TopSpin 2K25 Review

After a 13-year absence from our screens, the TopSpin series is back to serve, volley and smash its way back onto our screens.

Still under the tutelage of the folks over at 2K, the added extra of “2K25” to the name implies this will be the first of many TopSpin games to come as we work our way through this generation.

This time, though, development duties were handed to Hangar 13, best known for Mafia III and the remakes/remasters of Mafia and Mafia II. This might send a chill down die-hard fans’ spines, but the folks at Hangar 13 really have taken their time with this one, and it clearly shows.

Now, let’s take to court and smash out this review.

 

Graphics and Licensed Players

Now, this is an area that is very much a mixed bag for me. On one hand, you have stars like Roger Federer and Serena Williams, who look almost identical to their real-world counterparts. Then you have some less than faithful recreations, like British tennis legend Andy Murray, who unless you saw his name pop up under his character, you would have no idea it was him.

Some legends of the game are included, such as Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova, alongside current stars like Carlos Alcaraz and Frances Tiafoe. However, there are some glaring omissions, like men’s number one Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal. Hangar 13 has said there will be more pros added post-launch.

The pre-match sequences do a great job of imitating an actual tennis broadcast, and the amount of real-world licenced gear from prominent brands like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance adds to the sense of realism. Furthermore, the menus are well-designed, and the music is appropriate.

The only time I would say these cutscenes felt a bit fake is no matter the tournament that you win, the trophy awarding ceremony all plays out the same way, which honestly made winning some of the grand slam tournaments feel a little bit hollow, in my opinion.

 

Gameplay and Modes

This is what 2K sports games do so well, and for a series that has spent more than a decade off the court, you would think this might lead to some inconsistencies once the racket was back in hand.

You could not be more wrong. This game is as faithful a recreation of the sport as it gets. Prolonged rallies do tire the player out as much as the character on-screen, and when you land that perfect serve or smash, it feels so powerful that you feel the speed and ferocity of the ball as it hits the court.

Getting the timing right on shots is key if you want to avoid the long, drawn-out rallies, especially on the higher difficulties. There are five different shot types in TopSpin 2K25, and each presents its own risks and rewards. The difficulty comes as you pick which one to execute as the ball is fired at you with such speed that you have very little time to make up your mind.

You also have to remember your positioning on the court as well to make sure you can hit the shot perfectly. Overall, the gameplay and pure fundamentals of the game are superb and can’t be faulted in any way.

Now, onto possibly one of TopSpin 2K25‘s few negatives: the modes—or lack thereof.

Offline modes are limited to the Career Mode and Exhibition matches, and that’s it. The Career Mode is fun but bogged down by two unfortunate video game tropes: an extensive grind and microtransactions. Early in your career, you will be matched up against players in tournaments that vastly outrank you, and you will get easily beaten unless you turn the difficulty right down, but as you progress (very slowly, I might add), you do feel a sense of accomplishment when you beat these higher ranked players and eventually make it to grand slams, like the Australian Open or US Open.

However, the Career Mode is hampered by this slow progression, which can, of course, be bypassed via microtransactions. These artificial boosts let you skip the grind to whatever extent your wallet allows and take some of the hard work away. Like in the NBA 2K series, these microtransactions do garner much-deserved criticism, but as long as people are paying the money, they will always feature in these titles.

My last two cents on the microtransactions. I know that you are trying to earn that extra bit from players who may have just bought the standard game at £52, but don’t make it so obvious that you are after more money. On the main menu screen, there are four tiles, two of which are just there to push the microtransaction elements. There’s also an advertising board on the main menu that displays new items available in the Pro Shop to encourage people to spend their money on pointless cosmetic items or a new racket.

There is also the addition of a season pass called Centre Court pass, which again, will be paid-for content to unlock your usual cosmetic items. Honestly, unless you are that much of a stickler for making your pro look like he/she has stepped out of their local Sports Direct (other sportswear shops are available), then you can be fine missing out on most of this and the microtransactions in general.

If you do tire of the grind, then you can jump into the online modes, which are…..Exhibition Mode and Tournaments….end of list. This is just a bemusing part of TopSpin 2K25 as there is no ability to play with your friends online or set up a custom tournament and invite your friends to compete for the fictitious Audi Cup or whatever you want to call it.

 

Conclusion

Overall, TopSpin 2K25 is a great return to form for a series that has lied dormant for 13 years. The grind of the Career Mode and the lack of modes might mean it is very much a pick-up-and-play title for the odd game once in a while or when the big tennis majors come around, but if you are a hardcore tennis fan, you will love this game like I did as the fundamentals of the on-court action are just superb and have to be commended.

Hopefully, Hangar 13 will stick to its word, keep adding to this game as the months go on, and try to limit how much of that content is locked behind the dreaded microtransaction paywall.

Onwards and upwards for TopSpin!

Developer: Hangar 13

Publisher: 2K Games

Platforms: PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC,

Release Date: 23rd April 2024

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