Tennis World Tour Review – It's Not Your Racket's Fault

I wasn’t a good tennis player in high school because I
didn’t have the mental strength necessary to succeed. Tennis demands
consistency in every stroke and the ability to move on from a bad point. That
becomes almost impossible in Tennis World Tour because the movement assistance
often works against you, and even well-timed strokes frequently go awry. If I
was on the court in real-life, I would have nobody to blame but myself – but in
this case it’s not my fault.

Tennis games have the complicated task of balancing the
movement of your player with the timing of your racket swing. It has to look
harmonious as you transition from a run animation into a swing, and it has to
feel responsive as it reacts to quick volleys and changes of direction. Tennis
World Tour bucks these conventions in the worst ways, automatically moving you
at times away from the ball (particularly during service returns or net
approaches) or sometimes not even responding to a ball well within reach.

Amusingly enough, the reverse is often also true. Balls
realistically out of reach are returned due to the poor collision between the
ball and your racket, making it look like the ball is being hit by an invisible
force.

Phantom surprises are also in store due to the game’s
inability to read your shot selection and placement. Rearing back to unleash a
topspin winner can inexplicably produce a weak, defensive slice. Cross-court or
down-the-line shots regularly go anywhere but where you plan. Without the
ability to execute a stroke strategy against your opponent, the chance for a
clear-cut winner into an open court puts you on edge, filled with doubt. Even
Pong had a reliability about it that this game lacks, and that was over 45
years ago.

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One of the big draws of this title was its career mode,
but its positives aren’t enough to keep you on the tour. You have a wide array
of skills to choose from, and I like that some of them only kick in at break
points, and that you can change your loadout between tournament matches. I also
like choosing off-the-court activities like a workout that bestows temporary
monthly bonuses, but overall managing your time and fitness through the
calendar system isn’t deep. Training exercises take you back onto the court,
which is the one place you don’t want to be. Thanks to a bug, you can’t even
select a different coach or agent; the game just reverts back to your original
staff.

As if the unfulfilling career mode wasn’t enough, at
launch Tennis World Tour does not have online multiplayer. Online doubles is also
coming this summer as a free update.

You
could reductively describe tennis as a sport where you hit the ball back and
forth. That would be unfair, since it strips away the strategy and physical
feats – which is exactly what Tennis World Tour does to the sport. In real-life
tennis, when you’re so frustrated that you yell and throw your racket like a
brat, it’s decorous for your opponent to ignore you and tighten the strings on
their racket. At least the A.I. in this game mutely shares a sense of
embarrassment, hoping that the moment passes.


Source: Game Informer