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Matchpoint Tennis Championships Preview - Here Comes Another Competitor

Matchpoint Tennis Championships preview

Matchpoint Tennis Championships

Matchpoint Tennis Championships Preview - Here Comes Another Competitor

Tennis lends itself so well to both a single-player and multiplayer experience that, if done right, can lead to a single game or franchise being talked about for years after its release — Top Spin and Virtua Tennis still get love for a reason. While we are not ready to declare whether Matchpoint Tennis Championships is heading down that path, I do want to talk about my time playing the game and go over some things I learned while attending their preview event.

Matchpoint Tennis Championships Preview

Matchpoint Tennis Championships box art

Highlights From The Devs

  • Deep career mode featuring a unique merit-based ranking system
  • Choose your look, fashion, and play style with an array of customization options, including true to life techniques such as left-or right-handed, one-handed, or two-handed backhand
  • From rackets to clothing, the game features gear from all tennis name brands, including Babolat, YONEX, HEAD, and many more. Unlock special equipment by winning competitive matches.
  • Matchpoint – Tennis Championships features 16 real-life international tennis stars from the professional circuit, including Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori, and Amanda Anisimova
  • Play against a cunning AI or face your friends and rivals on the court via local sessions and online cross-play
  • Hire a personal coach to hone your skills. Buff your strengths and diminish your weaknesses with an in-game coaching system of individual training modules
  • Each court has its own characteristics; study your arenas of play and adapt your game to grass, clay, and hard courts
  • Play against a cunning AI or face your friends and rivals on the court via local sessions and online cross-play

What I Like

On-Court Physics

While I’m not a regular to tennis games anymore, I still think back to titles like Top Spin 4, Virtua Tennis, Tennis Elbow, and Full Ace Tennis as points comparison and games I loved. Fair or not, that’s also how I judged Matchpoint Tennis Championships during my time with the preview build. With that in mind, I came away excited about my experience. For me, the enjoyment of a tennis title stems from the fluidity of player movement, the accuracy of ball placement, and the response of reactionary ball physics. While it is still early, MPTC delivered a high level of fun and addictiveness in all three categories.

Matchpoint Tennis Championships gameplay

Physics and animations often go hand in hand, and I will delve into the animations a bit later, but there was a lot to be impressed with during my time with MPTC. The one noticeable issue was there wasn’t really a differentiation in the type of surface that I played on. This means that both the ball and player reacted the same, whether it was clay, grass, or a hard court. This seems like a rather big deal, so I do hope more care is put into that component before launch. That said, the high level of fun and stellar player and ball movement do enough to make this issue slip to the back of my thoughts to some degree.

Beyond that, the way players reacted to the court in conjunction with the type of swing they were attempting to deliver really shines here. Add in how the ball reacted both off the surface and the racket, and Matchpoint Tennis Championships provided an extraordinarily fluid and physical experience.

Career

Luckily, career mode was included in the preview build, and I jumped at the chance to dive deep into the mode. The game starts you out at the genesis of your career and puts the path and arc of your career in your hands. There is no hype, no story built around you, and no expectations that need to be lived up to. You start your career with limited shoes, clothing, rackets, and other gear options, but are given a chance to earn “MTP” points by accomplishing certain feats that reward you with in-game currency.

This currency allows you to purchase new clothes and equipment as you progress. Some of the latest equipment and clothing will come with additional skill points, so it’s essential to keep pushing in tournaments and exhibitions that lead to extra skill point opportunities. While I loved my time in career mode, there were some minor animation issues, and the AI did struggle with consistency too often. In other words, I found it too easy to recognize their patterns and take advantage of them. The developers are fully aware of these problems and are working to correct them before release.

The bottom line is that the career mode for MPTC is rather deep and customizable, and it shows the potential to warrant a deep run once the game is out in the wild.

Animations

As mentioned before, this was still a preview build, but things are shaping up rather nicely on the animation front. During the presentation that I was privy to, the developers mentioned that many professional players and coaches helped with the motion capture, body language, and motions on-court of the players seen throughout the game, and it’s very evident.

What impressed me the most was the movement and momentum of the players throughout the match. On top of that, the multiple types of shots looked just as impressive. It’s a really strong start in terms of authenticity and simply looking like real tennis. Again, I did see some hiccups with a couple animations, but I do believe those will mostly be ironed out before release. What’s important to note here is that the game does a beautiful job of replicating both the player movement and ball reactions off the court and racket.

What’s Next?

The developers do believe they can turn Matchpoint Tennis Championships into a franchise that will ultimately lead to more prominent tennis stars appearing in the series — and hopefully a more extensive creation suite that will include venue and player creations that can be shared online. The full release of Matchpoint Tennis Championships is slated for July 7, 2022, and will appear on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and PlayStation 5.

As with most games that I preview, check back here at Operation Sports a few days before release for my full review. You can also check out a demo of the game to see how you think it looks so far.

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