When this was announced the title intrigued us. Are the players all
in the nuddy?
Then the realisation hit that it wasn’t “Adults
Only”, but rather “Australian Open”. Our quest for a game that
combines Blankety Blanks with big fuzzy balls continues...
AO Tennis serves up (we had to get one shit tennis
reference in) an Australian Open mode, a championship mode and
exhibition matches. Save for the blueness of Melbourne Park,
everything’s much the same.
Gameplay-wise, an attempt to use
the right stick to control shots seems only partially implemented,
so its face buttons for shot choices. Strength is indicated by a
disc above your player’s head – you hold the button down to
perfection while reading play and trying to position your player and
rubbing your tummy and...
Real players are limited to 12
women and six blokes currently, however free updates are promised.
Players look vaguely reminiscent of who they’re supposed to be,
while a limited editor allows you to Dr Frankenstein your own.
It all looks OK – but there’s no AO glitter, not even a
commentary! It’s little things, too – like ball boys/girls appearing
to have just returned from the taxidermist – they don’t move! Minor,
sure, but presentation is important.
However, it isn’t as
important as slick gameplay, and sadly AO Tennis doesn’t
deliver. Players do crab impersonations – crazy-infuriating when
trying to position for a serve - and movement generally is just...
kinda... slow. Sometimes, players just stand there as a ball whizzes
by, despite appearing to be in the right spot. Even gimping skills
to ‘amateur’ makes little difference, save for AI opponents hitting
the net more. Cue more waiting...
We were getting slammed,
until we discovered the key to winning. Nine times out of 10, a drop
shot will have your AI opponent stumbling for the ball and failing.
Once you realise this, it makes things even more of a slog.
The best tennis games combine sim and fun. Virtua Tennis
got it, as did Super Tennis 27 years ago. There have
already been several updates to AO Tennis in its first
week, hopefully many more will come.