Tennis World Tour 2 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 26.10.2020 2

Review for Tennis World Tour 2 on PlayStation 4

Older tennis game fans may remember Top Spin and Virtua Tennis, but for whatever reason, there hadn't been professional tennis titles for almost an entire console generation following the last entries in those series…until publisher Bigben Interactive rolled up with not one, but two games in 2018. Both AO Tennis and Tennis World Tour were rushed out to coincide with the real-life Australian Open and French Open events, respectively, but featured numerous patches that attempted to dramatically improve things in many areas. For the latter's sequel, it is AO Tennis' developer, Big Ant Studios, that has been brought on board to take the place of Breakpoint Studio and serve up Tennis World Tour 2.

It is difficult to ascertain whether the goal with Tennis World Tour 2 is to produce as realistic a tennis simulator as possible. Whether it tries to be or not, this is not the best tennis sim out there. That glory is still attributed to Tennis Elbow 2013 on Steam, which, when coupled with some of the best mods available, emulates real-life tennis pretty darn well, with trademark swings from many of the sport's top names incorporated into the gameplay. Tennis World Tour 2 verges more on the sim side than the arcade side, but being caught in that middle ground means fans looking for one or the other probably aren't going to find massive enjoyment either way.

Let's just start by calling out the ridiculousness that is locking tournaments away behind paywalls from day one. Anyone wanting to play in the official French Open event, in the Tie Break Tens tournament, or on the Estadio Manolo Santana and Owl Arena courts must purchase a separate DLC pack or go for the more expensive edition of the game. There is only one edition on Nintendo Switch, which includes all of this additional content, and it runs slightly cheaper than the PS4's "Ace Edition," meaning Switch owners are getting the better deal overall. A £19.99 Annual Pass on PS4 gives access to new licensed players and whatever other future content is being kept under wraps, but this expensive piecemealing of content is another example of disappointing money-making practices in the industry - but not surprising to see.

Screenshot for Tennis World Tour 2 on PlayStation 4

With that out of the way, there is a good selection of modes to get stuck into, ranging from exhibitions, tournaments, online play featuring promotions and rankings, the tutorial mode (always a good place to start), a meaty career mode, the ability to create a custom player, and diving into the new cards feature.

Why there aren't options in more games to increase font size is so strange in this day and age, because this game's text is seriously tiny, but anyway… Navigating to the tutorial brings a solid range of tasks to work through, but it has to be said that the lessons don't do a solid enough job of explaining when to hit the ball for the perfect shot. Indicators about striking the ball too early or late pop up with each hit (if you so decide to turn that option on), but it can be quite difficult with the limited chances available in a lesson to learn that timing window properly. You can totally mess up how you are hitting the ball, but as long as it lands in the target ranges on the court, you get a pass and can move on to the next challenge (there are some variations depending on the task). Weirdly, failing a task brings you back to the main menu, yet completing it allows you to do it again. In the end, the best place to get the precision down is by hitting the courts and playing in actual matches.

It has to be said that, even though there seems to be a knack for getting those perfect shots right, it is hard to get them down consistently, and without the ability to properly practice certain shots in a custom training mode (e.g. choosing to have the AI throw constant lobbed balls for you to practice smashes), it can take a while to really learn this game's finer details. It seems with harder difficulties that the window of opportunity becomes exceedingly small to hit those perfects, too, and high-ranked AI matches in themselves are already of such a pace that winning feels almost impossible against the pros.

Screenshot for Tennis World Tour 2 on PlayStation 4

Creating a custom player for the career mode is a great place to dive into, regardless of experience, because exhibitions and challenges are among the tasks offered to you as the weeks go by, with in-game currency earned to enter yourself into certain tournaments and purchase new and better equipment. Difficulty can be adjusted even mid-match, which can be interesting to alter on the fly just to get a gauge for whether you can keep up with the AI, but it is best to work through at a lower setting first. The calendar of the career mode is long, but it is a chunky feature that the bulk of time will be spent in Tennis World Tour 2. By pumping stat boosts and buying new gear, you can build a unique player that can be used outside of this mode. It is just a shame the range of options and overall look of custom characters isn't too hot, with graphical blemishes also appearing - in some cases causing bald spots to show on the up-and-comer's head!

