AO International Tennis serves into the forecourt, but how does Big Ant handle one of the most physically demanding sports you can play? With Nadal on the cover, it’s sure to be a sure fire hit…right?
Lets find out!
So AO International Tennis brings us the wonder that is the Australian Open, and from the get go you are greeted with the typical Big Ant style presentation. You didn’t come to read this to find out about the presentation though did you? So lets check out the gameplay.
When you start up the game you are given the options to choose a nice and straight forward tutorial, and it is definitely a great idea when starting AO International Tennis for the first time. There are all the types of shots you would imagine with a tennis game, the flat, topspin, backspin are all in the game, as well as the lob and dropshots. Each of these are all easily accessibly either through a single button press, or a combination of a couple of buttons.
Your shots are carried out by moving around a small dot on the opposite side of the court as well as your timing. This is where the true class of the game shows.
Forget about all the game modes for a minute, I just want to take a bit of a moment to give my opinions on something. When you are creating a sports game that is generally focused on such small margins, for me, the gameplay is paramount. How well the sport is recreated is possibly the most important part of any sports game. So for me AO International Tennis is all about how the on court action takes place.
Now, back to the review. When you are lining up a shot you get a little bar that comes up around your character, this goes through red-orange-green-orange-red, and the best timing is obviously green. Go to orange or red and the ball will miss that little marker by a random distance. There is a slice of luck with this, but with good timing you can hit those lines with ease.
The confusion starts when you are actually just attempting to move around the court. With the ball in action it becomes a bit confusing when you are controlling your character and when you should start to wind up the shots. The marker continues to follow you around the court regardless if you have a button pressed to take a shot. Then you have the decision of when to start pressing your shot button, the longer you are able to press it and hold the button before you release the demon, the harder the shot and the greater the opportunity of getting a winning shot.
Its all a bit of a game of cat and mouse, but its enjoyable, once you get used to the whole system the rallies can be some great action. Being able to tactically beat an opponent by pushing them to the edge of the court with a well placed topspin shot and then hitting a naughty drop shot that your opponent doesn’t stand a chance of getting it where the game is at! Alternatively if you can time a return shot well enough and hit that winner straight from a server can be awesome.
Moving onto the game modes in AO International Tennis, you have the standard career mode, tournaments and then the Australian Open. Each of which turn into a win a game, move to the next round and onto the next tournament kind of thing. With the only addition is to the career mode where you take a no named tennis player all the way to the top, by winning rounds and getting money to spend on experience points to level up your player to become the best in the rankings.
Standard stuff really for a tennis game, it just unfortunately misses the depth that other tennis games of the past have had in their career modes.
Who can you play as you may ask? Well there are 20 licensed tennis players including Rafael Nadal, Kevin Anderson, John Isner, Johanna Konta, Angelique Kerber and more. Although with the option to scan your own face into the game, you can put yourself right there on the court.
It isn’t without its issues, and although minor they are slightly annoying. When selecting your outfit for the match, even when you pick your second outfit, it still resets back to the main kit option. Like I said, it is minor but very annoying, especially when you have your second kit set to some awesome striped number!
The graphics on AO International Tennis are very nice. Now they are not amazing, but with the 3D scanned models of the players, you get some incredibly realistic actions on court. The facial models are very accurate, but this is standard for Big Ant Studios.
Annoyingly there doesn’t seem to be a massive amount of animation in the crowd, and those ball boys and girls don’t even flinch when the ball hits the net.
AO International Tennis has just the right amount of audio for a tennis game, the squeak of your shoes on the hard court, and the ball bouncing off the racket is all there perfectly. It does get a little quiet on court though, especially with no commentary or music playing in the background.
Now this is the tricky one. If you get into the game it can be a great additional to your sports game library. However, I do feel that some people just wont get to grips with the game and it will end up being left towards the end of your game library. There is a decent amount of depth with the modes available, however a bit more depth in the career mode, than just win money and spend money on levelling up your character would have been ideal.
Even though AO International Tennis doesn’t quite hit the winner, it does battle well on those long rallies.
AO International Tennis receives a Thumb Culture Silver Award.