Title: Tennis World Tour
Publisher: BigBen Interactive
Genre: Sports, Simulation, Multiplayer
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 29/10/2018
Price: £44.19– Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.
What the Developers say
THE BIGGEST STARS IN TENNIS
Play as one of the 30 best tennis players in the world: Roger Federer, Angelique Kerber, Stan Wawrinka and many of the sport’s legends.
PERFECTLY REPRODUCED MOVEMENT
Realistic animations, carefully reproduced in the game using motion capture technology, help you learn all of the shots used in modern tennis: the slice, lob, top spin, etc.
EVERY PLAYING SURFACE
18 types of courts: hard, clay, grass, carpet and even hardwood. Each surface affects the playing conditions.
A COMPLETE CAREER MODE
Create your player and experience a career worthy of a professional: training, tournaments, staff management, equipment purchases, etc.
AN UNEQUALLED TACTICAL DIMENSION
Decide what strategy to adopt for each match and use your skill cards to defeat your opponents.
Synonyms: catastrophic, calamitous, cataclysmic, tragic;
- causing great damage.” a disastrous launch hindered the sales of Tennis World Tour”
- highly unsuccessful: “Tennis World Tour had a disastrous launch.”
When asked why I like to review games, it is moments like this that I call upon to provide the answer. After the initial release of Tennis World Tour on PS4 and Xbox One in June, the publishers, BigBen Interactive, took to social media to offer an apology:
“We’d like to apologize for the slow pace of updates following the launch of Tennis World Tour. Game development is a complex process and despite our continuous hard work, there have been a few roadblocks that stalled our planned patch schedule. We’re committed to providing a fantastic Tennis experience for fans of the sport and for everyone who purchased the game. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working non-stop to iron out these issues and will have information to share in the near future. We are sorry for the wait but would like to thank you for your patience and understanding as we further build upon the TwT experience.”
If ever you wanted a crash course in how not to launch a new title, this is it. To release a game to the gaming community without crucial features such as ‘online multiplayer,’ and then subsequently fail to inform them until after they have purchased it, is nothing short of a sin. Fast forward a few months, and Tennis World Tour releases for the Nintendo Switch. Now, the gamers of this world are intelligent, expectant and inundated with gaming opportunities. They also do not forget easily – myself included. The reason I enjoy reviewing games? To be afforded opportunities like this to evaluate and analyse a game that I otherwise would not have bought. So, in the privileged position to be playing TwT without having had to spend my hard-earned money, I embark on a Rapid Review of Tennis World Tour!
With any sporting title, I tend to look at three key areas, and these will be explored in this review. First of all, I focus on the ‘look’ of the game – does it look realistic? Is it graphically accurate? Does it create an atmosphere? Second on my list is the ‘feel’ of it – does it represent real-life gameplay? How do the characters respond? How fluid is the action? Finally, assuming the game has nailed the two essentials mentioned above, I look at the content – how many gameplay modes does it offer? What is the replayability like?
Starting with the graphical elements of the game, the early signs are pleasing. The in-game menus are clean and responsive, indicating that it has been developed and published by a ‘AAA’ company. As well as this, the tutorials and options are presented well and offer clear direction on what to do next.
Concerning the on-court action, the graphics are good if unremarkable. I didn’t look at them in awe nor did I look at them in disgust. The capabilities of the Nintendo Switch hardware are not being tested. However it does the job: the different surface types of each court are engaging and different, the players’ defining features have been considered, and the minor details such as the speed of serve and the clock are present and correct. I found it unusual to experience such small detail as the calf muscle on my player but then to see the crowd – in a scene reminiscent of a Mexican wave – cross one leg over the other to get comfortable. This was the first example of inconsistency, and unfortunately, is not the last.
