While it’s been a long time since I’ve personally held a racket, it had been even longer since I had played an actual Tennis title that did not start with the words “Mario Tennis”. Coming from studio Big Ant Studios and published by Bigben Interactive, Australian Open (AO) Tennis 2 was quick to remind me of the real rules and that a custom made PY starting out his career was going to be a hell of a lot harder than using a pro like Rafael Nadal.
Unless you’re good enough to start off without doing the tutorials in order to learn the lays of the court, there are three main modes available to you. The first is going straight into the Australian Open with any real pro player, the second is to start up a career with either a custom designed character in terms of both looks and stats, and the last is to take your skills online. Making the mistake of starting off my new career and flunking my first training session, I went to get some practice and saw just how different AO Tennis 2 can be until you’ve leveled up and really developed your custom character into a force to be reckoned with.
Creating your character is more than just adjusting your hair, beard, shorts and shoes to match with your preferred color combination in which that alone with all of the options present could take quite a fair amount of time. Creating your character will define your playstyle as you are given a monetary budget in order to train your character into a specific playstyle. Do you want to specialize in top spin serve? Drop shot returns? Lobs? Or just flat out send it back? The initial choice is yours but it’s not where it ends as you can both level up your character and keep training those styles that suit you best.
Once you’ve decided to either make your own character or jump right into it with one of the pros, the gameplay becomes everything as you take your sneakers and your racket onto the court. The basic rules of Tennis are simple. One side serves, the other returns, the return must stay within the defined lines of either Singles or Doubles and mechanically? It plays so damned smoothly. The only thing that I wish I knew right before starting were exactly how to do the shots but that’s why there’s a tutorial.
To either serve or return the ball you can press and hold the buttons on your controller that both control the power of the shot as well as where you’re planning on returning it to the other side of the court. Because you only ever have to worry about the pressure by pressing the four separate buttons for both returning or serving, you never really have to think outside of those four styles unless you really want to start playing “dirty” by drop shotting it just slightly over the net. By doing this you force them to run so close that even if they return it they’ll be hard pressed to return it after you’ve sent it right back and over their heads near the back of the court. It’s not full proof depending on the skill of the player or the stats of the character, but it’s learning how and when to use these nuances that can change a losing match into a winning one.
The above is really where you’re going to see the difference between a brand new character and a pro. Using a starting character you’re going to have to be really careful on your timing as not holding a shot long enough for a serve or holding on too long and your ball may not even pass the net. As a pro? Hell that ball sailed right over making you wonder why you would even want to make your own when you can play at that skill level. And that’s where you have to decide for yourself how you want to play and if you’re willing to spend the time and effort into making your own character into a pro at the game.
The only issue that AO Tennis 2 suffers from is SUPER long load times. Once the game is loaded, things go by super quickly and smoothly but getting into any match or switching between the main menus and categories needs a bit of time so if you have anything to do before sitting down to a match? That’s the time to do it!