Other than Mario Tennis Aces and AO Tennis, there have not been many tennis titles of note released this console generation. Big Ant has been carrying the tennis simulation torch with their World Tour series but unfortunately hit another fault straight into the net.
Tennis World Tour 2 suffers from a terrible swing mechanic system that almost makes the game unplayable. Serving, for example, tasks the player with stopping a meter in the center of a semicircle then needs to press the button again at the right time to control power. Along the way, the player can aim using the analog stick but none of these three components are consistent or enjoyable. In fact, when the ball is tossed during a serve, the tutorial states to hit it when it reaches peak height. However, in my trial and error, I found that the player actually needs to wait for the ball to descend in order hit a perfect serve. After playing through the hour long tutorial, I literally double faulted my entire first match against the AI. You know you are in trouble when landing even a simple serve is impossible.
If you somehow serve a ball to the other player without penalty, returning shots is just as frustrating. Each face button on the controller is assigned to a specific type of shot but hitting it with power and accuracy is cumbersome. When making contact with the ball, the game grades each shot as it is made. No matter what I did, I always got a “too early” or a “too late” indicator. Apparently there is a way to get a perfect shot but this requires frame perfect accuracy and a bit of luck. The problem is, each bad shot usually hits the ball out of bounds or into the net. Hitting the ball back and forth is the main action in tennis so when this basic element is way too technical and inaccurate, rage quitting becomes more of a threat than the opponent on the other side of the net. Also, when the ball is returned to the player, your character auto-moves into position and it is super annoying as you wind up fighting the auto-control just as much as the stupid swing meter mechanics.
Even if the swing and serve mechanics worked and were fun, the rest of the game isn’t exactly loaded with features or an impressive roster of players. This is sim title so there cannot be super moves like in most Mario Tennis games as that wouldn’t make sense. Instead, players can unlock cards which can be used in-game to boost the player’s abilities or hinder the opponent. The attempt to spice up gameplay with these buffs and debuffs is admirable at best but isn’t enough to create that wow factor. Why would anyone care to increase stamina by 3% when it makes no noticeable difference? At least these cards do not cost real world money because there would be zero chance anyone would pay for them. The create-a-character option is also pretty bare bones and all character models look like sick vampires that have been turned into robots.
The character roster is also embarrassing light. Outside of Nadal and Federer, only the most hardcore tennis fans will recognize a single name.
Here is the player roster. Note, some are available as a pre-order bonus:
Alex De Minaur
Marat Safin (pre-order bonus)
Gustavo Kuerten (pre-order bonus)
Roberto Bautista Agut
Nadal is the cover athlete and the player is forced to play as him during the long tutorial segments. However, Nadal is left handed which makes lining up forehand and backhand shots for normally right handed players awkward and confusing.
New to this sequel is the ability to play doubles online or locally in four player human matches. There are also new animations but this feature is fleeting as it becomes laughable when both you and your doubles partner perform the exact same animation, regardless of playing as a male or female, at the exact same time. Instead of playing tennis, it can look more like a dance competition. There is a lack of overall polish too. The camera panning in the tutorial screen doesn’t even loop correctly, then UI and menu system is wonderful if you enjoy the color blue, and the lack of a soundtrack and crowd noise makes each match even more unexciting.
The world might be neglected of tennis games these last couple of years but Tennis World Tour 2 is like diving for a top spin winner and missing on a clay court – you are now covered in gross cray, your shoes and clothes are ruined, and you still missed the return. It is mess all the way around and no one wants to go near you.
Also available on PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch (October 2020 release).