Review – AO Tennis 2

These are dark times for tennis video games. When was the last time we got an actually decent tennis game on a console? Tennis World Tour was terrible. Mario Tennis has fallen from grace with its awful Wii U iteration and its underwhelming Switch version. The less I talk about that terrible shovelware tennis title for Switch, the better. Finally, there was AO International Tennis, a game with a lot of potential that failed to meet expectations due to its terrible controls. That didn’t make developer Big Ant Studios give up, though. They took their time to fix gameplay issues, add more licenses, and try to come up with the best tennis game of the generation. Did AO Tennis 2 succeed? Let’s find out.

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Just as before, the character creator remains one of the game’s main highlights.

Big Ant Studios took criticism to heart. That was noticeable when I first jumped into a regular quick match just see if the controls have been improved or not. They have. Significantly. Playing AO Tennis 2 is nowhere near as irritating or frustrating as playing AO International Tennis. Your players are still a bit slow, but they actually run towards the direction the analog stick points them. Their reaction speeds have been improved. Aiming your shots is easier and you can actually control the strength of your strokes properly this time around. This isn’t as arcade-friendly as say, Mario Tennis, but it’s a lot more intuitive, easy to control, and above all, fun to play. That alone is enough for me to recommend AO Tennis 2 over its predecessor, but there were some other subtle additions to make the game a bit meatier than before.

An improved career mode has been added. You’ll create a character with really low stats and it’s up to you to figure out a way to start earning points at the ATP rankings, win Futures, Challengers, and even major ATP championships. All of them are unlicensed with the exception of the Australian Open, the tournament the game has been named after. This mode is pretty brutal, as you’ll start with pretty low stats. You’ll need to be patient, as it will take a while for you to become a star player in this mode. Maybe Big Ant Studios portrayed the hardships of becoming a professional tennis player too accurately. Well, if patience isn’t your thing, AO Tennis 2 still features lots of championship modes, as well as online multiplayer.

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The gameplay is actually not as infuriating this time around.

AO Tennis 2 still suffers from the small licensed roster of players, with less than thirty fully licensed famous players to choose from, with notable absences like Federer and Djokovic. The game still features the same detailed creation tools featured in AO International Tennis, however. This allows for you to download a huge amount of custom players that look convincingly like their real-life counterparts. The game also features a very detailed venue creator mode that lets you create your own tennis club. It features a main court with more than ten thousand seats, secondary courts, training courts, and allows you to decorate the entire venue with Sim City or Cities-levels of detail. I have no idea why this mode is so detailed, but I’m glad it is. It’s a nice little distraction.

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I don’t know why this venue creator mode is so detailed, but I’m really glad it is.

Even though AO Tennis 2 still features basically the same visual and sound designs from its predecessor, its gameplay has been vastly improved. It’s still rough around the edges and the progression system in its career mode is brutal at first, but this might as well be considered the best tennis game released during this entire generation. It can be fun for those patient enough to endure its detailed career modes, for those who just want to play some casual matches every now and then, or for those who want to create their dream tennis club with ten courts and a hedge maze surrounding them. There’s a bit for everyone in here.

 

Graphics: 6.5

The game has received some very slight, but still welcome, graphical improvements. What really matters is that the framerate is still great.

Gameplay: 7.0

It’s still slow at times, but the overall gameplay has been vastly improved. Shot placements and hit detections actually work as intended this time around, and your doubles partner actually has a brain for once.

Sound: 7.5

Same as before. It alternates between a better-than-average collection of tunes when you’re in menus and utter silence when you’re actually playing tennis.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The Career mode might be tough at first, but once you get the hang of the (much improved) gameplay, you’ll have a great time with AO Tennis 2. It also features more licensed players and modes this time around, resulting in a meatier package.

Final Verdict: 7.0

AO Tennis 2 is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of AO Tennis 2 was provided by the publisher.

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