Many moons ago, I used to be an avid amateur tennis player and loved nothing more than tuning into Wimbledon to watch the Brits disappoint on the world stage. Ahh, memories. However, as with most sports last year the pandemic put a stop to that, instead leaving a void that was partially filled by the release of Tennis World Tour 2. Now, just six months later, it’s back with some improvements.
Enter Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition. This version of the game comes with all the content available for the original, as well as graphical enhancements. This means it has 4K enabled visuals which run at 60fps along with ray tracing and faster loading times versus the original. As a result, it’s only playable on the Xbox Series X|S consoles.
As soon as you boot the game up, you’re taken on a brief tour of your own, whether you like it or not. This takes you through the menus, explaining what’s on offer in the game. Before starting properly, you can swing by the Tennis School to practice the basics, but why stop there? There are also advanced moves to master before you head out into the competitive world. You can also return later to take on challenges that you unlock as you play the game.
Controls are the bedrock of a game such as this, and in Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition it’s all about timing. The better this is, the more likely that you’ll place the ball where you want it to go.
Returning shots is pretty straightforward, as is serving. However, directing the ball feels a little out of your control at times, whilst at others it’ll land exactly where you planned. It’s hit and miss, but the inconsistent nature is highlighted when you are trying to nail the target boxes at the Tennis School. In matches it soon becomes clear that if you want your first serve to land legally, you’re best not to try to put any direction on it at all, because it’ll nearly always end up being a fault.
It’s difficult, borderline impossible, to figure out how to read your opponent so you stand a chance of reaching their return shots to get a rally going. However, if you go the wrong way, even for a split second, you’ve had it. This is because you need to sprint right up to the ball to return it; your player won’t reach out to try and take the shot even when close by. To make matters worse, in doubles you’ll see your partner make these shots with seemingly inhumanly quick reactions that you will never manage to match. Even on the normal difficulty, your opponents are no pushovers. However, seemingly more so in exhibition matches, they could barely string two shots together before hitting the ball out of bounds. It was a rare pleasure to get a decent rally going. Even when playing on the same difficulty across several matches, my experience was wildly inconsistent. Overall, this combination results in a stunted, off-pace experience.
As you’d expect, you can make use of your full moveset to beat the toughest opponents. This means slicing, lobbing, pulling off drop shots and more to take the match.
Any tennis game worth its salt is built around a solid career mode and Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition offers a mixed experience at best. You can choose from several options which determine how close to the real thing your career will feel, in terms of match length and the ability to replay events. However, you can alter the difficulty of the game from the pause menu at any time.
Creating your own player to take on the career mode is realised with a fairly basic, but effective design menu. There are a fair few preset choices from facial features to build type for you to select. In a nice touch, you can also choose signature traits for your avatar from the world’s greats, such as serve styles and receive stances. Some look very similar, but there is enough variety to make it worth having a look through.
Of course, you can also unlock new clothing and equipment to buy as you progress through your career. There are many licensed options alongside generic ones, which always adds a good touch of realism to a sports game.
Once you have created your player, you will be ready to start whacking some tennis balls around. You can choose which events to participate in alongside viewing your calendar to build a schedule for your player. You can participate in exhibition matches, tournaments, charity matches and take time out to train if you wish. You will occasionally need to rest depending on how fatigued your player is.
Matches run at various lengths as indicated by how many stars are attached to the event. These vary pretty widely, however short encounters lack the tension of longer matches. All are played in front of an audible crowd, but still lack atmosphere as there is no commentary or score announcements by the umpire. There is, however, a Hawkeye-style system in place meaning each player has the usual three challenges to dispute any close calls on the line.
Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition also attempts to introduce a twist on the age old game of tennis. You can purchase card packs from the in-game store to give your player an advantage or adversely affect your opponent. You can buy more with coins earned from playing the game and I’m happy to say there are no microtransactions here.
You equip your hands pre-match and can save preset templates for tougher matches, using your most powerful cards. They will affect one of four areas of yours or your opponents game – these being endurance, power, precision and agility – and only last for a certain amount of time.
Your D-Pad buttons allow you to use cards in match; each is assigned to a different direction. Pressing one of these once allows you to view the card, and hitting them twice in quick succession sees you use it. However, the cards will only pop up for a second so you’ll need to be a fast reader when deciding which one to use.
The attributes that the cards influence link to your player profile, whose stats you can track throughout your career. It’s these elements that make Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition more of an arcade sports game, as opposed to a realistic sim. In this way, it’s akin to a toned-down version of Mario Tennis but without the moustached plumbers and fire-breathing lizard creatures.
If I’m honest, I appreciated this attempt to deepen the game’s tactics, but it didn’t really come off for me. My experience in the game wasn’t noticeably affected by any of the cards when used. The controls aren’t fine-tuned enough to notice a 6% accuracy reduction, for example. Instead, what looks like a thoroughly tactical gameplay mechanic on the surface, ends up being mostly superficial.
There are a generous amount of game options in Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition. You can play offline exhibition matches, which essentially work in the same way as a free play mode. Here you can choose the match conditions. As well as this, you can play official tournaments, such as the Roland Garros, or make your own. You can “simulate” matches in each round if you don’t want to play them, which speeds things up a bit.
Online play is available in Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition and comes packed with a fair few options. You can choose from custom leagues and quick matches as well as organised eSports events – at least when these become available. This is an exciting sign of things to come, but sadly I struggled to matchmake online after several attempts across all modes, failing to find any opponents. It’s a shame, as Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition looks to be aiming high with a meaty, progressive online mode but it can’t happen without a thriving player community.
Despite offering many ways to play, the gameplay limitations make it feel like you are playing the same match several times over, albeit in a different skin. Considering we’re talking £49.99 for the game, there isn’t enough here to make you feel as if you’re getting value for money.
Considering Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition has been optimised, the textures and environments still lack detail. This is especially apparent on the artificial surfaces – they look hideous. Apart from a few subtle changes, the courts look very similar no matter where in the world you are playing. The players are also oddly shiny, their hair looking like that of a LEGO man. That’s before mentioning some of the faces they pull, which are quite terrifying.
In summary, Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition on Xbox Series X is fun for a time, but falls short of the line. Even if you’re a fan of the sport, there’s not enough here to justify the price tag.