The pace tennis can be played at, it can be difficult to emulate this feeling in video game format. Even the best mods in Tennis Elbow 2013 have players swinging and hitting balls that aren't connecting with their racquets. However, while Tennis World Tour 2 has its ups and downs on the gameplay side, there are just too many downs for it to feel like a consistently fun piece of reproduced tennis.

Since animations are generally the same for all players, there is little to no reading on the upcoming shot from the opponent. The manually controlled player often naturally steps back with each received shot, meaning you constantly must fight against this and keep pushing forward. Balls that are just behind the player can't seem to be reached for, and sometimes they just won't even go for a shot at all (whether it is close to the body or not), letting it run right past them. It is difficult to determine if it is just a case of the window to input a shot passing by (which always seems harsh), or something else is occurring. The high percentage of errors from the AI is another big factor in the annoyances of the gameplay. While it's great to win free points, the frequency does pose up questions.

Screenshot for Tennis World Tour 2 on PlayStation 4

There are times that rallies flow nicely, resulting in some moments of enjoyment, but the inconsistency is too difficult to ignore. This goes for the gameplay and the details that contribute to making up a match of tennis. Despite the solid list of official pro players in the roster (although there are huge omissions that must have been too expensive to sign - Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Simona Halep), the lack of shots unique to each player results in generic matches that look and feel the same. How can a legend like Rafa Nadal headline the line-up, yet his monster around-the-head forehand not be a part of his basic tools? Some personalised stances when on the receiving end of a serve are great to see, but that is about as far as it goes.

To further offset the immersion, every single male player has the same build, whilst the same goes for the women. Having lefties default to holding the racket in their right hand, and vice versa, when on a certain side of the screen when choosing a player is another notable distraction.

Things continue to take a turn for the worse with each point played. The option to disable jumping to camera closeups of players after points is lacking, but too often do players perform odd animations on these occasions, like getting overly joyous from winning a simple early point, or even belting the ball into the crowd upon winning a game (players are penalised for this in real life, though those reactions are often in anger). It seems only the X button skips the animations and camera jumps, which can sometimes result in the player beginning their serve if not careful. The serve indicator can sometimes be obscured by the crowd and other background colours, so some camera angle changes, or very attentive observation is necessary at times.

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Crowd noise doesn't quite follow the story of the match, either. Long rallies and great points don't often result in the expected cheers, nor when playing on match point. For the most part, it's all a little subdued and would benefit from some extra attention to detail in the timing of applause. It must be said that the lack of commentary is a big plus in this reviewer's book, though! There is nothing worse than being stuck with awful commentary in real life sports, so to only hear the hits of the balls and cheers of the crowd here is like music to the ears.

The card feature is the final selling point of Tennis World Tour 2, but honestly, it is more of a hindrance than a boon. Designed as a way to help players out during a match, you can unlock and choose up to five cards to use on the court, granting little boosts for the next few shots, such as increased hitting power or accuracy - even some that hurt the stats of the opponent. The game has received several patches and improvements since launch, and the option to play without the card feature in exhibitions is one of the additions - a welcome one at that! With the tiny text, it can be so hard to even read the details of the cards selected, but it is just a distraction to gameplay overall. It is more fun to spend the in-game money on gear for your career mode character than randomised card packs, and, indeed, it is unfortunate that the disabling of cards doesn't extend to tournaments and career mode.

Screenshot for Tennis World Tour 2 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Tennis fans are so limited these days, and Tennis World Tour 2 does not deliver enough to consider it a great game. Too many graphical glitches, inconsistencies across the board in terms of gameplay and the wider matchday details, copy-pasted player physiques and complete lack of personalised shots, a shoehorned mid-match card feature that only distracts - oh, and locking major tournaments and courts behind day one DLC are just some of the reasons Big Ant Studios double faults with this one. With more time, care, and no doubt a bigger budget, something decent could arise, because the makings are there, but patches might not be enough, and focus now might be better spent on a hopeful third game.

Developer

Big Ant Studios

Publisher

Nacon

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Wow, what's going on with the recent poor form for tennis games? Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

With the right attention in many little areas, this could turn into something pretty great. I don't have faith that will happen, but we'll see!

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