Master the basics as an amateur player and work your way up throughout an action packed career to play against some of the circuits most well known faces as a pro and the chance for a shot at the number one spot in Big Ant Studios racquet sport simulator — Tennis World Tour 2.
Football, ice hockey, basketball, rugby and even cricket seem to make an appearance every year in the gaming calendar whilst it seems a while since tennis took centre court. Looking back there were some real stand out entries with Smash Court Tennis on the Sony PlayStation and the Virtua Tennis series lighting up the Sega Dreamcast as one of its most enjoyable franchises.
Tennis World Tour 2 looks to reclaim that past glory with fully realised player physics, super high resolution textures and a complete set of licenses for both players and equipment manufacturers. If that wasn’t enough, Tennis World Tour 2 introduces an interesting card mechanic designed to spice up the gameplay further by allowing players to deploy hands from their deck mid-match to gain the advantage.
Starting out at tennis school, Tennis World Tour 2 walks players through a few training drills in order to instill in you the difference between accuracy and power and how failing to time correctly can seriously debilitate your swing giving your opponent the advantage. With that down it’s time to dive into a number of other modes but the most interesting is easily the career mode.
Career mode in Tennis World Tour 2 allows you to create a very detailed avatar through which to take on the world. The number of customization options is impressive and although you can take a preset model into your career, it feels much more satisfying to create a digital likeness or adversely an absolute monster onto the court.
Career offers different match types and certain matches can’t be replayed so if you do lose, there’s no going back to fix a previous mistake, you just have to deal with it and bounce back. Playing (and hopefully winning) earns your character experience which as you progress will gain you a level up in addition to points to distribute in RPG-like fashion to four statistics which improve your abilities.
Rather than throw you into the deep end most of the starting matches are single game or single set affairs with either singles or doubles play offered but as you progress the matches are substantially longer. Given how long a full match can last, it’s appreciated that Tennis World Tour 2 offers a mid match save option to allow players to take a break and come back swinging when the time suits them.
Although in many sports games gameplay is paramount it’s also great to see licenses used well and to full effect. Everything in Tennis World Tour 2 is as you would expect when you sit down to watch Wimbledon, with the players and their likeness spot on, all the logos and sponsors you would associate with tennis are here and branding makes the difference between a technically accurate sim and something you can connect with.
Earning currency from the careen mode can be utilised to purchase new equipment should you wish but its key use is to supplement your player with skill cards. Carrying up to five of these into a match, each player can choose to deploy one or more cards at any time to offer them an advantage in terms of stats or to disadvantage their opponent.
Each card is ranked in terms of overall power and carries a number of uses. Cards are split across the key areas of endurance, power, precision and agility and may affect that statistic only. Increasing Stamina costs for a single game or decreasing forehand power for a number of games allows players to build a deck and hand to assist them in particular matches or challenges.
Playing the cards at the right time can be the difference between closing out a match or suffering a humiliating comeback by an opponent who was previously on the ropes so the card mechanics add a strategically important meta to an already great simulation.
Tennis is not easy to master though and Tennis World Tour 2 shows you this at every opportunity. Jumping into an exhibition with the top two stars – Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer — I struggled to score a few points, never mind a full game or set and it took some time working through the ranks in my career before I dared to try again. Opponents sometimes seem to have super human response times, especially in doubles matches, whilst my character just watches the ball sail by without raising a hand.
Looking beautiful, sounding great and with an authentic feel to it, Tennis World Tour 2 is an excellent take on the Tennis circuit whilst the addition of the card mechanic offers further strategy to a mainly action based game. Sometimes let down by its difficulty early on but definitely rewarding players who spend time mastering its mechanics it’s definitely worthy of your time if you enjoy Tennis.