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XBox Reviews: Tennis Masters Series 2003


Tennis Masters Series 2003 Screenshots

The Final Say!

Tennis Masters Series 2003
 - reviewed by Alex Gowan
Review Date: 16 February 2003
Review Score: 7.9/10
Not based on an average 
Distributed By:
Red Ant

Tennis anyone?  As a player of the actual sport when I was a young fella and a fan of the professional game I was looking forward to this outing by Microids.  This has been a tough one to review, as with its many strengths there are also weaknesses.  Whether as a gamer that places emphasis on superficial qualities such as graphics and sound you may be disappointed because what this title achieves in what I regard as the most important feature in a game, the Gameplay.

Tennis Masters Series 2003 Features

  • Players 1- 4
  • Genre: Sport
  • Rating: 3+


One of the first things you will notice about this title is there is no licensing and all the players are fictional.  This is disappointing but what will not let you down is the game itself. The gameplay is where the budget has been spent and it shows.  There are four different types of serves and rally shots at your disposal and each opening up an avenue of gameplay strategies.  Each shot is executed with the four buttons on the face of the pad and the direction of the ball is guided with the left analogue stick.  The kinds of shot that can be achieved during rallies are power topspin, topspin, slice and lob. 


Controlling the player is done also with the left analogue stick.  The longer the button is pressed in conjunction with the stick the more angle is incurred on your shot.  Serves are simple if not a little rudimentary, basically it is just hold down on the serve button until the desired power is reached.  Types of serve are flat serve, kick serve, slice serve and kick-slice serve.  The game-play is fast and done well to simulate the game of Tennis, it will not take long to start swinging with the best of them.   

The gameplay with it being as deep as it is could be used as a sort of a sim for real players of the sport. That is if the player is proficient at the sport.  Shots could be experimented with to see which type of shot is most affective. 

There is also the option to play with two to three friends in Exhibition mode and it is a riot. This reviewer played a singles match in 2 player and it became edge of your seat action.  Playing close to the net is a sure-fire way to win quickly but you are susceptible to lobs.  On the baseline it can become a long game, as the angles of shot are not as explicit. 

Games in Exhibition mode are entirely customable and there is a chance to change the number of games per set, how many sets, and fatigue on or off as well as many other options.  In the Master Series Championship mode there is not as many options to tweak but you can change the length of the season and how many sets you want to play in each match. 

The graphics are good if not too flashy. The box claims that it uses 500 motion capture moves and it shows although some shots do seem a bit awkward.  Sometimes the player does not even look at the ball while playing a stroke!   This fault while not annoying does detract from the realism that it tries so hard to convey.  There are real time shadows, which look great.  The players look a little average, low polygon and not as polished as other Tennis games on next-gen consoles. Even Virtua Tennis on the ill-fated Dreamcast looked better!  The faces do not look real and there are no victory animations to write home about.  The stadiums look excellent and even the spectators look plausible.  Shame there is no camera panning over them during matches.  There are a few special effects a la Tiger Woods such as the camera panning around a player while hitting a winner.

The sound attempts to be atmospheric for example the crowd “ooing” at close and hard won rallies, like at a real tournament.  This is a good feature and does well to accentuate the feeling of being “in the action”.  The music is weak but not annoying.  This is only played during intervals and is not heard in-game fortunately.  There is little to no commentary throughout TMS and with no licenses or franchises to speak of, is disappointing.   

TMS has a sound game engine and there is depth in the gameplay with so many different variations of shot to play we can forgive the no licensing because where it succeeds is in the most important compartment of all, gameplay.  If you our beloved readers read the Value score, keep this in mind you are paying for, above all else, gameplay with no bells or whistles

- Alex Gowan

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