Realism, for me, has to be the end-game for any developer producing a sports title and it seems the developers themselves echo the sentiments. The Nintendo eShop advertisement refers to: “realistic animations, carefully reproduced in the game using motion capture technology, help you learn all of the shots used in modern tennis: the slice, lob, topspin, etc.” Although I enjoy the tennis mechanics on offer in this title, I cannot agree with the sentence as mentioned above as it fails to translate to what is occurring on screen. The gameplay is on par with many other tennis titles of years gone by and it is an enjoyable experience. It was great to have a tense rally with my opponent, only to catch him off guard and produce a lob which he could not return. Equally, a well-placed slice is just as effective, and I was pleased to see that the game rewards you for experimenting with your shots.
In other efforts to provide a realistic Tennis experience, the game makes use of stamina which has an adverse effect on your players’ ability to get to shots or return them with any real power. I was regularly making use of the ‘sprint’ function as I moved from one end of the court to the other. However, this would only work for so long before my character couldn’t take it anymore! This was an element of the game that I thoroughly enjoyed, and it helped to improve the authenticity of the simulation. It also supported in the use of perks, something which can be accessed in the ‘Career Mode.’ Here, you can select a number of perks based on your level that fall into four categories: Stamina, Power, Control and Agility. There are just under 100 to choose from, and each has an impact on the proceedings on the court.
There are elements to Tennis World Tour which can put a severe dampener on any atmosphere they were hoping to achieve, and it will be the inclinations of the individual player which determine how severely this affects your time with the game. The sound is poor – the commentary offers very little, and the crowd fail to provide any real encouragement or sense of enjoyment which is a shame. Regularly, I was playing a cup final in a half-empty stadium, and when I won, I was congratulated with some light clapping. Elsewhere, there were often times when the game would not register my shot. I would attempt a return just how I tried every other, and my player would make no attempt to reply. This was most disappointing and something I could overlook on occasion as it didn’t happen frequently, but it was most annoying when it did.
Content is King in sports titles, primarily because once the initial enjoyment of familiarising yourself with the gameplay mechanics is complete, there has to be ample reason to return. Offering three distinct game modes: Exhibition, Career and Online Play, there is everything we have come to expect from a sporting title, and they all play out as we have come to expect too.
The Exhibition allows you to play a one-off custom match or a tournament with custom rules. This can be against the AI or local split-screen.
The Career mode has you create a custom character and embark on a journey from Rank 100 to Rank 1. Each month of a season requires you to make choices, do you participate in a cup, play an exhibition match, visit the gym, complete training or rest to recuperate some stamina before your next big cup later in the year? I thoroughly enjoyed the career mode elements and the difficulty was as I had hoped: not too tricky but providing just enough challenge. I did find it odd, however, that in a month you could only select one option. It was okay if I entered a cup competition, but if I chose to work out, then that would be my only event for June. Again, realism points lost…
Online play, a feature not available at launch, subsequently released as a patch. Without it, this game would have run its course quite quickly. The Training School and Career Mode would not have been sufficient. It pains me then to say that I could not find a single soul to play online against. It may have been the time of day, or those players are so engrossed in the career mode. However, I fear it may be that the damage was done with the poor marketing choices and the game hasn’t sold well. I endeavour to continue to try and find an opponent, but there are only so many occasions I can sit staring at the ‘Waiting for players…’ screen.
The launch of this title has been a sorry state of affairs. From missing gameplay modes to ripples online that the game was released incomplete to capitalise on the French Open in the hope of maximising sales, Breakpoint and BigBen Interactive have a lot to answer for. Money talks, and short of offering refunds to those gamers affected by misrepresented marketing, there is little that could be done to rebuild relationships. That being said, Tennis World Tour does provide an experience that I found quite enjoyable. The gameplay is its, and there is a lot of fun to be had here. The lack of online players spoils any replayability, and I hope to see this improve.
All in all, Tennis World Tour has laid the foundations for a realistic sporting simulator that I believe, with much more care and attention could be used to create a sequel. A sequel which is made with the gamers at the forefront of minds, and money languishing somewhere at the back.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
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