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TUAW at E3: Real Tennis 2009


The last preview we've got for you from E3 last week isn't really a preview -- Real Tennis 2009 was the first game due out from Gameloft that we played in their party bus outside the Los Angeles Convention Center, and sure enough, it's out right now in the App Store for $4.99 (all of the games we played with them last week, including the impressive Castle of Magic, are due out before the end of June). As a tennis game -- Gameloft claimed it was the first on the platform, though that doesn't seem true -- it plays pretty well, though the players are controlled with onscreen buttons rather than touchscreen gestures. Serving is the only activity that tries to take full advantage of the iPhone's controls: you can target your serve with the accelerometer, and then tap the screen anywhere when the serve meter is full. The action is pretty fast, and sometimes too fast: if you don't get moving in the right direction right off the ball, your player will get to where they need to be way too late.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the game lies in multiplayer: though we didn't see it in action, we were told that the game offers up to four-player WiFi multiplayer (even before 3.0 is set to make it easier for developers to do). So that's pretty impressive in and of itself -- if you can find three other people with iPhones and the game to play.

Finally, Gameloft explained to us that they didn't bother getting rights to any of the players' likenesses in the game, but they still wanted it to be as realistic as possible. So instead of Roger Federer, we found ourselves playing as someone named "Tanerer." We didn't recognize who Dubbs or Voldun might be representations of, but it's a guessing game for tennis affcionados as you try to figure out who's who.

Real Tennis 2009 is definitely a solid tennis game -- if you're not ready to be quick on your virtual feet, or are looking for something more casual, you might check elsewhere. But with eight players, seven courts and three surfaces (not to mention some interesting multiplayer options to try), it's a worthwhile tennis experience.

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