Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament. Format: PlayStation 2. Publisher: SCEE. Price: £34.99

WHAT better time to release a new tennis game onto the UK market than during Wimbledon?

Smash Court Tennis has a long and distinguished history as a top arcade-style simulation of the game first on the SNES then on the PlayStation.

As befits a next generation make-over, Smash Court returns with better graphics, smoother gameplay and a longer title - Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament.

Choose a player and participate in four of the world's most prestigious tennis tournaments, Wimbledon, the US Open, the Australian Open and the Tournoi de Paris.

Thanks to a generous licensing deal, you can take your pick from some of the world's best players including Pete Sampras, Patrick Rafter, Andre Agassi, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles and Anna Kournikova.

If you have played any of the earlier games then you will be familiar with what's on offer here. The gameplay is rock solid - finely tuned, fast and rewarding if you take the time to learn the best moves.

There are three kinds of return - topspin, slice and a drop shot - but don't go thinking this is merely a simplistic button basher. Everything depends on your character's positioning, directional movement and the type of court surface they happen to be playing on. It's as deep as Virtua Tennis and just as hard to achieve perfection.

The learning curve is steep, too. I breezed through my first couple of games in Pro-Tournament mode then hit a brick wall. No matter how many times I tried, the third game was rock hard - this is one title that requires dedication if you are to become truly proficient.

This is compounded by the serving method - using the D-pad or the analogue stick - which requires the dexterity of a true tennis pro. You won't be serving aces for a good while after buying into this game.

Alternatively you can plug in a multi-tap for some fantastic multi-player fun. Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament is enjoyable to play but casual gamers may find it a bit too frustrating to be truly great.

Next Generation Tennis. Publisher: Wanadoo. Platforms: PS2, PC, GameBoy Advance. Price: £29.99 (PS2)/£19.99 (PC)/£24.99 (GBA)

NEXT Generation Tennis doesn't have the Wimbledon licence. If you opt to save a few quid on this game you'll only have the chance to play Roland Garros and the US Open.

That said, the game still manages to serve up 12 different courts and four different playing surfaces. There are two hidden Easter eggs, courts made of sand and ice, plus bonuses in the form of extra players, new kits and play modes.

As with Smash Court, you can plug in a multi-tap for some four player fun.

The gameplay is similar to the Namco title. Both the players and the courts are well realised (French developer Wanadoo liased closely with the organisers of both Roland Garros and the US Open, working from scale plans to get the "look" exactly right).

This time you create a player who can be customised according to personal taste and reused in different game modes.

Fans of the game will be pleased to find Tim Henman among the roster of professionals who feature in the game but there's no sign of Anna Kournikova.

Fireblade. Format: PS2. Published by: Midway. Price: £34.99

TENNIS is all very well but sometimes all you want to do is kick back with a beer and blow the scenery to kingdom come in a helicopter packed with missiles and high-velocity weaponry.

Fireblade is the second helicopter flight sim on the PS2. The first, the not dissimilar Thunderstrike: Operation Phoenix released by Eidos, set a pretty high watermark for these kind of games.

Fireblade's backstory is taken straight from tomorrow's news headlines. Western nations have banded together in a bid to crackdown on terrorist activity worldwide.

The West's biggest threat is the United Eastern States (UES) - a shadowy organisation which runs terrorist training camps in the Middle East that is believed to be on the brink of obtaining weapons of mass destruction.

As the world's best pilot in the cockpit of an ultra-sophisticated attack helicopter, it's your job to support allied missions and stop further terror outrages.

As the game progresses it becomes obvious that the UES has influence far beyond the Middle East. As well as the Arab desert, your 18 missions will take in the Arizona desert, the Swiss Alps, the jungles of the Amazon basin and even the Arctic circle.

There's no time to lose and no let up in the action which is enjoyable stuff, albeit in short bursts; shoot 'em ups like Fireblade aren't exactly deep playing experiences.

Your chopper has a few flash acoutrements like a handy cloaking device, booster jets and an electro-magnetic pulse weapon as well as all the usual heat seekers, rail guns and rockets.

The sniping mode (which is played from the first person perspective) helps vary the gameplay and the game itself certain throws a lot bad guys your way so there's no time to sit back and think: "Haven't I done this before?"

Fireblade is certainly worthy of a place in your PS2 collection if you haven't discovered the simple joys of a shoot 'em up yet.