It seems like there is a dearth of good sports games outside of football (both kinds), especially for something like tennis. That’s why we were intrigued to find out what Tennis World Tour 2 had to offer, and whether it could replicate the feel of an actual tennis match, as well as deliver more than a handful of hours of gaming.
Having spent a solid week playing the game, though, it unfortunately does not deliver in either count.
First and foremost though, we need to state that we have not played the predecessor title which was released in 2018. That may be a good thing as publisher Nacon brought Big Ant onboard to develop this new title, which essentially means that we get to see the studio’s first crack at this tennis game.
Dive straight in
So how did they do? Well the experience here is very mixed. While some games offer quite a bit of tutorialisation (a bit too much in some instances), Tennis World Tour 2, which we’re calling TWT2 from here on out, offers very little. We jumped straight into an exhibition match without knowing any of the controls, which is not something we’re use to with sports titles.
We’re using EA as a reference here, and FIFA in particular, but more recent iterations of the game throw you straight into a friendly match to start things off, but all the controls are thoroughly explained to you. After to finish said match, you’re usually advised as to what level of difficulty is best suited for you.
This is not to say that Big Ant should have followed the FIFA formula here, but a different approach for newcomers to the franchise would have been better served here in our opinion.
Heading to the Tennis School on the Main Menu, should be your first port of call then, as it teaches you how the timing mechanics of the game works. That said, you can get by on your first attempt without them, although you’ll probably lose.
One aspect were a lot of care and consideration has been paid when it comes to explanations is the Cards section of TWT2. These cards serve as in-game boosts for different elements of gameplay, such as stamina, serving, forehands and power. There are also different tiers, offering more perks or greater quantities of a specific perk.
One can buy these with in-game coins earned from winning matches, and thankfully you can only get coins based on how you perform in-game, which there are no microtransactions to worry about.
Whether you actually need these is a different story, as we were able to play without them just fine, only redeeming our coins to see what kind of impact they actually had on gameplay.
On the whole we feel like a few hours of gameplay under your belt circumvents the need for packs or cards, but that said, there isn’t much else to spend your in-game currency on.
Now let’s switch to one of the most important element in any sports game. That’s right, licensing. Here TWT2 is just okay, with big name male players like Roger Federer (our personal favourite) and Rafael Nadal featuring. The entire top ten is not here though, with notable exceptions being Novak Djokovic.
On the female side of the draw, it is quite sparse unfortunately, with no Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams or Simona Halep present. As such, if you were hoping to play as your favourite tennis star, options are a little limited, with the same going for legends of the game too.
Whether that changes down the line, or more stars are added to the mix, remains to be seen.
The faces that have been digitally added to the mix though, are quite realistic, and you definitely know exactly who you’re playing with. The only notable players who looked a little odd were Frances Tiafoe and Madison Keys.
So what’s the actual gameplay like? Here, again the experience is mixed. We’re big fans of the pick and play ability of TWT2, and if you’re keeping your game solely on the baseline, the movement of players, hitting motions and flight of the ball all look solid.
When you head closer to the court, however, things start to get a little wonky, as players to not move in a natural way, and shots can definitely look odd.
If you’re playing in singles mode, this problem is less noticeable, but the same cannot be said for doubles, which naturally necessitates a lot more play at the net.
Shifting back to timing that we mentioned earlier, we quite like the way Big Ant has set this up. It’s not a case of one badly timed shot resulting in a loss point, but rather that poorly timed shots impact your ability to dictate a rally.
One aspect of the gameplay that did frustrate though is the reaction of your player being quite erratic given their proximity to the ball in a rally, with some instances where we thought we had a decent approach on the ball failing to yield a response when a button was pressed.
As such, reactions at specific points, namely the serve and initial return, needs some refining in our opinion.
Long term appeal?
Overall though, the gameplay is serviceable, with the big issue being that there is not enough to keep you wanting to play.
Perhaps is boils down to licensing again, with the 23 international stadiums on offer looking slightly like their real world counterparts, but clearly being highly templated versions.
For those wondering if South Africa has one, it does, and it’s called the Big Five Stadium. With naming like that, we were half expecting to see actual wildlife on the court.
It’s elements like that, and the fact that while you have real players from the ATP and WTA in the game, you cannot compete in official tournaments from either organisation. As such, it’s this aspect of TWT2 that Big Ant needs to work on if it plans to create more iterations in this franchise.
Currently listed at R899 on the local PlayStation Store, Tennis World Tour 2 feels like a game you’re better off waiting to be heavily discounted than spending your money on straight out the gate.