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US Open 2002
Scheduled release date: Winter 2002
Publisher: Strategy First, Inc.
Developer: Wanadoo FTG
Genre: Sports
Number Of Players: 1-4

  As of late, sports like tennis and golf have been receiving a lot of attention, and although three tennis games have already come out within the last few months, more are to come! Taking its name after the most popular (in this country) Grand Slam tournament, Carapace will try its hand with US Open 2002. And it's about time a title has gotten its name after a Grand Slam. That's like having no football game named after the Super Bowl (wait, bad point).

   US Open 2002ís roster isnít as prominent as, say, a Tennis 2K2, but it does include players that other games donít have, as well as one of the best players on the menís tour today -- Gustavo Kuerten. The menís side also includes Tommy Robredo, Sebastian Grosjean, Tim Henman, Todd Martin, and Nicolas Kiefer. Kiefer and Henman have been on the tour for quite some time, entering and leaving the top 10, and Todd Martin is one of Americaís favorites.

   The womenís side of the draw includes four more tennis pros: Virginie Rozzano, Chanda Rubin, Barbara Schett, and Elena Dementieva. Virginie is an up-and-coming junior, not yet really establishing herself as a top contender on the WTA, while Chanda Rubin is a young African-American showing much promise; Dementieva and Schett have both reached great heights in their careers, and theyíre still improving. Overall the roster is somewhat disappointing, with the lack of big names, but, at the same time, itís a refreshing cast of characters, especially if you follow the sport on TV, as you will have heard of at least half of these players.

   There are tons of modes available in US Open 2002, letting you compete in a number of different activities. Arcade mode and single matches are both just exhibition-type set ups, while challenge mode lets you set up a tournament-style event, while career mode takes you through the bulk of the game. Here, you create a player, whose skills are fairly primitive, and improve your skills as well as your ranking -- throughout a 10 season time-span.

   When you start in a career mode, you can either chose a pro or create your own prodigy. If you chose the latter, youíll get to enter many training sessions to better your playerís game in the different aspects of the sport, by competing in different drills and activities. The idea is great, and it adds a lot of incentive for creating your own pro.

   The four main court types are all in and will act accordingly -- the ball bounce (height, distance) and the speed that the ball comes with once it bounces. The players also play a lot like their play-styles in real life, having weaknesses in some categories while having their forte in another. And the controls play nicely too, letting you execute all the conventional tennis strokes, making the game quite realistic overall. But easily the most realistic aspect of the game is the fact that you can actually chose the tension that your strings will get strung at -- tighter for more control or looser for more power.

   US Open 2002 includes aspects of the game that the competition doesnít, and itís also turning out to be a pretty solid tennis title. Weíll have the low-down as it becomes available, and you can be sure to look out for the review as the game hits shelves.

8/9/2002   Joseph Comunale