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Roland Garros French Open 2001, published by Cryo Interactive and developed by Carapace, does not feature any real players, despite appearances in the opening movie so instead there's the likes of Pierre Bertin and Catherine Menard representing France. However, it's not just the clay-courts of Stade Roland Garros where the (singles) tennis is being played, but also on the courts of the other Grand Slam tournaments, albeit under the titles of: Australian Cup, English Open and American Open.
Unfortunately, the 'gameplay' (argh) isn't so open. To begin with, I thought it to be border-line unplayable - nothing to do with the computer AI being particularly accomplished, but in the worst sense of the word, I was calling the shots and sometimes, nothing was happening. A simple two-button system is used - slice and lob (not that there is a considerable difference) - yet the game appears to make a meal out of the controls. Rather than hit the ball when the button is pressed, shots have to be prepared beforehand by engaging a target which the player, on slipping into the corresponding motions, then aims at.
The probability of preparing a shot depends on positioning, and the player only hits the ball when the target appears - so when it doesn't, it'll look as if the player hasn't even made the attempt. Quick reactions are indeed thrown out of court, whilst preparation takes its seat. The game lacks a winning mentality. There's no "insert winner here"; no real shot selection aside from whether it be forehand or backhand - only should the angle of shot, regardless of how it was hit, be too acute then the opponent is not able to play the ball back.
In the Practice mode a tennis ball machine is brought into service, and by completing Tournament mode (these start out at the quarter-final stage) goodies can become available. However, after I had figured out a method to maximise the chances of playing the ball back, the computer opposition on each difficulty setting were no longer a challenge, thus I found unlocking the goodies to be a bore. Also, I'm not convinced the court surfaces play any differently to each other.
The animation in this game is not bad, but the gestures are! And, aside from the players and the balls, everything else is stood still. Audio-wise it's average, but the menu music is alright. Roland Garros French Open 2001 is a tricky game to get to grips with, but this initial difficulty only disguises its true lack of depth.
Experience real-life action in this great simulation game. The unique atmosphere of Roland Garros is captured perfectly, with real umpires' voices, the reactions of the crowd, as well as the noise of the balls being hit. All these background sounds and noises are based on actual recordings made of Roland Garros.