I have to admit I haven’t played a tennis game since Top Spin 3 and Wii Sports on the Wii. So when I started playing Matchpoint Tennis Championships I was a little wary to commit doing this review. But, this review is out in the open. Which means I’ve been able to tame this game. And I even won some online matches!
Matchpoint: Tennis Championships (I’m just gonna call it Matchpoint from now on..) has Nick Kyrgios as its cover star. If you want more proof that this is a budget tennis game then I don’t know what you would suggest, because this is it. Kyrgios is a problematic tennis player (currently playing in the finals of Wimbledon) who has been misbehaving on the tennis courts for years. Maybe it’s part of sports video games to have bad cover star choices..
Besides the cover star the roster of players is rather lacklustre. Obviously the biggest stars such as Federer, Djokovic, Nadal or Halep are missing. The game does include Medvedev, but for obvious reasons he isn’t the cover star. Besides many famous tennis players the game is missing licensing for tournaments such as the US Open, Wimbledon or Roland Garros.
It plays like a tennis game!
Matchpoint plays like a fairly competent tennis game of old. The rallies are fluid and hitting a ball perfectly feels satisfying. I haven’t come across many game breaking bugs during any of the sets. Sometimes the AI didn’t move or my player didn’t respond, but overall it’s a polished experience.
Sadly I’ve noticed the difficulty of this game to be a little sketchy. While at first I thought it would be a pain to learn how to play this game – I’m not that great playing games on a pad – after 5 or 6 matches I got the hang of it. Sadly for me, at that point it felt like I had – to some degree – mastered the game already. I wasn’t playing perfectly at all. In fairness, I was mostly hitting flat balls at the opponents baseline. But in the top-down view hitting those balls on the baseline was a little too easy. After having played some quick matches I decided to begin my career mode. The character I created in the not so intuitive character creator had all kinds of green going on, but it didn’t really match.
Please AI, don’t act as if you don’t care..
My first tournament in career mode? I won it. The second one? I won it. A bigger tournament where I had to face the highest ranked player in the world? I won it.
So, I decided to turn up the difficulty from semi-pro to professional. I still kept winning.
This was after I had played the game for 4 hours or so. I’ve played a lot of FIFA. And in FIFA after hours and hours of play I still had a hard time beating the strongest AI. In the F1 games beating the highest AI is simply impossible for me… In Matchpoint I had achieved this in half a day. To up the difficulty for myself I decided to play from a third person view, which made it more difficult to play, but also more frustrating.
When playing in third person mode you don’t see where your shots will go. The indicator isn’t visible untill very late and often it would be covered behind the tape of the net. It upped the difficulty, but also the frustration.
The first few hours of Matchpoint are fun. The game starts with a tutorial where you learn the basics. As I was learning how to play and what kind of strategy I needed to beat the AI opponents I was definitely enjoying myself. Sadly the game became quite monotonous when I had somewhat mastered the basic strategies. It wasn’t a rare occasion where I’d beat opponents with much higher ranks 6-0, 6-0. And I did that without using a dropshot, a volley or any action near the net. I was just hitting baselines for 20 minutes. The AI in Matchpoint isn’t good enough to withstand my human precision, I suppose.. If only this was true in real life!
The game isn’t a looker, but besides the faces looking a bit weird it didn’t bother me that much. The stadiums have atmosphere and the sound design is fine. I wish the developers had recorded more lines for the commentator, as it didn’t feel like he was commentating my matches. It just felt like he woke up every time there was a chance to break a game.
The animations in Matchpoint are smooth though, which added to the immersion of playing tennis. It’s one aspect the developers Torus Games got exactly right. The animations matched the action, which isn’t something many sports games can say.
A lightweight package
Most of the game could’ve had more content or polish. For example, the career mode. It’s is a very lightweight package. There are no ceremonies, no trophies. The tournaments are all the same, just with different players. Sure, there is a sense of progession as you are ranking your player to become the best in the world. But besides that there isn’t much to it. Overall a lacking experience, but enough to offer a few hours of fun.
The same can be said for the online mode. It works, most of the times. And it’s fun to play against human players. But many matches are ruined by too much lag or (FIFA fans will recognize this) players disconnecting after the first break in a set. If they solve the lag issues then there’s enough fun to be had with the online mode, though I hope they bring in some more quality of life features such as profiles.
The entire game somewhat feels like a missed opportunity. The core game mechanics are quite decent, but in terms of content there just isn’t enough to keep players entertained. The career mode is okay, but quite barebones. The online modes work, but don’t offer much to keep players engaged. large licensing deals isn’t something we should expect (or demand) for an indie title such as Matchpoint – Tennis Championships, but it would’ve been a nice addition. The same can be said for things like doubles or nation tournaments.
Overall the game is a very lightweight package which shows that Matchpoint Tennis Championships isn’t a high budget tennis game. The animations and atmosphere in the tennis stadiums are well done. Hitting a shot feels satisfying. But, overall the game is too easy and one dimensional. There is a great tennis game in there somewhere, but the developers haven’t been able to capitalize on the opportunity. If you are craving to play a tennis game, try this one! If you’re fine playing something else, then there’s plenty of other sports games to try.
|Reviewed on||Windows PC|
|Available on||Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC (& Xbox Game Pass)|
|Release Date||July 8th 2022|