I’ve always been fond of tennis video games. My brothers and I used to spend hours playing Super Tennis on SNES, which at the time was the peak of sports games. When Mario Tennis arrived though, I moved away from tennis sims. Silly arcade sports games always seemed easier to sit down and play. I never got the same thrill from trying to learn a sim tennis game so I didn’t really bother. Until now that is.
AO Tennis 2 is not only a great tennis game, it’s a great game period. When I play sports sim games, I often get frustrated by my limited skills early on and give up before I can learn the mechanics.
NBA 2K is a series I always bounce off of because of it’s high degree of difficulty. I’m willing to bet that AO Tennis 2 will feel similar to some players but for me, it’s the right kind of difficult.
Just difficult enough without putting me off.
AO Tennis 2 Review
There are a lot of options when you first boot up AO Tennis 2 but I’d recommend jumping into the training mode. This is where I headed first and I found it’s a great way to get accustomed to the gameplay.
Like most tennis games, you use the face buttons of your controller for different shot types; flat, spin, slice and lob. However, you can’t just press the button any old time. Instead, you need to hold it down and watch as an icon near your character changes between red, orange and green.
Just like the traffic lights, green is good and red is bad. Orange is mediocre but I’m not sure that works with the traffic light analogy, so we’ll just move on.
Basically, you’re trying to achieve the right power for your shot type. It won’t be the same every time as you’ll be accounting for your position on the court, type of shot, where you’re aiming and the like. Getting the icon bright green means you’ll be hitting your best possible shot, with the least chance of going out of bounds.
While theoretically red would make for the worst shot, I found I was hitting out of bounds far more often when I was getting orange shots.
Getting the hang of things takes time and even after spending dozens of hours playing, I am still terrible and still struggling to win a set. But that’s ok, AO Tennis 2 has that magic quality that makes you want to keep playing, to get better and to (eventually) win.
It’s your career man
From the main menu, you have plenty of options for how to play AO Tennis 2. However, it’s worth mentioning how nice the menu and UI in this game are. It’s very sleek and beautifully designed and makes navigating a breeze.
Props to Big Ant for the design work.
Anyway, from the main menu you can select a number of modes; Australian Open, Career, Quick Play, Scenarios, Online, Competition and Academy. Aus Open sees you trying to win the Aus Open with a chosen character. Quick Play is as described, Online is multiplayer, Scenarios has you trying to win matches under certain conditions and Competition has you trying to win by playing through rounds.
Career mode is the meat of AO Tennis 2 though.
Here you create your own character and take them through a tennis journey from the bottom to the top. It functions like career modes in other major sports games. You gradually earn points and cash to level up your player, improve your skills and be able to compete at a higher level. Big Ant has also included a bit of a story element too where you’ll participate in press conferences and answer questions.
It’s very ‘lite’ but it’s a nice addition.
In AO Tennis 2 you’re able to fully plan out your season ahead which allows you to opt to rest or train instead of competing. An injury system is at play in AO Tennis 2and if you push your player too hard you’ll become injured and will have less stamina to play with.
It’s nice to see a sports game integrate the idea of travel, jetlag and fatigue into the gameplay. Though I never really found it to be much of an issue.
What was and still is an issue for me is the level at which the AI play. I struggle to win points and to consistently play well. It’s still me learning how to play the game but when the AI rarely makes mistakes and pushes you to your limits, it’s hard to actually be able to learn.
And this is on the second-lowest difficulty.
I’m still enjoying the challenge and the game but it would be nice if there was a difficulty option somewhere between the (almost) auto-win nature of the easiest and the very tough second easiest. Given that there are a handful of higher difficulties too, I dread to think how hard they’d be.
Overall, AO Tennis 2 is the best non-arcade tennis game I’ve played in a long time. It is difficult, but it strikes a balance between being too hard and being challenging enough to spur you on.
The visuals aren’t incredible but they quite good and everything has a nice level of polish, sleekness and quality to it. If you’re looking for a tennis game, then look no further.
AO Tennis 2 is the best you’ll find.
AO Tennis 2 was reviewed using a digital copy provided by Big Ant.
Game Title: AO Tennis 2