Review: Tennis World Tour Roland Garros Edition
When Big Ben asked us to review the Roland Garros edition of the Tennis World Tour, I was thrilled. Last year the Tennis World Tour came out and wasn't such a success and I'm hopeful that this version will be a bit better. Shall we see if any progress has been made?
Just to get straight to the point, not really. This version of Tennis World Tour only adds all DLC, including new DLC released for the current tournament. Here we are talking about three stages: The Philippe-Chatrier center court, the Suzanne-Lenglen court and the Simonne-Mathieu court. Furthermore, the best-known stages are missing. Playing at the fictional "Supreme Stadium" doesn't have the same appeal as the center court of Wimbledon. It's already a tough sell if names like Djokovic, Nishikori and Del Potro are simply missing. It's really bad for the ladies. Five ladies in total, with this version Mladenovic added.
I say this all a bit jokingly, but in the end it's all about the gameplay. I'd rather play a good game with missing content than a bad one with. Unfortunately, the Tennis World Tour also falls short here. A lot has been improved since last year's release, but this has nothing to do with it being the Roland Garros edition, it's simply a matter of patches.
Tennis games inherently have the problem that coming up with a good way of controlling them is difficult. There are several decisions that all have to be made in one and a half seconds. Tennis World Tour is chosen to do the shot largely automatically, you determine the type of shot with a certain button and the direction with your stick. Although several tennis games choose to apply it this way, this game is very selective when it works or not. One moment the game chooses to do something you don't ask for and the next moment you run to the ball with the player and then don't respond to your input.
Pay special attention to "missing" the ball and scary players.
If it does work, you will notice what the developer has been trying to achieve. With a limited number of actions on your controller you can achieve many different strokes. You have the standard strokes where you use the shoulder buttons as sort of modifiers. Where in most tennis games you try to blow the ball as hard as possible, in the Tennis World Tour it's more about balance. The harder you hit, the less control you have over direction and distance. This way you can fine-tune your strokes much better, provided the game does not determine that it wants your tennis player to do something else. Because when it doesn't work, it can ruin your entire match.
Graphically, the Tennis World Tour is very meh. The tennis players often look like Barbie dolls and at times when emotion is expressed I would even call them scary. Animations usually don't flow smoothly and that gives a very unrealistic feeling. That's a shame, since the animations themselves look good. Virtua Tennis 4 manages to put down a better overall presentation with less graphical capabilities, even on PlayStation Vita. Sound is also good, hitting the ball with the racket has the correct ompf and the audience usually reacts credibly to what happens on the court. What does wake up very quickly is the commentary, luckily the volume can be turned down completely.
That doesn't mean it's all bad, though. The career mode and customization is fine. You can also unlock cards that you can use during the matches for certain bonuses. This gives a more dynamic aspect to the career of your tennis player. AI players react more realistically than many previous tennis games I've played and make believable unforced mistakes. In general, the marches and rallies are longer by default, which gives a more realistic aspect, as we have seen before in Top Spin. Not surprising when you consider that part of the development team worked on that game.
Compared to last year it is clear that it is no longer quite the same game, but that is also allowed after no less than fourteen patches. The gameplay has improved, but certainly not where it should be. Graphically there is still a lot of progress to be made and it needs to be tied together better. It's nice that this is sold as "Roland Garros Edition", but that is very little. Overall, the game still doesn't feel finished, but there's a lot of potential. Perhaps the next part will be a lot better. I hope we don't have to wait too long for that, because only two tennis games have been released during this generation of consoles, neither of them managed to come out well.
If you purchase the full "Roland Garros" version of the game, you'll get the Legends Pack, which includes John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, an extra track and some padding. Unfortunately I can't tell you anything about this pack. If you already own Tennis World Tour, the Legends and Roland Garros packs both count as separate DLC and cost €19.99 each, which I think is very pricey given the limited extra content.
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