Top Spin 3 is a very different kind of tennis game, and is geared more towards a simulation that any other tennis game ever made. What this means is essentially that there are four different kinds of basic shot (flat, top spin, slice, lob), and you have to hold down a button to bring the racket back, and release it to swing. The timing of the latter is what will frustrate a lot of people. This game is difficult, and is simply not accessible for the casual gamer. I expect that many will give up with this game before they have even scratched the surface. If you are not familiar with games or do not play games often, I would flat out recommend that you do not purchase Top Spin 3. If you do not like tennis, you certainly should not purchase the game. I imagine that plenty of people will purchase the game and not give it a fair chance because of the inaccessible nature of it.
In a way, that is a shame, because there is a lot that is positive about this title. The player creator is very decent, the career mode is well constructed, and the online World Tour mode is the best online tennis mode in terms of structure that has ever been created.
Yet the whole package does not come together as well as it should. Volleying is ineffective to all but the most skilled gamers, as lobs are too powerful and the timing of the volleys is very difficult to get to grips with. The serve out wide is too powerful, and is already overused to a horrendous extent online. The movement of the players is also problematic, and it just doesn't feel intuitive or responsive enough. Often balls will fly past you that you are convinced your player should have reached.
There are also some glaring omissions. Doubles has been unforgivably overlooked, and ranked online doubles doesn't even exist. The selection of real life players is fair but could have been better. Nadal does not feature in the 360 version, as he is a PS3 exclusive. This is bound to anger 360 owners after his success at Wimbledon. You also can't play with real life players ranked online, which means that you have to play through the entire career to have a chance of competing in online ranked matches. This will no doubt lead to players whizzing through the career to get to play online, which is a shame.
This review is in danger of sounding too negative, and I don't want it to be. The game is satisfying, and there are some fantastic moments online when you nail a cross court top spin shot and leave your opponent stranded. The game is competitive online, and the World Tour and career modes offer a lot of replay value and play time. If you like your tennis games and want something more simulation oriented, then I would recommend at least renting this. Just be aware that this is not the holy grail of tennis computer games, as much as it wants to be.