AO Tennis 2 PlayStation 4 Review

With all its woes, AO Tennis 2 is still a vibrant and fun game to play.

By RON, Posted 07 Mar 2020

The past few years have been successful for sports simulators tackling football, basketball and hockey   but nothing of note released that was focusing on tennis. This year, however, Big Ant Studios launched AO Tennis 2, aiming to capture the feeling of the Australian Open and cater to an underserved portion of sports fans. AO Tennis 2 instantly feels like a more fluid game with its implementation of shot varieties compared to the previous release, however, not without having areas – like shot placement control – that need further improvement. If you’re a fan of Virtua Tennis, though, and been waiting for a taste of it on PlayStation 4, then AO Tennis 2 is the closest thing you can find.

The first entry in the AO Tennis series may have stumbled, but this second attempt at landing in the service box is much more efficient and accurate. AO Tennis 2 continues to build on the initial foundation set by its predecessor, coming with such features as a career mode, an in-depth editing tool that allows customization of players physics and appearance but also enhanced control sensitivity and gameplay fluidity. Many of these changes have taken time to develop; frequent updates for the original AO Tennis, have turned the confused product at launch into a stronger game some 12 months later. The way AO Tennis 2 has taken to fix the first title’s shortcomings is praiseworthy.



 

Be that as it may, AO Tennis 2’s gameplay is fine, but not flawless. It is enjoyable and the best option for this generation for fans of realistic tennis simulations. At the same time hitting the ball isn’t always easy and, after playing a few sets, it can really make your thumbs feel pain. Mechanically speaking, AO Tennis 2 is simple and deliberate, with a good amount of variety in how you control players during a match. You can decide the amount of power for each shot, which is displayed in a bar over the player’s head. You can also control the direction of the ball and the movements of the player. Traveling across the pitch feels realistic, whereas anticipating where the opposition will send the ball can prove tricky. No aiding mark or dot appears on your part of the court when the opposition hits the ball back. Not to say that it’s a must-have feature, but including it as an option could prove helpful to players who are new to tennis simulators. Just before players take any shot, the bar above their head becomes visible and, depending on the position of the player, you may decide how much force to use for the type of shot you’re taking so that it lands in the opponent’s service box. For instance, if you’re making a top-spin or drop shot you’d surely want to use as much power as possible, whereas for a slice you might want to use less power to make the opposition confused. However, all these depend on the momentum of the match and positioning of the opposition player. Keep using full power for each shot, and your player is likely to lose stamina faster, impacting the later sets of a match.

As mentioned earlier, controlling the placement of the ball after hitting is not as smooth a feature as it could be in AO Tennis 2. Due to the pace of the game, it feels that you have far too little time to execute a perfectly controlled shot. At times it feels you’re simply reacting to opposition shots without giving much thought to how you play or following any particular strategy. Not to mention that when playing using the Dynamic Player camera you’re likely to misplace your shots most of the time. This happens because the view of the opposition’s side of the court is too parallel to the net, and the white dot that lets you decide the position of the ball after hitting is barely noticeable. However, if you’re playing using a different camera angle – especially a view from above – it’s easier to control where the ball will land. It’s a pity that playing using such a view detracts from AO Tennis 2’s realism.

What feels particularly lacking, is the players ability to change body position before taking a shot. This is massively important when playing tennis because, the player’s body position determines whether they are taking a forehand or backhand shot. In AO Tennis 2, players can only change their body position after they make the shot and for a split second after the ball has been hit back. So, consider your player is right-handed and facing/moving toward the right while wanting to make a backhand reply to opposition shot – they simply can’t. Not with the amount of time given in the game for a reply shot, anyway. In case you somehow can make it, there won’t be much in the way of precision. This comes to attention when you know how tennis in real life. Other than this, the ambiance – especially the ball boys and audience – also feel a bit unrealistic because they hardly move.


AO Tennis 2, PlayStation 4, Review
 

There’s plenty to be found in the Career mode in AO Tennis 2 and you’re probably going to spend most of your time with this feature. You can either start with a newly created player or select one of multiple existing licensed players from the real world. Similar to PES, you can also import unlicensed players made by the AO Tennis community. In this mode there are tons of activities which include tournaments that affect your ranking and income, training drills that help improve your player’s skills and attributes. AO Tennis 2 offers a wide range of customization starting from creating players, stadiums and tournaments. You don’t have many constraints to how creative you want to get when developing your career, designing your character, or building a stadium to play in. AO Tennis 2 gives you a character creator like no other where you can make logos and color schemes and attach them to anything from equipment bags to the strings of your racket. Besides the career mode, you can also hop into separate single or double matches against the AI or online against human opposition.

The relative lack of licenses also hurts AO Tennis 2. The Australian Open is the only licensed tournament, which is, ultimately, to be expected, as the entire experience is built around it.That being said, players like Serena Williams, Roger Federer or Andy Murray can only be found through community-made mods while they lack likeliness in terms of their facial appearances. There are arenas in New York, Paris and London where tournaments can be played but not any major tournaments. You can import arenas such the Wimbledon stadium through community-made mods but it feels like an extra hassle that reminds me of Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer.  All these user-created players and stadiums do bring the diversity missing in the original game but, unlike PES, AO Tennis 2 also lacks some overall polish and requires some visual improvements when it comes to the player’s faces, dresses and spectators.



 

AO Tennis 2 is a decent tennis simulation game that has made clear progress from its predecessor. A lack of licensed players might put some potential fans off but its interactive career mode does balance things out. With all its woes, though, it’s still a vibrant and fun game to play. If you’re one of those players who have been craving for a tennis simulation on PlayStation 4, AO Tennis 2 is worth giving a go.


Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
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General Information

AO Tennis 2

70/100

Platform(s): PS4
Publisher(s): Nacon
Developer(s): Big Ant Studios
Genres: Tennis
Themes: Sports
Release Date: 2020-01-09

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