STAFF REVIEW of Outlaw Tennis (Xbox)

Tuesday, August 2, 2005.
by Yellowlab

Outlaw Tennis Box art Welcome to Pong with a heaping dose of attitude. Outlaw Tennis is a game that turns the typical country club on its head and then stomps all over it. The game is filled with a cast of characters that you likely wouldn?t find at Wimbeldon? the stripper, the hardened criminal, the hard drinking English woman, the steroid enhanced Russian, and so on...

If you?ve played an Outlaw game (Outlaw Golf 1 & 2, Outlaw Volleyball) you know what it is all about. A tennis game mixed with plenty of crude humor, scantily clad women, and celebration movies that would likely spurn Hillary Clinton to invoke some new legislation.

Outlaw Tennis features 16 character ? 7 new and 9 returning from previous games. Summer, El Suave, Harley, Killer Miller, Shawnee, Donna Maroni, Lizzy, Natasha, and Ice Trey all return. The 9 new characters are an eclectic mix of various ethnic stereotypes. You are sure to find a few characters that amuse you, as well as a few that annoy.

Surprisingly, the Outlaw series has always had terrific game mechanics at its core. Outlaw Golf was not a disposable parody that was all about the crude humor. The gameplay was as good, or better than the hardcore versions - such as Tiger Woods and Links. The same thing could be said about Outlaw Volleyball. Unfortunately, Outlaw Tennis does not quite live up to the series? great reputation in that regard, and it does not give the elite games in the genre - Top Spin and Virtua Tennis ? a run for their money.

The mechanics feel slightly sloppy and a little loose. You?ll occasionally find yourself heading a different direction than you wanted to go, or watching the ball hit your character in the leg while you swing the racket a good 3 feet away from the ball.

After playing the game a few hours, I got more used to the mechanics and hyperactive speed, but it never reached the quality of the other games in the genre. It?s far from bad in this regard, but just slightly disappointing when compared to the quality you?ve come to expect in the Outlaw series.

On the positive side, the game has a massive amount of gametypes that keep things very fresh. You can play several match modes in addition to playing the standard rules - baseball, football, ping pong, pinball, hot potato, casino, and time bomb are all added into the mix.

The game has a ton of unlockable extras ? including bonus movies, characters, courts, drill events, tour events, and several sets of clothing and accessories for each character. Every win will give you a handful of new stuff to check out.

As with Outlaw Vollyeball, you can pick a fight with your opponent. Unfortunately the system has been changed to simple button mashing. The person who mashes the buttons the fastest wins the fight (and 30 seconds of ?hyper-mode?). The Outlaw series has never been good at the fight mechanics, but this is a curious step backwards

The visuals look almost identical to those seen in Outlaw Volleyball. At a casual glance it is difficult to tell the games apart? the courts and character models look nearly the same. The courts are boring this time around as all the typical places make an appearance ? the snow covered icy court, the hot desert court, the gym, hell (which was already done in Outlaw Volleyball), etc? The subject matter should have lent itself to more creative environments.

As with the other Outlaw games, the voice acting is top notch. The commentary is decent, and is presented by the Daily Show?s Stephen Colbert. It does get repetitive (as is the case with most sports games), but is funny at times.

There is a wide variety of in-game music from mostly B-level bands ? not terrible, but not anything you?ll be rushing to your local store to buy. The game also features custom soundtracks, so you can rip your favorite Bette Midler and Neil Diamond tunes to your Xbox and jam away.

Ultimately, Outlaw Tennis is a fun game with enough variety to keep things fresh, but with tightened up game mechanics this could have been the ultimate tennis experience. It?s a great buy for the Outlaw fan, but the casual player that already has Outlaw Volleyball may want to pass on this one.

Overall: 7.6 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.6 / 10
Sound: 9.6 / 10


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