There aren’t a ton of options out there for those who are looking for their tennis video game fix. It’s been a long time since we’ve had the fun of titles like Virtua Tennis or Top Spin and many of us have been looking for something to help fill that whole they left behind. A new challenger has stepped onto the court with that being Matchpoint: Tennis Championships from publisher Kalypso Media and developer Torus Games. Is this the tennis game you’ve been waiting for or is this just another challenger that can’t quite live up to past Tennis greats?
The core that makes up most of Matchpoint is the Career Mode which is pretty in-depth. In this mode you can create your own Tennis player and help them progress through various tournaments and climb the rankings. The character creator is solid but far from in-depth so don’t expect to go too crazy with it. Before you get into the meat of the Career Mode, I recommend you go through the short tutorial to get a handle on the controls. The game gives you full control over your player by letting you move with the left analog stick while your face buttons let you perform different types of shots like a spin shot, a lob shot, or a slice. Different shots are better for different situations depending on where the opposing tennis player is positioned and you can increase the power on each shot too before performing it. I feel like when compared to some other recent Tennis games, Matchpoint does a better job of feeling good to play. I always felt like I had to ability to perform the shot I wanted and to be in a good position to make it. Some other titles you’ll have your character animated awkwardly, shift around the court weirdly, or just not be given the freedom of movement that you need but none of that is the case with this game. It isn’t perfect but I believe that this is the team’s first try at a Tennis game after previously working on more kid friendly titles so I’m eager to see what they can do If they make future iterations.
Where the game falters a bit is in the on-field presentation and in some of the ways the Career mode is handled. When it comes to presentation there is a severe lack of feeling like you are actually watching a match. The crowd doesn’t really get into anything that is going on, the players don’t feature any exciting animations when they perform a really good shot, and the commentary is very poor in general. When it comes to the visuals themselves, they are OK at best considering I was playing the PlayStation 5 version. The animation work is pretty good as I mentioned earlier but the character models are far from looking like a PlayStation 5 game. You really notice this when you see any of the 16 real-life Tennis players in a match whether that be Amanda Anisimova or Nick Kyrgios.
The Career Mode works by having you take part in dozens of events to earn points that will raise your rank in the world. You are presented these events in a calendar system that lets you choose what you want to do. You can take part in an event match or spend time training your character instead to raise their stats. Raising your stats can involve buying better gear of which there is real world names present, hiring better coaches, and taking part in training sessions. It all feels like it takes a bit too long to make meaningful progress though which left me feeling a little burnt out. I did find that even without having my stats way up I could still win matches although this may vary depending on what difficulty you play on. Another thing that can give you an edge in a match is learning the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent. Certain players are better or worse when trailing in a match or they may excel at a certain kind of shot or have trouble dealing with others. Learning these things can help you win matches even if your stats aren’t the best.
Outside of the Career Mode there isn’t a whole lot more to the game sadly. You can jump into a Quick match using some of the real-life players, play a couple mini-games, or play an online match. I tried a few online and it seemed to perform well enough. Finding a match may be tough at times but thankfully this game does support Cross-Play and with it being on Xbox Game Pass that should hopefully keep the player base alive a bit longer than usual.
Matchpoint: Tennis Championships isn’t the best Tennis game I’ve ever played but it manages to be more fun than some others I’ve played in recent years. The act of actually playing it is what I liked the most about it as moving and performing shots generally felt really good. It doesn’t have much to offer outside of the Career Mode though and the overall presentation needs to be improved if this team makes another one. If you’re looking for a good playing Tennis game then I think you’ll like what this one has to offer.
*Matchpoint: Tennis Championships is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, and PC. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.