Tennis games aren’t exactly a dime a dozen these days, which isn’t something you can say for a ton of other sports games. But on the flip side, we get to have a number of distinct experiences from different studios across the globe. Matchpoint Tennis Championships is Torus Games’ take on the prestiged sport, and while everything outside the court’s boundaries may not be the most polished or exciting – but when it comes to actually pulling the shots – Matchpoint Tennis Championships can end up being really fun at times.
Upon booting up the game, you will be greeted with a short tutorial that takes you through the basics of tennis such as how to deal serves and the different kinds of shots one can play. On the PlayStation 5, the cross button is for a flat shot – which is a straight shot and great for when you want a lot of speed. The circle button is for a topspin shot which when used correctly, can make it really hard for your opponents to follow up. The triangle is for a lob shot which helps when you need time to reposition yourself, and so on and so forth. The triggers are used for prioritizing shots like volleys, which can also prove to be useful in certain tactical situations. Positioning is also an important part of the equation, and you need to have a solid grasp on both player position and where the ball bounces – which is done through a well-implemented and responsive targeting system.
"The AI can be pretty aggressive at times, and when given the chance – your opponents will easily close the points gap in mere moments."
Matchpoint Tennis Championships seems to be aiming for a fine-tuned balance between accessibility and depth with its mix of simulation and arcade mechanics – and it generally hits the sweet spot with its moment-to-moment gameplay. Those just starting out with tennis titles may find this tutorial a bit overwhelming, but once you get the hang of it – you will be easily switching between shot types as and when needed easily. That said, it’s really important that you actually complete the tutorial and gain a basic understanding of how the actual gameplay works before diving head-first to matches.
Because booting up into a quick match without a proper knowledge of the systems is essentially a death sentence, since opponents are fierce and will quickly ace through sets if you don’t know what you are doing. My time with Matchpoint Tennis Championships was mostly spent on the Semi-Pro difficulty, and most opponents would require me to carefully assess the situation everytime and make meaningful plays to win points. The AI can be pretty aggressive at times, and when given the chance – your opponents will easily close the points gap in mere moments.
"Strengths can be anything from a strong backhand shot to an increased spin in top spin shots, while weaknesses range from being unable to play cross-court shots to becoming anxious on breakpoint."
Matchpoint Tennis Championships has two basic gameplay modes – a quick match and a career mode. The former allows you to select your player character and an opponent from the game’s humbly sized roster of tennis superstars along with the ruleset and type of ground where you want to play. The Career mode on the other hand, sees you create your own tennis player from a fleshed-out character creator and embark on a long journey to make it to the top. You will undergo multiple training routines, exhibition matches, and championship matches as you try to make a name for yourself in the prestiged sport. Winning these matches will earn you new gear like rackets, shoes which increase your MPT points that are your player stats.
One of the more interesting parts of the Career mode matches is the game’s strengths and weaknesses system. As you start to exchange a few shots with your arch nemesis, a pop-up will indicate the opponent’s strength and weakness. Strengths can be anything from a strong backhand shot to an increased spin in top spin shots, while weaknesses range from being unable to play cross-court shots to becoming anxious on breakpoint. One time I came across an opponent who would get impatient after playing a couple of shots and charge towards the net. So I intently exchanged a few shots, and sure enough when the enemy charged at the net – I followed up with a fast fiat shot aimed at the back of the court for an easy win again and again. Since you will be facing threats with stats mostly superior to your own, it’s vital that you study your opponent and build a strategy around avoiding their strengths and exploiting their weaknesses.
"In conclusion, Matchpoint Tennis Championships ends up feeling like a game of two halves."
Unlike something like WWE 2k22, there’s no overarching story tying the career mode matches all together; you simply choose matches and play through them one after the other. As such, playing through the career starts becoming boring after a while – which is made even more aggravating when you consider there isn’t much to play other than that. Matchpoint Tennis Championships allows you to compete in online matches and even supports cross-platform play, but since I wasn’t able to find any matches during review – I am reserving my judgments on the matter. Apart from these three major modes, you only get a handful of FIFA-esque Skill Games that hone in on a certain aspect of training, and the only reason to revisit them after gaining an understanding of the system is to try and beat your high score which is to say there isn’t anything much there as well.
Furthermore, you can’t even participate in tournaments without entering the career mode. Add that with the lack of popular match types like doubles, and Matchpoint Tennis Championships starts to feel like a package that’s really light on content. On that note, I should also mention that there are only 20 tennis superstars in the roster, and while all of them are licensed players – almost none of them are widely renowned like Roger Federer or Maria Sharapova which are obviously enough, absent from the roster. The same feeling of being a half-baked package extends to the presentation as well, as the game’s visuals do leave a lot to be desired. It’s fine enough to not be distracting to the experience, but it certainly feels lacking in the textures and facial models department. The game’s soundtrack is also composed of generic-sounding tracks, which obviously does not hold a candle to the many licensed tracks that the likes of FIFA feature with their annualized entries.
"In its current state, Matchpoint Tennis Championships is a decent game but not one that you’d want to really sink your teeth into. "
In conclusion, Matchpoint Tennis Championships ends up feeling like a game of two halves. On one hand, the on-court experience of trading a flurry of shots with your opponent is great – all thanks to a simple but effective control scheme and formidable opponents that will test your understanding of these mechanics. On the other hand though, everything supporting that basic structure like the career mode and training mini-games and player roster- all end up feeling barebones. Topping it all off is a lack of support for additional game modes like doubles tennis alongside a visual and audio presentation that leaves a lot to be desired. In its current state, Matchpoint Tennis Championships is a decent game but not one that you’d want to really sink your teeth into.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Simple and effective control scheme; strengths and weaknesses system is well-implemented and fun.
Barebones game modes; a small roster of players; no support for doubles; can't play championships and tournaments without career mode; flat graphics.