PS2 Review: Outlaw Tennis

Even if the gameplay in one of the Outlaw titles doesn't hold up, the sheer variety and innovative nature of its gameplay modes will hold it all together. That's the only reason to deal with aggravations of Outlaw Tennis, a weakly strung together sports title with superb multi-player. That's the only aspect worth recommending.

Like most of this series, this is an unforgiving game. It's surprisingly robust tennis engine demands accuracy, which wouldn't be a problem if the controls held up. Outlaw Tennis makes it far too easy to miss the ball (your racket needs to make perfect contact), and there are times where your player refuses to move in the direction you're pushing. Be prepared to watch balls fly by without a single course of offensive power to use.

There are those arcades style trimmings to go with the multiple swing types and extra spin control. These special shots are performed in conjunction with the turbo button though offer little advantage, especially when serving. Aside from a weak particle effect to go along with the rest of the bland graphics, these are easily returnable by the opposition.

The typical Outlaw trimmings are here, from the immature-yet-always-funny commentary, hilarious cinematics, to the fighting. Given the lack of caddies, you'll be beating up your opponent this time instead. This is a mini-game where you're forced to slam on all four face buttons repeatedly to win. The benefit to a victory is 30 seconds of unlimited turbo, which barely comes into play anyway.

With the crucial problems, this one should be impossible to recommend. As usual, the variety saves it, with wacky modes of play like football (every point gains "yardage," while missing a shot turns it over). Baseball involves moving runners, and betting puts a dollar amount on every play. Career mode inserts a few of these, but you'll mostly be playing basic tennis.

Doubles play is also available, which makes for an open online experience. Sadly, you'll need to deal with an unrefined engine, sloppy controls, and plenty of frustration to make it through any of these modes. This is the only game in this series that does not deserve a sequel.

(** out of *****)

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