This title was reviewed on Xbox One, but is also available on PC.
Tennis is a sport that’s certainly seen the rounds in terms of gaming. You have Mario Tennis, Virtua Tennis, Wii Sports Tennis; hell even GTA V and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 featured the sport as a minigame. With so many great Tennis games around it would take a lot to stand out, so does Smoots World Cup Tennis manage to break the mould? Let’s have a look.
Right away, the grey, bland main menu sets a precedent for the rest of the game’s visuals, as they don’t really improve much once you get into the actual gameplay. Smoots World Cup Tennis tries to go for a standout art style with its hyper deformed characters, but they just come off as uninspired, and the texture work makes it look like something that would be foudn in a mobile game. The only things that are decent are the courts themselves, as they vary by colour and are actually somewhat presentable, but they don’t save the game’s overall visuals.
The gameplay in Smoots World Cup Tennis is as basic as a tennis game can get when it comes to your standard gameplay. As is standard, you have to get the ball to the opponent’s end of the court and make sure it bounces twice before they can hit it back. The basic rules are preserved here. In an attempt to add a bit of strategy, there’s three different types of shot you can do; a standard hit, a lob, and a slice. When against the AI though it doesn’t really matter how you hit the ball, as they’re able to counter you almost constantly, leading to the game to just be one big rally until the AI, or you, screw up, and you’ll do it constantly because of the poor controls. There’s a significant delay when pressing the swing button, and for some reason the game locks you in place until you’ve finished your swing, so there’s very little chance for correction if you screw up. This all leads to gameplay that honestly isn’t very engaging or even fun.
It’s a shame that the gameplay sucks though, because there’s actually some solid gamemodes here. You have your standard Exhibition, which lets you create any 1v1 bout, and Tournament, which lets you create your own multi-player tourneys. These modes really help with replayability, but they’re far from the star of the show: the Story Mode. While it might be incorrectly named due to it lacking an actual story and it being more like a simulation Career mode, it’s actually impressive. Not only is it massive, but there’s a surprising amount of stuff to do. You have a slew of events to play from 1v1 exhibitions to tournaments, each giving you cash prizes and levelling up your stats, allowing you to get better after each match, even if you lose. You also have to manage your stamina by going home and resting, adding some surprising depth to the game. The Story Mode also hits you with some random and certainly welcome minigames, such as defending your position from a horde of bloodthirsty zombies by hitting them with fireballs. It’s a shame that all of these interesting gamemodes are bogged down by such poor gameplay, as there would be some enjoyment to be had here.
The game is also poor audio-wise. While the menu music is ok, there’s none to be found in the actual gameplay, leading you to be stuck with the same three high-pitched moans that your characters do when they hit the ball, which are damn annoying. The umpire is also annoying and repetitive too, and the overall audio made me mute my TV and put Spotify on instead.
Smoots World Cup Tennis is just a mess on all fronts. While the courts look okay, they’re the only good part of the visuals that wouldn’t look out of place on a phone, being bland and uninspired. The gameplay is incredibly flawed, with clunky, unresponsive controls, which is a shame because the Story Mode has some great potential, with its surprising depth and fun minigames. The audio doesn’t help either, with mediocre music that disappears once the game starts, leaving you with annoying, high-pitched moans and a boring umpire. If you want a good Tennis game, go for the ones I listed at the start.