I’ve got a fond memory of playing tennis video games that dates all the way back to Anna Kournikova’s Smash Court Tennis on the original PlayStation. It’s a sport that really lends itself well to gaming, with the simple match setup and strategic placement of shots proving easy to replicate with a controller. Whilst I’m a fan though, I haven’t actually played a tennis game in a while (I’ll blame that on the death of both the Virtua Tennis and Top Spin franchises). What better time than now with the release of Tennis World Tour 2 on the PlayStation 5 to dive back in then?
It’s probably worth mentioning from the get-go that Tennis World Tour 2 already released on last-gen consoles last year and it wasn’t really that well received, with the game currently averaging a 56 on Metacritic. Still, with the promise of improved visuals, faster loading times, and all previously released DLC packaged in (as well as a few new pieces), it seems like this next-gen release of the game is certainly an improvement over that which came before it.
The gameplay of Tennis World Tour 2 ultimately feels ‘easy to play, but difficult to master’, with the focus on timing when playing shots certainly factoring in on your success. You’ll have to hold the shot button when lining up each strike of the ball and then release it at the point of contact to achieve the most accuracy, with mistimed attempts lacking momentum and often heading wayward off the court. It feels more realistic than gamers might be used to if they’ve only played the likes of Mario Tennis Aces as of late, but it’s also all the more satisfying when you win a rally after strategically placing shots all over the court to wear your opponent out.
Be warned though: the AI of your opponent can be tough as nails and they’re equally likely to send you all over the court in a spin. It actually took me a few matches before I was comfortably able to win sets with ease, especially in the career mode where your successes are drip-fed to you thanks to the superiority of your more experienced rivals. There’s definitely a learning curve in place, so I’d recommend you hit up the Tennis School before you make your way to court.
On the flip-side, there will also be occasions where your opponents pull off ridiculously bad shots for no apparent reason. It can be a little inconsistent and seeing the likes of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal miss easy straightforward hits did break the immersion a little. But hey, you’ve got to take any point you can get, right?
Whilst you’re able to jump into quick exhibition matches in both singles and doubles competition, it’s the career mode that feels most significant in Tennis World Tour 2. It’s your standard tennis career fare really, with plenty of different matches and tournaments to participate in (some of which are officially licenced), whilst you’re also able to improve your player’s capabilities and appearance along the way. It’s simple but offers more than enough to find yourself engrossed by your many successes (and failures).
Interestingly, Tennis World Tour 2 also has a card system in place that allows you to equip a variety of buffs to your player beforehand. Whilst it’s inoffensive, I didn’t really enjoy toying with the system; I just wanted to dive in and play tennis for the most part, with the potching of cards just to make my player a little bit more efficient on court feeling like a bit of a nuisance more than anything. Thankfully, you’re not forced to use the cards in the career mode, so it doesn’t affect the core experience too much.
For all it’s worth, Tennis World Tour 2 is a half-decent tennis game, albeit one with a few niggly annoyances here and there. How does it look and feel on the PlayStation 5 though?
Visually… it’s ok. You shouldn’t expect to be too blown away by the next-gen graphics of the game, even if it’s played at a smooth 60fps and at 4K with fancy ray tracing and particle effect on show. It just looks a little bland in places, whilst the character models are VERY hit and miss. Speaking of character models, their animations could be a little limited and didn’t always match up that well to the athleticism of their actions. It meant the in-game action could look a little janky in places, especially when running back and fore across the court and playing out long rallies. I will give some credit to the design of the courts you can play across though, with each certainly looking the part and bringing with them the atmosphere you’d expect from a high-stakes tennis match.
At least the loading times are super quick throughout, whilst the addition of new licenced events is always a welcome treat. There are forty-eight real-life players to play as too, with a rich selection of some of the best male and female tennis players available – it’s certainly an impressive number for a tennis game, whilst it’s also nice to be able to get Andy Murray back to winning ways over the world’s best (who cares if it’s done virtually, right?).
Tennis World Tour 2 offers a decent tennis experience, though some inconsistencies with the AI of your opponents and lacking visuals do see it falling short of the greats. The actual gameplay itself can be pretty fun though, with plenty of room for strategy and finesse when you start to get good at the game – believe me, there’s nothing more satisfying than winning a drawn-out rally.
Add to that the enjoyable career, impressive tournament selection, and sheer number of players on offer and it’s easy to see that Tennis World Tour 2 is certainly a step in the right direction for the sport on consoles. It might need to fine-tune some aspects of its design, but there’s a good time to be had on the court.
Developer: Big Ant Studios
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Click here to visit the official website.