fill the void while you wait for a new Virtua Tennis game or for Namco to release an online version of Super Smash tennis (pre-“realistic” graphics)

Beware though, if you hate online games that have a forced tutorial, enhancement features, character strengthening and leveling up, then Ultimate Tennis is only going to make you groan, sigh and then avoid it altogether.

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If on the other hand you like this sort of stuff and just happen to at least enjoy Tennis as a video game sport, then you can (and would) do a lot worse than Ultimate Tennis.

IMG_0388The gameplay has been simplified; you can play with simple controls that only require one hand or take control with a more manual control scheme requiring two hands and then initially it’s just the first to get to 40 points and win a match point. The early opponents AI is really dumb and if you do lose points, it’s mainly due to your own fault control wise then any trickery the AI pulls off. The simple controls feels like Wii Tennis (only less responsive) and so while it may feel a bit braindead, there’s still some enjoyment with it.

The character models look nice, if a bit flat, and the courts themselves are attractive too. On the other hand there isn’t much to look at and the crowds are horrible, utilizing that blurry cardboard animation (and variety) that sports games seem to love to rely on. Hopefully someone will start a Kickstarter for “Realistic and Varied Crowds” animation for sports games.

IMG_0394The music is average and while the sounds of the racket returning the ball and the Umpire are nicely done, you wish there was more to make it more than just an online tennis game.

The worse thing about Ultimate Tennis is the input lag. Thankfully, this does not happen when playing a match, but it makes for a painful trawl through the menus. And we’re not talking about a second but something akin to 5-10 seconds of waiting. It’s so frustrating it can actually be something of a deal breaker in deciding to play this game in the long run.

So Ultimate Tennis is a “been there, done that” game with some issues that will hold it back. But if you’ve got the patience and you must play a tennis game and enjoy the usual online features, then Ultimate Tennis is at least worth having a go for a few hours. But the wait for an awesome tennis game on the App Store continues.

You can download Ultimate Tennis from the App Store.

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