After spending hours upon hours playing (and loving) the likes of Eleven Table Tennis and Walkabout Mini Golf on my Meta Quest 2, I’m always intrigued to see how accurately other sports can be re-created in virtual reality. It’s no surprise then that First Person Tennis: The Real Tennis Simulator caught my eye, especially with the excitement of Wimbledon just around the corner. Does it manage to offer an authentic tennis experience that’s just as enjoyable as those other games I mentioned? I think so, even if it does have a few issues here and there.
Check out some screenshots down below:
First Person Tennis looks to capture the sport in an authentic fashion, with players holding their racket (the Quest controller) and serving, hitting forehand shots, utilising the backhand, and trying to catch their opponents out by hitting from the baseline, landing drop shots, or lobbing from afar. All the rules apply here so you can’t hit the ball out of bounds, whilst you’ll also have to serve up accurate shots and keep on your toes to return any speedy balls that come your way.
Of course, tennis is a very mobile game, so it’s easy to think it wouldn’t work perfectly in virtual reality. Luckily, First Person Tennis offers a few options to handle this. One of the obvious is simply running in real-time around the court, though this demands a LARGE play space – something a lot of players (myself included) won’t have. Alternatively, players can automatically teleport to the ball to keep matches competitive and ensure they won’t be out of place to return a shot, whilst there’s also a more realistic auto-run option that’ll see your player automatically making their way to the ball. There’s even a running-on-the-spot option in place to try and make it feel like you’re actually working to get to the ball, but in honesty it just felt a little awkward for me.
There’s are a decent selection of movement options in place so it’s easy to find something that works for you. Personally? I think auto-run is the most convenient, but it’s going to be a player-preference thing.
“Whilst First Person Tennis isn’t always perfect with its physics or racket control, it felt accurate enough that I was able to control my shots and hit the ball how and where I wanted to.”
The core mechanics are pretty good and ensure the game feels like… well… tennis. Whilst First Person Tennis isn’t always perfect with its physics or racket control, it felt accurate enough that I was able to control my shots and hit the ball how and where I wanted to. The most awkward aspect to figure out was the power, which is something that’s always going to be a bit of an issue when you’re not actually holding a racket or physically hitting the ball – it’s something you do get used to, but it never felt perfectly accurate. It doesn’t stop the game being fun, but it does mean it’ll take a bit of practice to get used to simply pulling off accurately placed shots.
Interestingly, there are two ways to play: simulation and arcade. Simulation offers a more realistic take on the sport, meaning you’ve got to be more accurate with your shots, how you connect with the ball, and where you hit it. Arcade on the other hand is more forgiving and gives players a bit of leeway to hit the ball how they please. Again, it’s a player preference sort of thing, but it’s cool to see that First Person Tennis has flexibility to offer both a casual and realistic playing experience.
Players can work through a wide variety of tournaments in the game, with each spread across an array of environments and court types to reflect the real sport. Whilst none of these locales look especially impressive in-game (and don’t get me started on the clumsy character animations), the selection offered does at least bring a bit more variety to the experience. Still, the lack of a proper career mode was a little disappointing, especially since it could get a little repetitive just playing tournament matches over and over.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Luckily, online play fleshes out the experience, with players able to see who is online and directly challenge them to a match in a similar style to Eleven Table Tennis. It’s a cool idea that ensures you’re always free to play someone, even when playing single player or practicing. HOWEVER, the notification that pops up to show a challenge is a little off-putting and definitely needs to be decreased in size – players don’t ALWAYS want to play online, so having a challenge pop up on the screen in the middle of a rally was a little jarring.
Still, the online play will definitely keep players coming back for more, whilst I haven’t struggled to find other players to challenge so far. Sure, there are times where it has been a bit quiet, but I’ve managed to play plenty of different opponents and have had some really enjoyable showdowns (especially in those tight matches that go right down to the wire). It isn’t quite as addictive as Eleven Table Tennis, but I could easily see myself coming back for more if the community stays active.
First Person Tennis: The Real Tennis Simulator Review
First Person Tennis is an enjoyable tennis sim that offers (mostly) realistic physics, satisfying gameplay, and a fun online experience. It would have been nice to have a more in-depth single player mode to dive into and there are some areas where the physics can be a little iffy (it’ll definitely take some practice to get used to), but there’s enough depth in this VR take on the sport to keep both tennis newbies and experienced players entertained.
Developer: Mikori Games
Publisher: Mikori Games
Platform(s): Meta Quest 2 (Reviewed), PC VR