Very early this year I got the chance to get back into a more serious style of digital Tennis with Big Ant Studios and Nacon’s AO Tennis 2 for the Xbox One. Moving to the end of the summer and into the fall, the studio and the publisher are back and taking Tennis action to the world stage with Tennis World Tour 2.
As AO Tennis 2 had been my first time back onto a more realistic court in quite some time, there was a lot that had to be learned from the ground up. How were drop shots being handled? Top spins, slices or lobs? It took some time under a rather rough career mode before finally caving and getting some training done because it was clear that I was missing something. Not to pull off the same mistake a second time within the same year, I went straight for the training sessions and I’m glad that I did because Tennis World Tour 2 is not the same beast as AOT2 was back in February.
Sporting a new interface and a lot of simplified modules, players can select from:
- Exhibition Matches;
- A Career Mode;
- Official or Custom Tournaments;
- Online Matches against others; or
- Several Tutorial Challenges to get you familiar with everything.
While playing an Exhibition Match or a Tournament are fun on their own, it’s really the Career Mode that keeps drawing me back in. A beginner and a no one, you get to create yourself from the ground up in order to hopefully find yourself as somewhat of a match for the greats over the course of time of your career.
Like a lot of other menu features, even the career mode felt a bit simplified but in a good way as there wasn’t any fluff to get in the way. From a main menu of five items, you can either go into a tournament, play an exhibition game, train, meet your coach or agent (and hire new ones), or finally take the day off to rest as you’ll need to from time to time to keep in tip top shape. Everything has been re-designed to go straight to the point and with the shorter load times? Unlike AOT2, I didn’t feel like I had the time to get up and do a bunch of chores before my match was ready. Now, if you want to play, you play.
While looking and feeling rather similar as I played both back and forth to make sure of a few things, Tennis World Tour 2 has had several adjustments and a lot of them were for the better. The other major change is to the gameplay that now feels a lot more natural as you don’t have a cursor to glide across the court for where you want your ball to go. Instead, you simply “feel it in your gut” and shoot. It makes the overall experience feel more immersive, as you simply adjust the tension on the thumbstick for about where you want to go and then make sure to hit the ball right. Perfect, too soon, too late, each of these will affect where and how far your ball goes.
Without the target though, and this probably my only complaint, some challenges are just stupid hard as while I can pull off drop shots in a match, while I can ace through the tutorial for them, I can’t for the life of me pull it off in a challenge. Even now, that challenge remains unfinished in both the Tutorials and for my poor Career player’s training which is a fair amount of experience points to help them level up. Instead, I’ve had to rely on gaining experience solely through matches. Otherwise, Tennis World Tour 2 provided a fairly decent Tennis experience.
Finally, in a bit of an in-game “loot crate” style, you can use prize money in order to buy new packs of ability cards that can be used during a match. Does this help make things more realistic? No. Can it help you win? Very much so! Coming in a few types and grades, ability cards allow for you to either increase your potential or decrease your opponent’s. Better accuracy, more power, or more stamina to dash back and forth as you’re sent running after the ball after losing control of the rally. Likewise, you can also decrease your opponent’s everything and like your own abilities, and depending on the strength of the card, if can be for one hit or the next several hits. Starting Tennis World Tour 2 up for the first time, you’ll be treated to several packs but after that? You’re on your own!