Game Reviews

World of Tennis: Roaring '20s review - Nostalgic sports game with a few faults

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World of Tennis: Roaring '20s review - Nostalgic sports game with a few faults

The modern game of tennis is exhausting to watch. Super-fit athletes bomb around the court for several hours at a time, hitting the ball at ferocious speeds with a high-tech slip of carbon fibre.

Back in the 1920s, the sport was a rather more genteel affair. Its predominantly amateur players would dress like they were about to go for lunch at the local country club, while the racquets were crude wooden instruments with tiny heads.

It's this elegant, slower-paced version of the sport that World of Tennis: Roaring '20s seeks to replicate. It does so perhaps a little too successfully in places.

Agassi my house from here

The swipey, semi-automated racquet-play at the heart of World of Tennis: Roaring '20s is pretty simple. Your player automatically ambles after the ball, largely leaving you to deal with the matter of hitting the ball.

This can be achieved in two different ways. You can tap where you want to send it for a nailed on, if weak, placed shot. Alternatively, you can issue a timed upward swipe to put a little more welly into it.

Timing is key here, as if you address the ball too early or late your power and placement will suffer. It's also possible to move your player with a little more pre-emptive purpose by tapping on your side of the court.

All pretty straight-forward, you might think. So why does the game feel like such hard work?

Federer up of it

There's a frustrating vagueness to World of Tennis's gameplay - a lack of the rhythmically tactile bite that all the best tennis games tend to have.

I think it largely comes down to pace, or the lack thereof. The ball meanders over the net as if you're watching a slo-motion replay, while the players hardly move any faster.

The timing-based swipe system also feels off. In real tennis, getting to a shot quickly and taking it early is a powerful tactic that all the best players employ, but here you seem to be penalised for not waiting for the preordained hit window.

There's just none of the zip or punch that lies at the heart of the real game. You won't be ripping any topspin passing shots or monster smashes here, and that's a large part of the sport's appeal.

Murray up already

The competitive set-up is quite interesting in World of Tennis: Roaring '20s. You start out playing training matches against an AI coach, and they can learn your playing style and adapt to help you work on various shots.

Heading into the matches proper, you'll find yourself going up against the AI-driven avatars of other real players. It's halfway between true multiplayer and a ghost time trial from a racing game, and it yields a number of playing styles.

The presentation, too, nails the detail and ambiance of the period, from the choice of dapper outfits to the jaunty music. It's certainly a departure from the somewhat soulless likes of Virtua Tennis.

It's just a shame that the stroke play at the heart of the game is so woolly and lethargic.

World of Tennis: Roaring '20s review - Nostalgic sports game with a few faults

The period detail makes for a refreshing approach to tennis, but the swipey gameplay in World of Tennis: Roaring '20s is as slow and wooden as a 1920s racquet
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.