AO Tennis 2 Review: Break Point
Ryan Bloom / Mar 26th, 2020 No Comments
Although tennis is recognized as the most popular individual sport in the world, it has been underrepresented in gaming for a number of years. The end of franchises like Top Spin and Virtua Tennis left a Wimbledon-sized void that has yet to be filled. AO Tennis 2 doesn’t have everything you’d expect from a sports simulation, but it does a solid job of filling that void.
The core gameplay feels a lot like its real-life counterpart, with players having to skillfully set up their opponents and execute shots at the right moment. Correctly timing different shot types — flat, spin, lobs and volleys — while trying to aim provides depth and nuance without being overly complicated. However, inconsistent player movement and animations hold the gameplay back.
At times, movement seems predetermined, and players are sometimes unresponsive to user controls, especially when it comes to quick changes of direction. It can be frustrating when players run down shots that look like sure-fire winners, then fail to move into position for seemingly easy volleys. Animations can throw you off your game as well, with player characters starting to fire up for shots before a button input has been touched. Part of this problem stems from the game’s hit system. Players can fire off more powerful shots by holding down the shot button and letting go once a meter is filled, but this means shot animations can start up while players are still on the move. Thus, it can be difficult to transition smoothly from moving your player to aiming your shot.
Opponent AI is not overly strategic, and players can achieve victory in AO Tennis 2 by executing well-timed drop shots and aggressively rushing the net. It is a good strategy, especially for less skilled players early on in career mode, but it is a bit formulaic for a sports sim.
Career mode is where AO Tennis 2 excels. Matches are spiced up with the ability to react negatively or positively after each point — be strategic, because this will impact your reputation. Not only is strategy important in matches, but it is also integral off the court, where players must balance schedules to account for fatigue, skill-building and potential prize earnings. It can be easy to chase prize money through weekly tournaments because currency is the easiest way to improve your player character. Users can purchase attribute upgrades, as well as the services of coaches, sports scientists and more. However, winning is challenging without rest, and building skills is impossible without training. Planning and spending money wisely helps players perform their best.
AO Tennis 2’s customization tools are one of its strongest features. Licensed players like Rafael Nadal and Monica Puig appear in the game, but the lineup of official players and stadiums is lacking. Access to community-created players and courts offsets this nicely, and the community has already used the game’s deep customization tools to virtually recreate some of the best tennis athletes and well-known stadiums in the world. These can even be imported into career mode, so players can choose to get what they want out of AO Tennis 2.
AO Tennis 2 has some unforced errors when it comes to gameplay, and with rhythm being so important in tennis, those can be hard to overlook. But a surprisingly deep career mode that can deliver even more depth with the game’s strong customization suite should satisfy fans of the sport.
tags: AO Tennis 2 , AO Tennis 2 Review , Big Ant Studios , review , tennis , Top Spin , Virtua Tennis