I am not a tennis player, nor have I ever set foot on the court. The closest I’ve ever been to the clay are my days of playing Top Spin for the original Xbox. I did pour an insane amount of hours into that game, mostly because it was the only game I had for my Xbox at first. Although, it was extremely enjoyable and did peak my interest in tennis. So is Tennis World Tour just what this fair weather tennis fan is looking for?
Tennis World Tour gameplay is pretty straightforward, or in other words, lacking. There is the basic exhibition matches, a highly recommended tutorial, and the create a character career mode. Sadly, online play is not currently available at the time of this review, although it was a promised feature up until launch. According to the developer, they will be updating the game to add online matches on June 12th, along side the Nintendo Switch and PC release.
Regardless of that marketing blunder, the game is extremely barebones when it comes to content. When making your character you’re choices range from generic male to generic female. The character creator is extremely lacking and the choices for your face and hair is abysmal.
But how does Tennis World Tour play? Well, not great is the short answer. Players never feel fully in control of their avatar. Smashing the swing button won’t do anything until the ball is near you, so the animations look stiff and scripted. Characters will be running one way and then hit the ball from a crazy angle. It just looks unnatural. I didn’t see any difference in the unique hits like slice, smash, and whatever else. Lob was the only return that seemed different to me, but that also could be because I am not very hip to tennis.
This inability to ever truly feel in control of your on-screen athlete diminishes the experience greatly. When you miss the ball it’s infuriating, but when you are standing right where you assume you should be and are smashing the return button but your character just stands there doing nothing, well that is just absolutely rage inducing. Hardly will you feel like you were beaten out by a superior skilled opponent. It always came back to sub-par gameplay design.
Speaking of sub-par design, after a handful of hours with the game I noticed a bug, or maybe that isn’t the correct term. I could “cheese” opponents but lobbing the ball in a far corner and then rushing the next and smashing it to opposite corner. I understand that is kind of the strategy for tennis, but the AI never seemed to learn or adapt. I would quickly climb the ranks in any tournament I was in. This is honestly when the game became a little fun. Although that fun didn’t last. That style of “cheese” quickly became repetitive and boring. Which pretty much sums up the whole gameplay experience of Tennis World Tour.
Tennis World Tour graphics are par for the course. On PS4 Pro the graphics never took my breath away or made me really stop and stare. This isn’t to say it looks bad, just not what players come to expect from a mid console generation sports game. The characters outfits look almost painted on, and the courts don’t really aesthetically look different. It’s painfully bland.
There is no story mode in Tennis World Tour, no narrative arc in your career mode. All sports games need to look at NBA 2k series and see how a narrative can fit nicely into a sports title. The lack of any driving force besides winning more tennis matches makes the slog of a career mode almost not worth it. Maybe if the gameplay was actually enjoyable then it would be worth the grind.
There is no dialogue, no rival that bests you at almost every turn. The game just lacks soul, it feels empty and shallow and the gameplay doesn’t hide any of these flaws. It’s easy to overlook some flaws or lack of features if the game is actually fun. Sadly Tennis World Tour is not.
I won’t beat a dead horse here. Tennis World Tour has a classic hook. Raise your rank, get cash, level your skills up. The workings are all here for a fun sports game. But the execution isn’t here. An ironic analogy for this game is in the game itself. Much like your character will just stand there and whiff at the tennis ball, Tennis World tour is a swing and a miss when it comes to fun all because of poor execution.
It’s difficult for me to recommend playing this game through once, or even booting it up more than that. So when it comes to replayability I don’t have a lot of positive things to say. My time in the game was an exercise in frustration and pausing the game to ask myself how is it possible I missed the ball. It’s just not fun.
This game is one of the most frustrating gaming experience in recent memory. It’s painfully mediocre across the board. The skeleton is all there for an at least fun game, but it just doesn’t seem to come together. Tennis World Tour is a double fault when it comes to a fun tennis game.
Note: GameOctane Editor Jason Germino received a code for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
Check us out at Opencritic!
+ It's the only true simulation style tennis game currently available
- Never feeling in control of your character
- Lacking a good character customizer
- No story
- Just not fun to play