GIF: eggmond via Twitch
There's a new tennis game! And while AO Tennis doesn't officially release until tomorrow, one store broke street date late last week. And that's a good thing for everyone, because if the footage is anything to go by, the game is rough.
AO Tennis is the first tennis game we've had in a while. It's also Australian made, coming out of the same studio responsible for Ashes Cricket and the Don Bradman Cricket games.
But eyebrows started to raise slightly last week. The game was due out in a fortnight, and people had only ever seen over-the-shoulder footage in promo videos. Where was the direct gameplay, people asked? Big Ant replied on Twitter, saying that "there are some great things ... that need to be kept under wraps until the first match begins".
Hi tennis fans! An important update on AO Tennis below, and some new screenshots for your viewing pleasure :-) pic.twitter.com/VBea1IYsSF
— Big Ant Studios (@BigAntStudios) January 11, 2018
That was Friday morning, four days before AO Tennis was scheduled to hit store shelves. And even considering that, it's a bit of a weird sell. Big Ant aren't allowed to show off direct feed of their own game until a day or two before it goes on sale?
Fortunately, Australian retailers intervened. Zachary Clarke, a writer for Aussie indie site Rocket Chainsaw, picked up a copy of AO Tennis from Target in Melbourne City. And after downloading a few patches, he began to stream a bit of gameplay.
Spoiler: it wasn't good.
The doubles basically looks like a singles match with two other bodies standing on the field, utterly motionless. If you watch enough action, you can see instances where the player at the net actually reacts.
But for the most part, they're lifeless, stiff, and unresponsive to the action around them.
Singles action is a lot improved, but there's still a jankiness throughout. It's particularly noticeable whenever a player goes to hit the ball. It's almost like the player character is reacting at the last second, sometimes even being dragged towards the ball.
I'll be spending more time with AO Tennis later this week, and there's a 5GB day one patch due out which hopefully corrects some of the jankiness and glaring AI issues. On the flip side, at least AO Tennis won't be the only new tennis game out this year. Tennis Elbow 4's tentatively scheduled for an early access release this year too, although that date could easily be moved.