Review – Matchpoint Tennis Championships
We’ve had some faily decent tennis games being released over the past few years, such as Tennis World Tour 2 and AO Tennis 2, but they still felt a bit lackluster in some areas. Even though they were leagues better than other tennis titles released during the past decade, they still felt underwhelming when compared to some peak titles of the genre, such as the all-time classic Top Spin, for the original Xbox. Matchpoint Tennis Championships, from licensed gaming extraordinaires Torus Games (the same people behind the Ben 10 and Hotel Transylvania 3 games), sought to fill in that gap.
I had the chance of talking to the devs before the game’s launch, and I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard someone talk in such a passionate way about a AA tennis game such as them. The folks at Torus grew up playing tennis, just like myself, and wanted to deliver a banger of a title. Granted, tennis games suffer from a few issues, namely the nightmarish attempt to license enough players, venues, and competitions to make it appealing to fans of the sport, but they were up to the task. Matchpoint Tennis Championships does deliver, despite its somewhat rough presentation.
It all boils down to the gameplay. Previously, I had complained about tennis games rendering me unable to come up with strategies on the fly. I wouldn’t be allowed to be a “serve and volley” lunatic if I wanted to, for instance. Typically I would be forced to hit a ball the game wanted it to, running towards it the way the game wanted it to, and so on. I don’t remember the last time I have played a tennis game in which I actually felt free to do whatever the hell I wanted to, whether that resulted in a win or an embarrassing loss, like I can in Matchpoint Tennis Championships.
There is still a bit of autorunning involved in between shots, but I am free to approach the net or not. I am also given a small aiming reticule while I’m preparing a shot, letting me properly aim and come up with my striking strategies in the split-second I’m able to. Just like in real life. I’ll be really honest: gameplay-wise, there is very little I can complain about Matchpoint Tennis Championships. It nails its mechanics, and made me want to play many matches in sequence.
As far as content, I don’t think Matchpoint Tennis Championships outdoes the competition, but it gets the job done. It doesn’t feature star players like Nadal, Djokovic, or Federer, with some of its licensed players being controversial figures like troublemaker edgelord Nick Kyrgios. Its main licensed competition is the Australian Open. I would complain about it if it wasn’t for the big emphasis on a robust career mode that puts you in the bottom of the rankings, telling you to play smaller championships in order to garner more points (and prize money), at the cost of your overall stamina. On the other hand, you can forgo a week in order to train and improve your stats. It’s all about micromanaging and planning in advance.
I really liked this career mode, way more than I was expecting. It made up for the lack of licenses with the overall thought that none of us pay attention to the names of real-life tennis players down in the bottom of the ATP ranking. I didn’t care I was playing against a randomly generated Polish player with a mohawk. The game did a good job making me feel like both of us were up and comers trying to climb the ATP pyramid by partaking in smaller championships.
The only thing I didn’t like in Matchpoint Tennis Championships was its presentation, something that probably stemmed from two main factors: a small budget, and the fact that this game is also coming out on the Switch while featuring crossplay. I am sure the game had to be developed with the lowest common denominator in mind, resulting in a title with rough, but functional visuals. The quality of the animations was excellent, though, and so was the framerate.
It might not exactly be a pretty game when it comes to its presentation, nor does it feature the most robust of rosters, but Matchpoint Tennis Championships nails the essentials. With regards to its gameplay, I haven’t played a tennis game like this since the golden days of Top Spin for the original Xbox. As a tennis enthusiast, I was salivating for a game like this for many years. It lets me play and come up with strategies on the fly, just like I’d do in real life. Whether you decide to tackle a career or just play a quick arcade match, Matchpoint Tennis Championships delivers. It’s one grand slam of a game.
Matchpoint Tennis Championships is not exactly good looking, but it’s functional enough. The quality of the animations is surprising, though.
This is a tennis game that actually gives you free range to move and aim your shots where you actually want them to go, allowing for tennis enthusiasts to translate their real life playstyles into the game. I have little qualms beside the slight amount of autorunning involved between shots.
It’s tennis. It’s meant to be borderline devoid of music, or any sounds in general besides rackets and grunts. It basically gets the job done, but what little counts as narration in between points is beyond uninspired.
Fun Factor: 9.0
It just feels good to play. Whether you decide to tackle a career or just play a quick arcade match, Matchpoint Tennis Championships delivers. It’s the tennis game I have been waiting since Top Spin for the original Xbox.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Matchpoint Tennis Championships is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of Matchpoint Tennis Championships was provided by the publisher.