With out a main new tennis sport because the final console era, there’s a lot using on AO Tennis, an formally licensed sport themed across the Australian match of the identical title. Sadly, the ultimate product feels half-baked and rushed, as a result of AO Tennis is a sport introduced down by a irritating lack of polish and poor presentation.
The sport’s controls and subpar shotmaking mechanics go away a lot to be desired, particularly for a title that shares its title with such a prestigious match. Along with the standard face-button setup for the varied sorts of photographs that may be performed (equivalent to slices and spins), AO Tennis provides an choice the place gamers can use the precise joystick to serve and play photographs. Whereas a good suggestion in concept, the result’s far too simplistic and feels clunky. The sport robotically selects one kind of shot for you each time with this methodology, which, though appropriate for newcomers, will make you need to revert to the face buttons anyway because of its lack of depth.
Even with such primary shotmaking controls, AO Tennis does a poor job implementing them. The sport goals for a tried-and-true system of holding an applicable shot button to be able to enhance energy earlier than letting the shot fly. However the system is inconsistent, and much too typically you’ll miss, use the incorrect shot, use an excessive amount of energy for no discernable cause, or just not react to the oncoming ball in any respect. And that is in case you’ve managed to reach on the shot within the first place.
Motion in AO Tennis is unresponsive and clumsy. Sprinting back and forth to chase down photographs appears like an impossibly useless try each time, and to make issues much more futile, there isn’t any diving mechanic both. There are additionally random events the place you may end up robotically pulled in direction of the ball, no matter what buttons you might or might not be pushing. This troublesome motion system makes AO Tennis a irritating sport of untamed guessing; it is a gamble between precise responsiveness, or dropping a rally as a result of your participant does nothing in any respect.
Must you anticipate appropriately and time a shot correctly, do not count on it to land the place you need it to both. Every shot kind is wildly unpredictable with regard to the place it can land and the way a lot energy is behind it, no matter how completely you timed the facility gauge. This throws regular tennis methods out the window in favour of unrealistic methods to win factors, equivalent to hitting drop photographs off 200km/h serves. Previous the novelty issue of hitting error-free drop photographs at will, the rallies in AO Tennis are merely jarring and unsatisfying to play.
All of the aforementioned mechanical issues are amplified even additional in AO Tennis’ lackluster doubles mode. The expanded courtroom margins and the near-lifelessness of gamers on display exasperates the sport’s shotmaking issues and render doubles to a barely playable characteristic.
Every match can also be noticeably missing in environment and gloss, which might be attributed to AO Tennis’ bare-bones presentation. There aren’t any commentaries, no crowd interactions, no entrance music, no pre-match greetings or handshakes, no post-match congratulations, and no trophy shows, even in case you’ve gained the entire Australian Open match. The venues themselves are additionally rendered in a mediocre style; there’s virtually no element to the totally different sorts of courtroom surfaces, and also you would not know the distinction between Rod Laver Area or Wimbledon’s well-known Centre Courtroom if it weren’t for the change in color scheme.
There are additionally some obtrusive omissions and very odd selections that really feel like straight-up errors at greatest and corner-cutting at worst. There aren’t any in-game tutorials to correctly clarify how every thing works; Rafael Nadal’s distinctive on-court grunts are weirdly reused for random laptop opponents; each single participant (together with iconic, real-life professionals) has virtually the very same shotmaking motions; and the in-game referees often get line calls incorrect, equivalent to calling “let” in the course of a rally.
Sadly, AO Tennis’ poor presentation extends past the match courtroom. There are a selection of sport modes obtainable from the onset, however every one is sorely missing in polish and even mildly fascinating options. Profession mode lets you create your individual participant and take them on a journey from rookie to Grand Slam champion. However apart from enjoying tournaments and incomes cash to be able to enhance your participant’s abilities, there’s completely nothing to do moreover match play. There aren’t any coaching mini-games, follow courts, or perhaps a rudimentary simulation of a tennis profession off the courtroom, equivalent to press conferences or increase an entourage of coaches and physiotherapists. There’s a particular Australian Open match mode, but it surely’s as bland because the matches in Profession mode. You merely slog by way of the 128 male or feminine participant draw after which do it another time as soon as the finals are performed.
Must you not need to create your individual character, AO Tennis has a roster of real-life professionals so that you can select. A complete of 18 professional gamers are at the moment obtainable to play, together with Rafael Nadal, Angelique Kerber, and a contingent of Australian gamers equivalent to Sam Stosur and Ash Barty. However the lack of extra recognisable superstars equivalent to Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, or Serena Williams does diminish the star wattage of AO Tennis a bit, particularly for informal gamers.
AO Tennis’ customized participant creation software does have sufficient options to allow you to create different real-life professionals, and these creations might be shared on-line with different gamers. Having stated that, the variety of obtainable particular person choices are fairly restricted, so crafting a few of tennis’ most original seems to be (equivalent to a long-haired Andre Agassi) will not be doable.
However the small roster of licensed professionals obtainable are given an unlucky highlight in AO Tennis due to horrible visuals and facial animations. Every real-life professional seems to be picket, and so they barely meet the usual set by the Top Spin and Virtua Tennis franchises years in the past.
The developer, Huge Ant Studios, has promised to repeatedly enhance AO Tennis all year long, promising an formidable slate of content material that features new gamers, occasions, and sport modes. However with its poor presentation, lack of content material, and irritating controls, AO Tennis in its present state is subpar at greatest, and requires way more refinement to even meet the usual of final era’s tennis titles. Somewhat than a Roger Federer-esque ace, AO Tennis is extra akin to a double fault whose photographs do not even make the online.