May 25, 2024
Thirteen years off the court, does TopSpin still have what it takes? The Finger Guns review:

It’s been a long time for tennis fans to wait for another brand new simulation. We’ve got to go back to the wonders of TopSpin 4 way back in 2011 for the previous slice of tennis greatness (the likes of AO Tennis not living up to those lofty heights and Virtua Tennis disappearing like potential every time Tim Henman took the court at Wimbledon), so a good thirteen years later 2K have seen it true to jump back into their flagship tennis series for another overhead smash over the net, and it’s safe to say they’ve hit match point with this absolute blast of tennis goodness. 

The responsibility of this version rests on the head of Hangar 13, best known for the Mafia series. Safe to say the genres are somewhat different, but you can’t argue with the quality of the presentation on offer, despite it feeling a little lackadaisical in comparison to the likes of their other sports titles, namely NBA and WWE 2K, whose titles feel like a genuine 1:1 simulator in most cases.

Still, what TopSpin has to offer is more than enough to satisfy the most ardent of tennis fans. With every major tournament available to play along with full licences in terms of cosmetics and real players all over the shop from the latest tennis heroes such as Emily Raducanu to Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff, you can create some banger matches between legends to see how your wildest Wimbledon final fantasies would play out right there in a beautifully realised version of Centre Court.

And it just feels so good. Playing across a multitude of court types (grass, clay etc..) all feel as realistic as you would expect, and the movement of players feels weighty and brisk – though don’t stand in No Man’s Land you absolute monsters, you’re ruining the game for everyone smh).

In training you’re told off when you’re standing in the wrong places but it’s not a huge deal when it comes to actually winning matches (no matter how the internet may feel about it, quite amazingly), but you can earn extra pointage in matches if you can pull off perfect shots, adding an extra mechanic throughout each match whilst you’re also just aiming to win whilst Federer is staring you down and dropping you like trash. TopSpin requires tactical thinking and has more strategy within its mechanics than you might expect, allowing a far more simulator feel than the more arcadey feel of Virtua Tennis, for example. Each has their place in the world. Can’t we all just get along?

A new mechanic that took a little while to get my head around was the stroke mechanic, which tasks you with hitting the ball in line with a speed gauge. Each face button (and R2, at least on PS5) provides a variety of different strokes which all require quick time responses to hit the gauge in the correct place in order to hit a controlled and accurate shot.

Naturally the further you stand back the more control you’ll have over your shots, so it’s beneficial to be behind the line when returning and you’ll notice the gauge slows down somewhat giving you a little bit of extra time to finesse your return.

The further you move into the court you’ll notice that the gauge is quick and small, so you’ll have to get used to the speed in the training. Me being older these days it did take a second to get used to the quickness of the gauge but once it clicks? Well, Centre Court becomes a playground and each match feels brilliant to play.

If there’s another benefit over 2K’s other sports titles it’s that it doesn’t feel absolutely smashed to the limit with microtransactions and it allows TopSpin’s internal progress to feel a little bit more in your control. Player customisation is unlocked through progressing through the game at your own pace (though of course there are options with the virtual currency which you can buy if you so wish). There’s a rather lovely selection of cosmetics on offer, including a beautifully 80’s neon kit that looks about as nonsensical as you can imagine but certainly adds a bit of silliness to an otherwise straight as an arrow simulator.

The stadiums look great, and any fan of the sport will feel right at home on any of the courts available, represented in official tournaments and one off matches that you can curate yourself. Once again, the dream match ups of Serena Williams vs Pete Sampras brings these cross gender matches to life and is fantastic to take part in. If the presentation of the players is a little weaker than we would expect from a 2K sports game (the haircuts definitely leave something to be desired), the stadiums are brimming with detail and have been realised with attention and exuberant detail.

Online there’s a nice selection of game options and whilst we didn’t have a huge amount of time to check it out post-launch (and you can’t even play with your friends until next month for some preposterous reason), the connection was solid and there didn’t appear to be any lag when being matched with strangers. One can only hope we can share a little more on how it plays online post-launch, as more than one Finger Gunner is certain to pick the game up when it arrives. 

It’s an absolute delight to have TopSpin back and 2K25 is a huge return to form for a series that for some reason closed its doors thirteen years ago. We may never get an explanation as to why they chose 2024 to bring back Top Spin but we’re super glad they did, there’s an awful lot of fun to be had here and I’m certain the game will have legs with tennis fans, particularly as Wimbledon is mere weeks away at time of writing. It plays like a dream and whilst it’s not perfect as the typical 2Kness of it all hangs over it like a dark cloud (just, don’t go to the Shop. There’s nothing there worth spending money on for a game already charging you £60).

Even if you’re not a huge fan of the sport – like me – you’ll find plenty to enjoy if you enjoy strategically manoeuvring your way through sports titles then it’s game, set and match for TopSpin 2K25. 

Love love it.

TopSpin 2K25 brings the series back in serious style, with plenty of options to enjoy and absolutely superb gameplay mechanics that really brings the sport to life. The new gauge mechanics bring a whole new level of strategy to the game and the huge roster of new and legendary players allows you to create some classic matches between legends you may have never seen before. TopSpin 2K25 is absolutely superb and thirteen years later, reclaims its crown as the pinnacle of the tennis game genre.

TopSpin 2K25 is available on April 26th on PS5 (review platform), PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X and PC via Steam. Players who preorder can get early access from April 23rd.

Developer: Hangar 13
Publisher: 2K Games

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

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