As a sucker for a tennis game I recently discovered that Tennis World Tour 2 was released in September of this year. Being available digitally, or physically only from the supplier means the price is very restricted. I decided to take the opportunity to play Tennis World Tour on the Nintendo Switch as I had previously not had the opportunity.
Tennis World Tour was created by Breakpoint Studios and released in May 2018. The team behind the development were the same team responsible for the amazing Top Spin series of games. the team were quoted stating that they were working on Tennis World Tour with the mindset that it was in fact ‘Top Spin 5’.
Who doesn’t love a sports game?
I am a tennis buff and proud to say this. I have played probably 98% of tennis games available, so getting Tennis World Tour installed and setting up my character for career mode was nothing short of exciting. However, the excitement soon diminished into complete and utter frustration and shock at a game which I can only state is the single worst tennis game in the history of sports games.
I have played everything from ‘bedroom coders’ versions of tennis to Pong, to Jimmy Connors Tennis on the NES and the fantastic Top Spin series across multiple generations. Tennis World Tour is the single most unpolished game I have ever endured.
The Cons – or some of them at least
The list of issues with this game is probably endless. Alain Falc of BigBen Interactive – the studio who published the game – was quoted stating the game was only 20% complete at launch due to their attempt of capitalising on the French Open tournament at the time. They launched the game early at distributors who had no contractual right to return the game so that they knew they could make a profit. Straight away we can see that the studios behind this game were basically serving underarm to the consumer.
Playing through career mode it is clear to see how rushed this game was. To summarise the issues easier I will use bullet points to highlight the issues I have noticed within five days of gameplay.
This is not a definitive list
- Spelling mistakes, spelling mistakes everywhere. These are usually where the text “Set Point”, “Match Point”, “Second Serve” etc appear in a match and no spaces are between the words.
- The commentary – whilst not too repetitive it comments on excellent types of shots that were not made. For example an excellent forehand when a backhand has been used, or an excellent return when there has been a 40-shot rally.
- The controls are pretty much useless in the fact that your chosen shot is often replaced by the computer with another random shot type. Making a top spin forehand may end up flat, or sliced or lobbed depending on how the AI sees fit. Unfortunately making your way through the training exercises thus becomes overly frustrating when you are asked to hit targets with specific shot type and the controller keeps getting overridden.
- Some shots are useless. The inside-out button, which should turn the player into a forehand position when a backhand is usually preferable may as well not exist as it never works. The dropshot button may as well be called a mini-lob as it always allows time for the computerized opponent to reach the ball.
- The are several glitches, some of which I managed to capture on footage. Examples are a player on one side of the court can magically still hit a ball that is 6 meters away from them. There are visual glitches where the player becomes heavily distorted like Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck it Ralph. There are also gameplay glitches where your player will refuse to hit the ball, even though they are standing in the correct position and you are hammering the shot buttons.
- Serves. The dynamics behind serves are utterly ridiculous. Placing the ball is incredibly hard. However the most frustrating aspect is the “safe” option. Tapping the flat shot button will allow the player to place a “safe” serve into the other side of the court. Obviously this is great when you are under pressure. However, the amount of times the computer decides that this is the time to award you with a double fault is ridiculous.
- Docked mode is awful. Handheld mode is relatively streamlined, but when in docked mode the sound becomes out of synch, the framerate drops severely and often the images pause even whilst the gameplay is continuing in the background (causing you to miss shots).
- There are other bugs, such as loading up career mode too quickly when the cartridge has loaded causes it to close the software. There are scoreboard bugs that occur where the current set cannot be seen, meaning you have to remember what the score is.
- The gameplay itself is almost an effort at realism with an arcade-like approach. The opposition will ALWAYS get to your ball no matter how hard you hit it, or at what angle. This means that strategy is often useless and some career matches later down the line can easily last 2 hours a piece against higher ranked players due to the rally lengths.
I believe I could go on endlessly to highlight flaws in the game. The most embarrassing thing about this game is that is was dubbed ‘Top Spin 5’ before launch. I personally love a challenge when it comes to tennis games, but fighting against a poorly developed game more than the actual opponent is frustrating.
I am not sure what Tennis World Tour 2 will have to offer, and yes – I will still probably purchase it as I am a complete mug when it comes to tennis games. However my score for this game has to be honest, and even though I am still painstakingly working my way through career mode, my final verdict is as follows.
A poor attempt at a game, let alone a tennis game. Coupled with the fact that they deliberately released it early to companies that could not return the game means that BigBen is a devious company that deserves this rating.