Tuesday, May 08, 2018

"AO International Tennis" Review

With "Top Spin" and "Virtua Tennis" having long since foot-faulted, there's a doubles court-sized opening for an indie interloper to come in, land a smash and seize straight-sets control of the tennis si genre.

BigAnt Studios swings and misses with "AO International Tennis," starting with a head-scratching lack of ambition. Fashioning itself as a realistic tennis sim, the licenses round up a scattershot selection of pros, featuring Rafael Nadal and a short list of "who's that?" rather than "who's who."

Likewise, the tournament selection is bizarrely thin, with the Australian Open being the lone Grand Slam event to show up. The lack of licenses, no doubt due to a lack of funding, is an alarming but surmountable setback. The squad behind Konami's equally hampered "PES" franchise routinely shows up its better-pedigreed rival in "FIFA."

But the poor licensing turnout is a harbinger of the other flaws. There is little of Rafa's serve-and-volley specialty to be found, with any attempt at charging the net resulting in an embarrassing loss of a point. The best way to hang in is to go full Sampras, sit on the baseline and wait for the opponent to make a mistake. This unexciting brand of tennis flows into every other aspect of the game, from the menus to the game modes and customization.

A vanilla tennis sim  that disappoints more than inspires, "AO International Tennis" lacks the punch to stand up to the upcoming "Mario Tennis Aces," which isn't even a true competitor. Instead of providing hope for the resurrection of the tennis sim, this lackadaisical game just acts as evidence as to why people stopped caring about video game tennis alogether.
Publisher provided review code.

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