Matchpoint: Tennis Championships PS5 PlayStation 5 1

When you really stop and think about it, tennis and video games will forever be tied. Pong, one of the earliest arcade success stories, may be simplistic – but it’s effectively tennis in everything but name. Ever since this author got Anna Kournikova’s Smash Court Tennis on the PS1 (remember her?!), we’ve been huge fans of the genre, but the number of truly great adaptations on the PS5 and PS4 has been vanishingly small. In fact, the PS3’s Top Spin 4 remains the best tennis simulation you can buy on console today.

What of newcomer Matchpoint: Tennis Championships, then? Well, we happened to spot a demo for the PC version is available on Steam, ahead of its 7th July release date. So, we gave it a go just to see what publisher Kalypso Media is serving up, and it seems promising to say the least. Gameplay perhaps best resembles something like Virtua Tennis, where you’re charging up your shots rather than timing them, but it feels pretty good.

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The challenge for teams making tennis titles is the sheer number of animations required to do it properly. Games need to account for a huge number of possibilities, relating to the speed, bounce, and angle of the ball, and then match animations so that it all flows responsively. In games like Tennis World Tour 2, there’s just not enough budget to do the levels of motion capture required, so warping occurs where players snap into position purely because there aren’t enough animations in the game’s library to account for enough unique scenarios.

Matchpoint: Tennis Championships PS5 PlayStation 5 2

Matchpoint: Tennis Championships, from the 45 minutes or so we played, appears to have less of that. Players move quite naturally, and while the shot system does generally require you to place your feet quite early, it feels good. As you’re charging up a return, a shadow on the other side of the court allows you to aim your shot. It’s unclear how high the skill ceiling will be because, from what we can tell, the timing system that makes Top Spin 4 so superb isn’t present, but this currently feels like a slower more realistic Virtua Tennis.

Rallies are quite short, perhaps owing to our poor play, but it feels like you can get dominated if you don’t take control early – which is authentic to the modern game, we suppose. It’ll be interesting to see, once we’ve spent more time with the title, whether more defensive gameplay is possible – so far, we’ve found ourselves either dominating from the baseline or dropping points. We’re optimistic there’ll be just enough depth to give this some legs.

Graphically it doesn’t look great – particularly on our creaking PC, anyway – but there’s some promise here. Licensed players like Kei Nishikori and Garbine Muguruza are present, but we imagine a lot of the longevity will come from creating your own player and taking them to the top of the world rankings. Ultimately, we’re optimistic: the gameplay does feel better than any of the more recent attempts we’ve tried, but we need to see how it stacks up after a dozen hours play, because zero tennis titles have stood the test of time quite like Top Spin 4.

Matchpoint: Tennis Championships PS5 PlayStation 5 3

Just to reiterate, this Matchpoint: Tennis Championships hands on is based on the PC build, and not PS5 or PS4. With that in mind, are you interested in what Kalypso Media is serving up here? Hit a forehand down the line in the comments section below.

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