Since the beginning of the videogame era, I have always been a fan of tennis games. I never was really good at tennis in real life nor did I play it a lot, but for some reason I was still attracted to the videogames. Over the years there have been many iterations of tennis from Pong to Top Spin and now we have the AO Tennis franchise to add to the list. The first AO Tennis was pretty decent but definitely needed a bit of polish. So here we are with iteration number 2.

AO Tennis is a bit different from in the regard that its solely focused on the Australian Open rather than the entire professional tennis circuit. There are various modes to play through and online play for those that enjoy taking their game to the highest level. You’ll even be able to create scenarios that allow you to set up win conditions such as getting a certain number of aces, don’t lose points or even stay a certain number of sets ahead. You can also create your own venue with the venue creator. There are definitely a lot of customization options in the game especially when creating your own player.

Visually, I think the game looks pretty good. Some of the character models seem a little off or robotic like when you look at them, but the animations are good and the player movement is smooth. I really like the variety in courts and venues. You’ll travel the world in your career mode playing across all sorts of different court surfaces and colors. All of which look pretty darn good.
The sound package is an area where I am a little skeptical. While as a whole, the game delivers a pretty good sound package there are certain things that caught my attention. For instance, when Rafael Nadal would grunt it almost sounds like a female player. This really threw me for a loop. The crowd sounds are pretty good and they’ll react to different types of shots and big moments in a match. I did like how the crowd sounds varied depending on the venue.

One thing I do want to mention is the difficulty settings in this game. You’ll have multiple levels to choose from ranging from rookie to expert. There is a steep change in difficulty not only from the AI skill level, but the game itself. Rookie mode is the easiest mode to play where you can’t really make any mistakes like hitting the ball out of bounds, etc. When you bump the game up to Amateur level the game now changes drastically forcing you to aim your shots better and hit the ball with better timing. You’ll see how well you are timing your shots by the color of the dot that shows up on the hitting meter. Red obviously is not very good while bright green is the best. A low rated player is tough to use even at this level due to their skills now being very high. So keeping shots in between the lines can prove to be difficult. I started my player at rookie and once I was able to get a better skill rating I then bumped myself up to amateur for more competition. Trust me, its not fun just winning over and over at the rookie level.

Lets go through the gameplay modes you can expect. You’ll get the standard Play Now feature that allows you to play any singles or doubles match of your choosing. Choose your players, venue and match settings to your own liking. This mode can be played single player ro local multiplayer. You also have the Australian Open mode that allows you to take part in the Open with any player you like including your own created character. The tournament will be generated randomly and it’s your goal to win the Open, of course.

The career mode allows you to take your created player through an entire tennis career climbing the ranks and participating in matches across the world. You’ll earn money which can be used to upgrade your player statistics. These statistics have caps which can be raised by completing training rather than playing in a tournament. You’ll want to balance your tournament play, rest weeks and training to get the most out of your character. Pick tournaments that will help increase your world rank so that you can eventually get invited to some of the bigger tourneys.

When it comes to issues with the game I did not run across many. A few times here and there it did seem as though the buttons would be unresponsive especially when a lob shot landed right in front of me. My player would just stand there like a dummy rather than take a swing at returning it. Overall though, the controls were pretty solid. It takes a lot of practice to master this game and while some may not like that I thought the range in difficulty levels was perfect and really made you strive to get better.

Overall, I really enjoy AO Tennis 2. It’s a great tennis game and one that will take you a while to master. There are difficulty levels here for every type of player which makes this game accessible for everyone. I like the fact that you can change the difficulty in your career settings without starting a whole new career. That helped me slowly bump up the difficulty as my player skills increased. The gameplay is solid and the AI is pretty darn good. You’ll definitely get some intense rallies when facing worthy opponents. So yes, this is definitely a game that you can play as an arcade tennis game or go all out simulation. If you are a tennis fan then this should be in your sports library for sure.

REVIEW SCORE: 88 / 100

***A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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