Philip serves up an ace

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 December, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 December, 1994, 12:00am

International Tennis Open For IBM compatibles FOR the couch potato who enjoys a spot of 'exercise', nothing beats watching sport on the TV.

Computer fans, however, get the added luxury of taking part in the action without having to leave their arm chairs.

One of the latest simulated sports games is International Tennis Open, from Philip International Media.

Your four opponents are past masters: Robert Garett, Thomas Ullman, Erik Andersen and Julu Jomeneg. You can play with the computer or against a friend.

If you play someone else, you must use the same keyboard - one player takes the arrow keys and the other the Q, W, E, and A keys.

From the main menu you can choose your nationality, such as English, German, or Japanese, and you can select a training icon, which allows you to practise your service using a machine.

Training with the machine is tough at first but as you get used to the keys it gets a lot easier. Practising your serve is also difficult as you have to target your tennis ball at precise points on the ground.

You direct the flight of the ball by placing a cross, like the scope of a rifle, on the part of the court you want it to land. The ground where you place the cross should turn yellow - any other points will turn red meaning the ball cannot land there.

You can also join a tournament in which you start from the quarter final. This can take place in New York, Paris or London - it is up to you.

The court surface also varies (in this you do not get a choice) and can be clay, grass or cement.

Also, as in real tennis, you can play three-or five-set matches.

Like a car, the game can be played in four modes from semi-automatic to manual. In the 'manual shots offensive' and 'manual shots defensive' modes, your character will do the attacking and defending by itself.

In the 'manual moves' mode, you direct the character to the ball and it does the lobbing. In 'fully manual' mode, your character is completely in your hands, you have full control over all the shots and moves.

There are three different skill levels, beginners, intermediate and advanced. To become overall champion you have to play in the latter category.

Obviously the speed varies with each level. In the first, you and your opponent move more slowly, in the last the shots are very fast.

There is an option in the option menu for setting the keyboard preference keysets. You can save a match and restore it to play at any time.

On the whole, the game is funny, fast and intelligent, and the excellent sound effects make it interesting.

Be sure to put some practice into your strokes before you step onto centre court or you will be the laughing stock of world tennis as you fumble around missing your opponent's shots.

But the game is not as difficult as it might sound, and because it is based on such a well-established sport the rules are clear. A good game for novices and sports and computer-game aficionados alike.

This game requires at least 580K of free conventional memory to run. A sound blaster card or its compatible. You require a PC 286, 386 or 486 and DOS version 5.0 or above with 2MB RAM.