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Game Over Online ~ Roland Garros 99

GameOver Game Reviews - Roland Garros 99 (c) GT Interactive, Reviewed by - Seth Gecko

Game & Publisher Roland Garros 99 (c) GT Interactive
System Requirements Pentium 200, 16MB Ram
Overall Rating 63%
Date Published Sunday, July 18th, 1999 at 11:34 AM


Divider Left By: Seth Gecko Divider Right

Last year, Runn Software partnered up with Grolier Interactive to bring us Roland Garros 98. This year, Runn Software is at it again. This time they've teamed up with Carapace and GT Interactive to publish this year's edition, Roland Garros 99. There doesn't seem to be a great deal of improvement over last year's edition, however, and the absence of player licenses is certainly going to disappoint diehard tennis fans.

Roland Garros 99 gives you the chance to relive one of tennis' four major tournaments, the thrilling French Open. Although the game is based on the French Open, it's not just limited to that particular tournament. There are dozens of locations to play at including the rest of the big four, the Australian Open, U.S Open and the creme de la creme, Wimbledon. You also get to choose amongst a plethora of tennis players, although you can't choose any of your favorites. That's right, the dreaded license issue arises here in Roland Garros 99, as they clearly did not secure the rights to use actual players. Instead, you have to choose among players that are based on their real life counterparts. Michael Chang is known as 'Ming', Cedric Pioline goes under the name 'Trempoline', and so on. I can't re-iterate enough how important licenses are when it comes to sporting titles and it's a shame Roland Garros 99 fails to take advantage of this aspect. On a high note, the players provided do match their real life stars fairly accurately. All players have ratings spanning such abilities as Speed, Serve, Volley, Backhand, Forehand, and Endurance. Therefore, strengths and weaknesses of all the tennis stars are apparent and portrayed efficiently.

There are two modes of play in Roland Garros 99. You can choose to play a single game or begin a season. Single player mode gives you the option to play singles or doubles in any tournament you desire. This is also where multiplayer options come into play. You can play against or with a human opponent, but only on the same machine. Roland Garros 99 does not support any Internet, Modem, or LAN connections. This is certainly a disappointment considering how far multiplayer has come along in the last couple of years. None the less, this mode is perfect for players looking to practice their game, or players looking for a quick match.

Season mode allows you to play in a number of tournaments including all the majors. In this mode you begin as the 50th ranked player in the world, according to the ATP rankings. The goal of this mode is to become the number one ranked player in the world. This is done by accumulating points based on your success, or failures, in each tournament. Unfortunately, this mode does not support any multiplayer whatsoever. It would have been nice to compete against a number of human opponents, trying to out rank each other in the standings.

Graphically, the game supports Glide, Direct 3D and software modes. In Direct 3D though, there seems to be a few glitches. Loading times appear to be a little longer and players move a tad slower in Direct 3D as compared to Glide. None the less, the graphics are some of the best I've seen in a tennis game. That's probably not saying much considering the lack of tennis games out there, but it's a compliment none the less. The player animations are extremely well done. The only odd animation I noticed was when players dive for balls. Their body aligns in a perfect horizontal line and it looks very unrealistic. All the strokes and player movements, otherwise, are all well done. The environments, while not rich, are accurate in dimension and nicely detailed. I would like to have seen some ball boys on the court racing after missed serves, etc., but the rest of the objects on the court (net, judge, etc.) are well displayed. The crowds, on the other hand, are not well done. I have yet to see a good crowd shot in a sports title. Like many others before it, Roland Garros' fans look like cardboard cutouts. Cleary they only made a half dozen spectators, then sprinkled them around the stands hoping we wouldn't notice that half of the people in the crowd are wearing the same shirt. It must have been 'Hawaian shirt day' at the US Open again. Overall, I was fairly impressed by the graphics. Nothing spectacular, but certainly solid enough to keep me in the game.

The sound on the other hand wasn't that solid. There is no play-by-play that we've become so accustomed to in our sports titles. Certainly this is something Runn Software needs to look into for future editions. The sound effects were basically very average. Crowd noise was fairly realistic, but didn't give me much of a feel like they were really getting into the match. Other effects, such as the ball hitting the surface, was fairly well done. Tennis isn't a game that features music in it, so the lack of music in this title wasn't surprising. Overall, the lack of play-by-play and lackluster sound effects take away any chance of creating a good tennis environment. This is one area that definitely needs improvement.

There are six different camera angles to choose from in Roland Garros. It's good to see a sports title cut down on the number of camera angles and focus more on the quality of the angles. In this case, there are many different angles that give the gamer a good view of the game. Now that they have the camera angles down, it's time for them to work on the realism of the game. While you seem to be playing a game of tennis, you certainly don't feel like you are. For example, computer opponents will hit their first serve 95% of the time, barely faulting at all. Even the worst of servers will nail their first serve, although usually with a little less strength than the better players. On the same note, computer opponents rarely make any unforced errors. They always seem to hit it over the net. All of a sudden the pressure is on you to make the big shot. The only way to gain points is to hit the ball where you're opponent can't get it. If your opponent can reach the ball, he'll hit it back perfectly no matter how hard a shot it is. There are three different skill levels in the game, but I found it only seemed to effect the opponent's speed and serving power, rather than the opponent's ability to hit balls. Roland Garros 99 does a good job of distinguishing playing surfaces. You do get a feel that you're playing on grass rather than clay in terms of surface and ball speed. Player control is also quite good. You can play with either a keyboard or a gamepad and making any type of shot, whether it be a lift, lob, volley, etc., is easy to learn and perform.

RG 99 also comes with an encyclopedia that allows you to look back at the past winner of the French Open, all the way back to the year 1968. Photos of the winners and statistics from each of the tournaments are available to view. There is no editor that comes with Roland Garros 99, so you won't be able to create your own players. You'll have to settle with what they've selected for you.

Roland Garros 99 seems to have all the components to make up a solid tennis game. It's got decent graphics, a good engine, single play, and a season mode that is well implemented. Now they need to incorporate the things that will make Roland Garros 99 a great tennis game. More multiplayer options including Internet play; player licenses that allow them to use real players; an overhaul of the sound system including the implementation of play-by-play; realistic AI and gameplay touch-ups. There's not much competition out there at the moment when it comes to tennis games, but that doesn't mean you can settle with what you've got. You never know when somebody's going to come around and claim the top spot from you. If you've got a chance to hit a winner, you'd better do it right. In this instance, Roland Garros 99 comes up a little weak.

 

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Rating
63%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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