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Lounge review: Play like Rafael Nadal in AO Tennis 2

Missed out on the Australian Open? ‘AO Tennis 2’ has enough—customization, improved ball physics and more game modes—to keep you hooked

‘AO Tennis 2’ features Rafael Nadal.
‘AO Tennis 2’ features Rafael Nadal.

After breathing new life into the tennis gaming genre with AO International Tennis in 2018, developer Big Ant is back with a sequel, AO Tennis 2. Like its predecessor, this game has been developed in collaboration with the Australian Open and offers the peculiarities of all the venues seen in the year’s first Grand Slam. Though the Australian Open ended earlier this month, AO Tennis 2 has plenty to keep users hooked and enjoy some action on the court, including unlicensed versions of all the other major Grand Slams, along with ATP and WTA tournaments.

The new game also expands in other areas. There are multiple new game modes such as Play Now, where you can play a quick match; Scenario, which lets gamers create custom tournaments; and the Online mode to take on real-world opponents. There’s also a Career mode, which gets a huge boost with in-game animation similar to some of the latest Fifa video-game titles. Players can chat with their agents, coaches and even hold press conferences. Players can also react during matches—you get to show your frustration at losing a point. While it may feel good at that point, a negative reaction on the court can affect fan approval ratings and sponsorships for the player.

The biggest upgrade comes in the form of improved ball physics. In the first game, ball control felt inconsistent, affecting shot accuracy and putting gamers at a disadvantage in tight games. Edging slightly closer to the line can lead to an unforced error. In AO Tennis 2, the player is more in control of the ball. Different courts now produce varied effects on speed, bounce and ball spin, making the playing experience differ every time on a new court.

Game controls are elaborate and include multiple combination-based trick shots. They can be useful against higher-ranked opponents.

Unlike some Big Ant games like Don Bradman Cricket, which only supported controllers, AO Tennis 2 can be controlled with either a keyboard or controller. While playing with a keyboard isn’t as much fun, it does allow you to play even if you don’t own a controller.

Compared to its predecessor, AO Tennis 2 has more licensed player rosters with realistic player faces and appearance. It still misses out on some of the top-ranked players but there are some big names you can play as: Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Gaël Monfils and Marin Čilić, for instance. From the women’s roster, one can play as Angelique Kerber, Samantha Stosur and Johanna Konta.

Customization remains a big draw of the AO Tennis series. This sequel takes it to the next level by allowing gamers to not just create players but stadiums in the Scenario mode. While this is ideal for gamers who love custom-made players and venues, the process can be tedious and time-consuming.

AO Tennis 2 feels like a more refined game than AO International Tennis, with enough to keep interest in the series alive. Moreover, unlike EA Sports and 2K Sports (the developers of the Top Spin series), Big Ant isn’t charging a premium for AO Tennis 2 at 1,299. If you missed out on watching the Grand Slam, then this is your chance to experience it.

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