Game Reviews

TouchSports Tennis 2011

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TouchSports Tennis 2011

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

People stealing a view of Wimbledon this summer may be aware of the renaming of Henman Hill to Murray Mount, but the name change means very little.

Fans will still use it for the same purpose they did back in the '90s: to obtain an elevated viewpoint from which to watch the stars of British tennis crash out before the final.

Indeed, if you're someone who swapped waving your St George's flag for the cross of St Andrew, you're sure to have much in common with TouchSports Tennis 2011.

Two years on from the last time Pocket Gamer touched base with the franchise, this latest release reveals one shining truth: not much has changed.

Rally rerun

TouchSports Tennis remains a series that, more than any other tennis game, has bent to the will of iPhone touch and tilt controls to accommodate its own brand of tennis. Yet, by the same token, it's also the one series that feels most shackled by it.

To be clear, there have been some improvements, and overall the game feels tighter. TouchSports Tennis utilises both accelerometer and touchscreen: the former determines where any shot you hit lands, while the latter is used to make the shot.

While tapping the screen on either side is enough to make your player dash for the ball and hit it – the process of giving it a thwack is thankfully out of your hands – to actually win the point you often find yourself having to tip your iPhone in another direction entirely. It's a confusing and thoroughly unnatural configuration.

Tilting the tilt

Things are made somewhat easier by the fact that the game no longer requires quite the amount of tilt it needed in the past (2009's release sometimes made it difficult to see the screen, so severe was the tip required). Additionally, it's worth noting that the longer you play, the easier it gets.

But you have to wonder whether it's worth it. By and large, TouchSports Tennis 2011 comes with the same visuals as the last version and largely the same range of options – one-off matches joined by custom tournaments.

There are six characters, bizarrely taking the first names of some of the world's biggest players, but lacking any visual similarity and coming with different nationalities attached – presumably to protect the developer should the lawyers come knocking.

Also on board are four fictitious venues from around the globe, but nothing that wows.

Anti update

It makes you wonder, in fact, just what is achieved by this incremental update.

While sports franchises tied to official licenses can fall back on updated player rosters, tournament line-ups, and leagues, TouchSports Tennis 2011 has no such claims. Indeed, there's nothing here that presumably couldn't have taken the form of a minor update to one of the series' previous releases.

In effect, it's a promising franchise that's going nowhere.

Playing out as little more than a rerun of previous releases, TouchSports Tennis 2011 is a tennis game that, on paper, seems like a perfect fit for iPhone and iPod touch, but remains an awkward shot.

TouchSports Tennis 2011

Failing to move on from previous releases, TouchSports Tennis 2011 still suffers from an ambitious, but ultimately awkward, control scheme
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.