Matchpoint Tennis Championship feels like a fresh take on the Tennis simulation, with a unique control scheme and fierce 1 on 1 play.
Tennis is a fiercely competitive sport. Immense concentration is required to follow the ball at top speeds and judge how to hit it back to your opponent. This combination of skill and speed creates a unique dynamic of split-second decision-making that lends itself well to the realm of video games, another realm that requires concentration and precise reactions. Though the Tennis simulator is nothing new to gaming, Matchpoint Tennis Championship puts a great new spin on controlling the game.
A key element of Matchpoint Tennis Championship is their unique approach to controlling your athlete. Unlike in other Tennis games, where the traditional game flow boils down to high-speed rock-paper-scissors, Matchpoint Tennis Championship focuses more on control and positioning. It achieves this by pacing the game differently by shifting your focus to placing the ball in progressively worse situations for your opponent by using different types of shots that affect where the ball will land. Opponent playing too far from the net? Use a drop-shot to make them press forward as to not get a double-bounce. If they’re doing the opposite and push the net aggressively, you can use another type of shot to lob it over them so as to throw off their pressure.
This is combined with a shot strength system that allows for further precision. Whenever you take a swing, you can hold the button down to enhance the power and control behind it. This forces your eyes to always be on the ball since you always want to be in the right place before it’s hit back to you in order to return it as hard as you need to. This fundamental focus on positioning makes the game feel cerebral and tense, as games that see both players accurately reading one another feel like incredibly intense experiences.
While it can be tough to get this from the AI, playing against others is almost always a blast and is easy to do for hours. Online play is cross-platform, meaning the pool of players always feels accessible. Though there isn’t a ton of online modes, ranked and casual play are solid and flow well and almost all connection strengths.
Though the AI may be lackluster, the career mode is not. There’s a ton to love as you create your own player and start your journey to be the ultimate Tennis champion. Tournaments, exhibitions and grudge matches on the calendar go hand-in-hand with gear and stat system that are unique to career mode. Winning nets you fabulous prizes, such as brande-name jerseys, shoes and rackets by well-known names such as Uniqlo that allow you to take on tougher and tougher opponents by boosting your stats. You also are able to win access to better coaches to train specific stats to perfection.
There’s also a unique rival system that allows your character to pick up on specific strengths and weaknesses of your opponents. As you play and use different types of shots against them, you will discover specific traits attributed to your rivals that help you understand how to play against them. They may always want to push the net, or they might be a master of top spin shots, or both. All of these elements combine to create an immersive career experience that’s both fun and engaging.
Though Matchpoint Tennis Championships has a great feel and smooth animations, it doesn’t always look nor feel the best. While players are emotive while playing with some intense verbal cues, character models can look stiff at times, especially during intermissions when you’re not actively playing the game. When combined with a blurry crowd and samey courts that don’t uplfit the visuals or locales they’re supposed to be set in, it leaves the presentation feeling underwhelming. The lack of doubles also feels a bit odd.
There are also times where the game feels erratic. One must be precise with their inputs as the game has a hard time dealing with multiple at once, as it tries to compensate for movement during hits, which feels like it trumps regular control stick/keyboard movement. This can lead to your character freezing up with a shot charging but not going for the ball at all, them teleporting to the ball without their charge, or going for it but missing it. While the last one has a specific animation that makes it feel like at least you tried, other unpredictable movement quirks can make some moments feel cheap or unearned. While these moments are few and far between, it can be frustrating when you see them happen.
Though these occasional low points will certainly be felt, when Matchpoint Tennis Championships works it’s an absolute blast. Matches are intense and feel great to control, rewarding positioning and good decision-making. The career mode is fantastic and immersive as you carve your way through the ranks of the Tennis championships by winning tournaments and exhibitions. Elements such as the rival system that allows you to find the holes in your opponents’ game feels unqiue and immersive, giving your career mode a unique and personal feeling. This makes Matchpoint Tennis Championships a game Tennis enthusiasts shouldn’t miss and one that everyone else should try.
-Fun and immersive career mode
-Excellent controls and game flow
-Cross-platform online multiplayer
-Controls occasionally erratic
-No doubles play
4 out of 5
Review code provided by PR. Matchpoint Tennis Championships is out now!