Tennis World Tour 2 Complete Edition Review – PlayStation 5

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Tennis World Tour 2 is classic proof that superior power can’t make a bad game better.  In other words, “you can’t polish a turd” even with the power of the PS5.  I had low expectations going into this review after our coverage of the PS4 version back in October, so it was unimaginable that this new so-called “next-gen” version of that game could possibly be any worse…but it was.  First off, let me say I won’t be doing a traditional review for the game for two reasons; first, we already have a great review of how and why this game fails as a PS4 game and second, this PS5 upgrade was virtually unplayable.  I’ll simply be covering what’s new for the PS5 and why none of it matters.

So here is what we were told to expect from this enhanced PS5 version; faster load times, 4K, 60fps support, raytracing, and enhanced particle effects.  That’s right…raytracing and particle effects in a tennis game.  Since the original game has had months to simmer this new “Complete Edition” also adds new players; Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, Donna Vekic, Marin Cilic, Justine Henin and Diego Schwartzman, four new stadiums, new accessories and outfits, and the much-anticipated addition of Signature moves so you can swing, serve, and emote just like your favorite pro player.  The career mode has also been bolstered with singles and doubles official tournaments.

On paper this all sounds great, and I won’t deny Tennis World Tour 2 has a lot of content hiding behind an unwieldy interface, problematic gameplay, and graphics from two generations past, but none of that content is worth the frustration of trying to enjoy it.  The game kicks off with a bland tutorial that walks you through the menus starting with cards and decks.  Whoa boy…I stopped playing Madden and FIFA when cards invaded those games.  EA even tried that card system crap with their Need for Speed and Star Wars games and we know how that worked out.  Here, we have enhancement cards that you use to build a deck, and you can create multiple decks for certain scenarios.  The game graciously gives you a lot of starter cards, but you’ll need to purchase more cards using your earnings from within the game assuming you want to go down this dangerous path.  Thankfully, a simple tap of the triangle button disables the card system for an entire season in career mode leaving you with pure tennis.

Next, I decided to go take some tennis lessons to get comfortable with the controls.  These are divided into various disciplines and would seem like a great place to get started only the graphics are so jacked up even the first challenge of the first lesson was unplayable.  The HDR levels are crap, so when they light up the court to show you where to target your return shot you can no longer see the ball until after it crosses the net, cutting your reaction time in half..  Conversely, the dark levels are so bad the black guy offering up these lessons is so crushed you can see no facial features – he is a complete silhouette.  Even worse is that you cannot adjust the brightness while in the game – that slider is removed unless you exit to the main menu and go to options from there, so you have no way of making real-time adjustments.  I tried numerous settings above and below the default 200 setting and nothing seemed to change other than the graphics getting more washed out.

Forced to skip the tutorial I jumped into a casual game and instantly won 45-0, so I then started a career mode.  The character creator offers poor choices and uninspired options. Everything looked washed out and there were no details in skin or fabric aside from some superficial stitching.  This looked like a tennis game from the PS3 era.  The one positive note I will make is the outstanding animations, especially the new signature moves.  It looks like all the time, effort, and money went into mo-capping these moves.  I took my new character into the seasonal calendar and started doing various events that will have you globetrotting to famous stadiums and playing famous players in all the famous events along with exhibition matches, or maybe you can take some time off to rest or train.

Actual gameplay controls were disappointing, and I always felt I was struggling to move and aim with the same stick at the same time.  The player gets locked into these various animations and it’s hard to switch out of them like trying to quickly switch directions.  The game seems overly intent on showcasing those signature modes rather than providing a fluid gameplay experience.  I was also disappointed that there was no support for the new haptic feedback for the DualSense controller. Tennis World Tour 2 has some local multiplayer modes for two and even four-player doubles as well as online modes (PS Plus required), although at the time of my review the lobbies were empty.

Sadly, there is no way I can possibly recommend Tennis World Tour 2 at any price.  If anything, this PS5 upgrade is actually worse (technically) than the PS4 version despite offering more content.  The graphics are ugly to the point of being unplayable in places.  Load times were fast but by how much I can’t say, as I didn’t play the PS4 version.  I went into this with the lowest of expectations and still came away shockingly disappointed and still looking for signs of raytracing and particles.  Hopefully 2K decides to bring back the Top Spin franchise.  It’s been about ten years since their last game in that series and the last time I had genuine fun with a tennis video game.