Matchpoint – Tennis Championships takes a clean swing in the world of sports games – Hands-on impressions
In terms of tennis-based video games, there hasn’t been a title that has risen to the ranks of Madden, NBA 2K, or FIFA. There have been several tennis games to pop up in recent years, like the AO Tennis and Tennis World Tour franchises, but none have been able to step in and become the undisputed leader of the genre. A new contender Matchpoint – Tennis Championships jumped into the forefront recently. This new tennis game from Torus Games and Kalypso Media looks to break through with a unique gameplay engine, a career mode, and authentic tennis players that fans would see in real-world, competitive tennis. We’ve spent some time with it and can help you decide if the team has succeeded or not.
Matchpoint – Tennis Championships comes with a good amount of hype, highlighted by its inclusion of over a dozen professional athletes, including Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, and Madison Keys. Additionally, the gameplay system includes a wide variety of different serve and shot options, as well as several different and unique movement-based animations. In a press event earlier this year, the Kalypso team told Gamepur that hundreds of different animations were added into Matchpoint, as part of its development.
However, don’t expect to see the ATP or WTA branding in the game. Neither league is a part of Matchpoint – Tennis Championships, although Kalypso did state in the previously mentioned press event that there were some discussions between the game and the major tennis tours about a potential branding agreement. That could come in the future, but nothing concrete is known yet.
Gameplay that’s a simple, clean shot
As far as the gameplay is concerned, Kalypso Media and Torus Games have put together a rather decent product. Player movement is solid and fluid, and there doesn’t appear to be glitchy running animations. Additionally, tennis players who need to run from one side of the court to the other to track down the ball won’t just warp to it. Running does require being prepared and you’ll need to be set in a good position to cover the space, so it’s important not to get too lazy on that front.
The second key aspect to the gameplay is the shooting system, and this is where things can look a bit peculiar. Matchpoint – Tennis Championships utilizes a shooting system that involves users pressing and holding one of the four buttons, which then fills up a meter to determine power. That’s not the confusing part, but it’s easy to get hung up because just the slightest bit of power on regular, flat shots can relatively easily result in an out and a loss of a point. Balancing that issue, in my opinion, should be a priority, especially since tennis really is a game that needs the right balance between power and accuracy. Not being able to even apply just a little bit of power doesn’t feel right.
Aside from that, the shooting system is simple to understand, with nothing in the way of complex combos that need to be learned aside from one or two-button ones. Matchpoint – Tennis Championships also features an aiming function that uses the left stick. While this did take a few minutes to get used to, it never felt overly complicated.
Not much flash, just tennis
Matchpoint – Tennis Championships offers a number of different game modes, but nothing too wild to choose from. Users can enter a quick match against the CPU or head online to go head-to-head with other players. Kalypso Media’s tennis game also includes training sessions and a tutorial feature, as well as a career mode. Here, players can create their own custom avatar, and try to move up the world rankings and become a tennis superstar.
Matchpoint – Tennis Championships’ career mode is not flashy. All that really can be done is go through training sessions to upgrade your player before matches and then play those events. Career mode is, by and large, a “meat and potatoes” feature. Nothing too extravagant, but more of a focus on the actual gameplay and the sport, than trying to wow with flashy, off-the-court tasks.
Kalypso Media keeps it short and simple with Matchpoint – Tennis Championships, and that’s probably not a bad thing given that this is their maiden voyage with this franchise. The focus of this game really is on the gameplay itself, rather than trying to grab attention with an official license with the ATP and WTA or a large pool of real tennis players. Matchpoint – Tennis Championships’ gameplay isn’t too difficult, but the controls are rather simple to grasp. Instead, it’s more a game of trying to gauge where the shot will fall and react, which really is what tennis is all about.
While Matchpoint doesn’t have amazing graphics, it’s serviceable, and the gameplay is more than passable. The engine is actually quite pleasant and fun, once you get the hang of the nuances of the game. It will be interesting to see where Kalypso goes with Matchpoint, since this does feel more like a good, firm first step into the world of tennis games. There is a bit of a void in this genre, and Kalypso seems to be well-positioned to fill it.