An egg. L'oeuf, as they say in France. That's an oval-shaped thing full of cholesterol for dipping greasy soldiers in, I hear you cry. And indeed it is. But, me little French food lovers everywhere, 'l'ouef' is also the origin of the tennis term 'love', because, erm, the words sort of sound the same and the French orginally figured that the number zero was shaped like, yes well, an egg!
And by amazing coincidence zero is exactly what you're likely to score in this game, 'cos Pro Tennis Tour is pretty tough and fabby. So much so, in fact, that it won best sports sim in the Tiltd'Or awards (French computer games award ceremony). But does the Speccy version match up?
Well, the first thing that hits you right between those old beady eyes (yikes!) is that it's corkendously fast. It actually looks like the genuine object - real tennis, like blimmin' accurately animated (though Wimbledon's not usually in monochrome unless you're telly's black and white or you're colour blind!)
The second thing you notice is that the whole shenanigan comes complete with four (yes, four) different tournament locations, three (yes, three) difficulty levels, and, for those who are totally crap, two (yes, two) different types of practice sessions. One's for ground-strokers, with balls being gobbed at you from a machine, and the other's just for service. And that's all you need 'cos these are the only two types of shot.
A bit lacking in variety? Nope, 'cos you can make the ball sproing all over the court at all sorts of different angles just by timing and positioning. For example, supposing you want your ball to move to the left, you just stand, erm... to the left of it and time your shot. Once you've got the hang of this spunky little control method you can play incredibly involved matches with more line shots, hair-raising volleys and top-spin ralleys than you'd ever see in a month of Wimbledons. And 'cos there's no messing about with joystick angles or power meters to slow you down the action's always fast, furious and ferociously fun. Blimey!
'Snot easy though. You've got to practice for ages before you get good enough to beat any of the ranking compu players, so (in one player mode) it's blimmin' hard to win. Things are slightly better in two player mode though, because there's every chance that your opponent will be as crap as you are, making for a more even-handed match. Things are much tougher if you're the one playing at the far end of the court (since you're further away and much smaller it's a lot harder to tell where the ball's going to bounce) but luckily you swop positions every so often so things even out.
Still, even when you're playing at the front of the court it's pretty hard. Due to the angle at which you view the game it's fairly easy to judge left and right, but much harder to tell how close to the net the ball will bounce. In fact, it's murder! Still, at least you can see he whole court all the time, which is a far better set-up than the one in Passing Shot, for instance, in which the court scrolled and you couldn't even see your player half the time! Now that really was a nightmare!
Pro Tennis Tour is one of the slickest, quickest and spiffiest tennis games I've seen in yonks. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a Borg then you're on to a winner, though you probably won't be the winner yourself for a bit, if you see worramean. As for me, I only lost 'cos someone knobbled the line judge. I mean - anyone could have seen that chalk dust!
The best tennis sim on the Speccy so far. The dead accurate (if a tad hard) gameplay makes for some eyebrow-singeing matches.
That's me (the cutie in the shorts) in the default position at the front of the screen. In one player mode you're always at the near end of the court, though you can choose to play from the far side of the net (where the sprites are much smaller and everything's more difficult to judge) if you feel the urge.
Here I am, about to serve. Just position the cursor and press fire when it's in the right place. Couldn't be easier, could it? (Unlike returning, of course, which is murder! When I was doing the two player game, the one who served always won the point. Funny that.)