Australian Nick Kyrgios is tennis’ most shot maverick, a controversy-courting Happy Gilmore figure who doesn’t march to the beat of his own drum but dons a pair of bright red, no-nonsense basketball sneakers. shamelessly trample the sultry, all-white traditions of Wimbledon. Its prominent placement on the cover of Matchpoint: Tennis Championships hints that developer Torus Games’ debut tennis sim is about to finally shake things up for the stagnating tennis genre… but sadly, it didn’t. is not proven to be the case. A fluid but unbalanced style of play, an uninspiring career mode and surprisingly limited multiplayer support mean that the only trait Matchpoint shares with its provocative standout is an overriding sense of wasted potential.
To its credit, Matchpoint’s clean control setup makes it extremely easy to pick up. Your player’s movement is strongly assisted so that you only have to push the controller in the general direction of a returned ball and they are automatically guided to the ideal position to meet it. This keeps you focused on your opponent’s side of the court, where you can steer around a plate-sized crosshairs and fire a standard range of tennis shots with a level of accuracy that goes above and beyond. beyond Djokavic to graze Jedi. precision levels.
It’s a rally system that’s certainly reliable and gives you a lot of freedom, but it’s also a little too easy to master because it’s all reward and very little risk. The timing window for your shots is extremely generous and you are in no way penalized for overcooking a shot or serving. There are probably computerized ball throwers who have made more unforced errors than me in my 20 or so hours of play – you almost have to do your best to actually hit the ball outside the lines and can make shots crossed at impossible angles without flinching. So yeah, Matchpoint feels like some kind of hardened tennis terminator to me… But when you’re sure you can land a pass shot from almost anywhere, that translates into rallies that pretty much have as much tension as a tennis racket strung with spaghetti.
Ball too easy
The ability to paint the lines so easily is also detrimental to Matchpoint’s career mode, as it renders the progression system almost entirely useless. While my created player started out with modest levels of firepower and spin, his accuracy was laser driven from the start. This meant that from day one of the tour, I was hitting around 50 clear winners for each one that landed wide. The size of the aiming reticle and your unerring ability to hit it remain consistent throughout, and even with the difficulty set to the highest setting, I stormed seven straight tournament wins and was number one worldwide during the first months of my career. ; this despite only completing one of the stat-boosting training mini-games along the way.
Admittedly, it’s a blessing that these practice minigames can be skipped, since they’re either utterly mundane (like when you have to play a game of Simon Says for groundstrokes) or implemented. awkwardly (like the aces-serving drill that faces a receiver who is standing so far from the service box that he might as well sign autographs). But completing these simple training drills is about as deep as the career management aspect of Matchpoint, which made me feel pretty disinvested in my player’s success. There are no sponsorship deals to consider or injuries to consider, and instead you simply go from one indistinct, unlicensed tennis tournament to the next, ripping off more silverware than a sticky-fingered butler at Buckingham Palace.
Matchpoint – Tennis Championships – Hands-On Screenshots
At least I guess the trophies are silver, because Matchpoint never shows them to you. While player animations are smooth and pitch detail is crisp, there’s a noticeable lack of life and no real sense of occasion imbued in every competition, with every tournament culminating in the same static results screen. There are no trophy presentations after a final, no handshakes between players, no statistical overlays in the broadcast presentation, and the small handful of faces in the crowd are reused so heavily that it’s almost as if stadium tickets had a “buy one, get two free”. » promotions for sets of identical triplets.
Similar cosmetic limitations are also imposed on your created player. With just a handful of heads and haircuts to choose from, and no options to customize serve moves or effort grunts, it’s nearly impossible to produce anyone other than John or Jane Smith of the States. States of Generica. Worse still, while Matchpoint’s 18 licensed professionals are each decked out in brand name gear such as Nike and Adidas, the clothing and gear available to your player is strictly unnamed. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you’re strutting down center court surrounded by billboards of big names like Asics and Wilson, and dressed in a t-shirt and shorts that look like they’ve just rolled out of your mother’s sewing machine, holding an off-brand tennis racket that looks like it was purchased from a sleazy Facebook ad.
games of the weak
While you occasionally encounter real-world gunslingers like Daniil Medvedev and Taylor Fritz on the men’s circuit, and Victoria Azarenka and Madison Keys on the women’s circuit, an overwhelming number of matches in Matchpoint’s career are played against fictional opponents. While it’s pretty hard to tell these carbon copy competitors apart since they’re cut from the same restricted character creation toolset as your avatar, Matchpoint at least tries to inject some individuality into each of them by giving them a handful of strengths and weaknesses that can be discovered during a game.
Note that you can’t intuitively identify these traits, but rather they are spoken by a distracting splatter of text that appears in the upper right corner of the screen in the middle of the rally. One opponent may grow impatient during a long rally and tend to rush the net, for example, while another may begin to serve harder as they rack up aces in a service game. It’s an interesting idea on paper, but in practice it had very little effect on how I approached each point, and because of that it felt like an artificial way to force a change of strategy that was never really needed. Every AI opponent I’ve faced may as well have had a soft spot for red velvet cupcakes for all the difference it made to the way I played against them, as I constantly worked each one of them out of position before striking out another perfectly placed winner a few millimeters inside the baseline.
Desperate for a modicum of challenge, I eventually tried disabling the aim marker entirely in the options menu, but feeling targeting alone moved the shooting difficulty so far the other way that it left me only forced to adopt a more conservative and attritional style of play; return the ball to the center of the field until my opponent inevitably made a mistake, which quickly bored. I wish the developers could have found some sort of compromise between the superhuman precision shooting offered by the aim marker and the nebulous guesswork involved in doing without it.
Of course, there’s a lot more nuance to be found when going up against human opponents, and it’s as a multiplayer game that Matchpoint is at its best since it puts you face-to-face with a player theoretically equipped with the same skills. that you. It’s a shame, then, that options for multiplayer are so sparse. Online play is limited to casual or ranked one-off matches, with no ability to create or participate in tournaments. Worse, all multiplayer matches – online and offline – are strictly for singles, like going to sign up for a tennis club but accidentally landing on eHarmony’s signup page.
It seems almost unfathomable that a tennis game released in 2022 would lack what has long since become such an enjoyable and expected feature of the genre in the form of a doubles game, but that’s not the only design appeal. Matchpoint that needs to be disputed. I also wonder why I’m forced to play a qualifying set at the start of every tournament in career mode, even when I’m ranked number one in the world, or why there are 13 licensed male players included and only five female players. And of course, the most ironic call I want to challenge: why can’t I challenge one of the referee’s calls? Line-calling challenges have been a part of professional tennis for over 15 years, so it’s odd that they’re not included here – especially when Matchpoint linesmen tend to miss more calls than the dead man’s phone.