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iPhone  header logo

Real Tennis 2009

For: iPhone

Short of love

Product: Real Tennis 2009 | Developer: In-house | Publisher: Gameloft | Format: iPhone | Genre: Sports | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1.2
Real Tennis 2009 iPhone, thumbnail 1
Andy Murray might be third in the world rankings right now, but there are still some that say a Briton winning a major honour on the tennis courts any time soon would take a minor miracle. Making a title winning tennis sim on the iPhone should be a whole lot easier.

Yet, with Real Tennis 2009 coming to the table just a couple of weeks before Wimbledon kicks off, it could be argued that we're still waiting for our first genuine grand slam. Gameloft's shot at the title isn't quite the smash we've been hoping for, though it does go further in a number of areas than most of its rivals.

What's most apparent is the smooth, sleek style of the game's presentation. Sports sims don't get much better looking than this and it's not an exaggeration to suggest that, at times, this could easily be mistaken for an early PlayStation 2 outing. From the menu screens to the action on the court itself, Real Tennis 2009 looks sublime.

The proof is in the playing, however, and Real Tennis 2009 is something of a mixed bag on this score. As a package, it's comprehensive, giving you the opportunity to play single matches (with the number of games and sets left up to you), full on tournaments, a Championship mode that sends you to events around the globe and opponents via WiFi.

It's something of a shame, then, that official stadia, players, and indeed the real trophies themselves are missing, even if their absence doesn't mar the game as a whole. Instead, it's the controls that prove to be the point of conflict.

Play on the courts uses a combination of motion and touch. The accelerometer, for instance, is used to target your serve: tipping the phone moves a marker around the court until you level it out.

Actually thwacking the ball, however, is a handled via the touchscreen. A virtual D-pad in the bottom-left enabling you to move around the court and direct the ball post hit and a stroke icon in the bottom-right determining just when you smack it in the first place.

To its credit, the controls are straightforward. It's not the kind of set-up that takes much explanation, but it also doesn't offer the flexibility that stiffer tasks (both in terms of seeing tournaments and championships through, or by slipping the difficulty level up a notch or two) require.

Generally knocking the ball about is a breeze, the screen essentially being transformed into a control pad. Although trying to run from one side of the court to the other, backtracking to reach a nifty lob, or diving forward to make a soft shot all prove difficult.

It's much like trying to play a tennis game on a standard control pad that had been covered tightly in cling film, your fingers and thumbs either sticking to the sweaty surface or sliding over without making an impression at all.

This feeling is by no means universal: it's possible to engage in plenty of rallies without suffering any hiccups whatsoever, though the sticky finger syndrome has a habit of cropping up during crucial shots, points lost seemingly through no fault of your own.

It's not a trait unique to Real Tennis 2009. Most of the tennis sims on iPhone come complete with control issues of some sort, raising the question of just how this relatively simple sport can be successfully translated to the touchscreen.

In all other areas, Real Tennis 2009 is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, proving itself to be the most prominent way Murray and co. can get some vital practice in before heading off to the All England Club.
Real Tennis 2009
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 16 June 2009
Tainted slightly by controls that don't quite live up to the pace of the action, Real Tennis 2009 nonetheless sets a new benchmark for tennis on the iPhone
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