The New Aussie Tennis Game Looks Real Rough

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".

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.


    The animation looks pretty nice on the serve though :-)

    Mind you, my last tennis game was Virtua Tennis 2 I think...

      I believe they are using motion capture like they did with Ashes Cricket. Some of the animations look nice, but then some look atrocious in Ashes Cricket, and I'm seeing the same issues here so...

    Guys the video is fake, the footage is of the iOS game which is nothing like the Xbox and PS4 game

      No it's not. The full video is linked above, and you can see the menu screens (which are completely different to the iOS/Android version, which I have on my phone), character creator, and range of stats/options that the mobile port doesn't have.

    Haha Can't believe you guys are covering this - you know there's a 5gb patch. the game itself is only 5Gb... The patch is basically the actual game to be released - anything else you've seen is beta... We'll see tomorrow anyway. Just unfortunate you would cover an Aussie game which has had some bad luck in marketing up to release date instead of giving it the chance you know it deserves, ie - post this tomorrow once the patch is in if its still rough!

      There's a note in the last paragraph about the patch:

      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.

        Lol I know and I did read that but it's a bit of a shitpost on an Aussie dev - just my opinion

        I'm still looking forward to it ;)

          So you are saying aussie devs should be given favoritism? There is always articles about games being released underdone and having ridiculous day one patches to fix broken games. Just because they are Australian doesn't mean they should be above that.

          Last edited 15/01/18 10:52 pm

          I don't see any reason why it should make a difference that the developer is Australian. If they're charging the same price for the game as everyone else then they should be held to the same standards.

          Other developers / publishers get blasted for releasing stuff unfinished and patching it afterwards. If these guys are doing the same then they'll probably get the same reaction.

            The point is - the devs at Big Ant Studios specifically asked for no gameplay to be released until this morning.

            They also gave some tips on starting out and how the game should be played, ie dont just jump into a hard match and give your review on that...

            The good people at Kotaku would have had the same Email from developers and this was a dirty move - it's obvious something got Big Ant on the back foot, whether that be with the licensee making demands or the studios but fact is - they're not a larger developer like EA or anyone so they can't just swing resource around if things get close to deadlines.

            This had to come out as a patch and thats fine in this day and age until people start talking about how hideous a game is when it's completely obvious the player knew nothing of how to play the game!

            It doesnt look even close to this bad so it's slanderous and I thought Kotaku had a bit more integrity than that. I wish this would stop being taken out of context but I knew and Alex knew this was being a little harsh on a dev that had a bad trot in recent weeks

              If this is what is on the disc somebody takes home from the shop, then this article is completely fair.

                Look each to their own - I personally dont mind day one patches because I understand that timelines get screwed up and I'd prefer they get cracking with certification etc and I get the full product on day one rather than pushing back the date.

                  Oh, I'd certainly rather they patch it than just drop it and walk away from it. But at the same time, I don't think it's unreasonable to assess a product based on what you get in the box when you pay your money.

                  While I agree I am also aware this was a street date broken, and someone who didnt know how to play the game, and thus, I called out kotaku for even covering it when they could have given it a couple of extra days and given it a bit more justice... But then we wouldnt have this colourful conversation where everyone attacks the one person with a more understanding approach to gaming ;)

                  All good I hope you get to check it out some time

      I can almost guarantee you that 5GB patch will not improve gameplay.

      I worked for Big Ant studios and with all due respect to Ross, everything they've produced feels like it came straight out of the 90s. They've got some really nice motion capture going on but the stitching together of animations all the way down to their AI has always been incredibly poor.

      While I couldn't pinpoint where they're going wrong, I'd strongly suggest its the tight deadlines and limited team size. To expect anything remotely AAA they'd be almost doubling the development time, assuming the resources they have left have the skills to do so.

        Tight deadlines is the main issue i would imagine - Teeing up a license with someone like Aus Open, I'm sure they were calling most of the shots. Is it just me, though, but I dont expect EA quality out of Big Ant. EA are a treat and have been for years but they're not going to make an AFL game or a cricket game are they!?
        Maybe I'm too old but I've always loved Big Ant because they give Australian Sports a representation in gaming that no one else ever has...

          EA did do AFL games back in the day - AFL 98 and 99! They were OK at the time (better than nothing, at least).

          They also did a series of cricket games in the 90's and 00's. Not sure if they were any good or not.

            I think i recall one in 2005 or something but never picked it up - Never knew about the AFL games tbh!!!

            Thing is they didnt keep those up for a reason and that comes down to audience size/business. Strange though in the modern cricket world you'd think they would want to capitalise on India's love for cricket!!!

              I don't know how big the games market is in India, though. For all I know, they may have their own cricket games made by their own developers that just never make it out of India...

                Lol good point but there were plenty interested in Ashes Cricket when i was streaming that!

    Mario Tennis Aces killed any sort of 'tennis exclusivity' this had for 2018, for me.

      Logged in just to upvote this. Can't wait for Mario Tennis. All we need now is Mario Golf, Baseball and Strikers and we'll have all the sports games we need on the Switch.

    This is probably why Ashes cricket is still "rough" this far down the road?

    You've got to be kidding scarnon. They are performing a valuable service for their readers by letting potential customers know about issues and problems with what is in all likelihood going to be a terrible game. You yourself say that THE ENTIRE TITLE is contained in a day one patch...this is far from an indicator of quality.

    I am asking this seriously, are you involved in the production or marketing of this title?

      No I am not involved in production of it - I will be reviewing it. What's that got to do with it?

      MY suggestion that if its 5Gb patch then its basically the whole game being redone isnt an indicator of any quality whatsoever. The way I see it is that it could be perceived that Big Ant had a very strict timeline to get this out to coincide with the Australian Open right?
      Those timelines aren't based on the build or quality but of project management getting the product out the door.
      In that, it could be quite possible that they have had to relesae a version they are not happy with to submit to Sony and Microsoft to have it approved in time to secure that release date.
      In that they have then worked through everything they could in the meantime getting the game to where they want it to be - But then even patches go through certification from Sony/Microsoft. So the day one patch has been SCHEDULED for day 1.
      There's a reason they aren't pushing out their own gameplay and I just think it's a bit dirty to be publicising a random stream from a guy who got an unfinished copy when Big Ant have clearly stated so.
      The reason I said anything is out of mad respect for Aussie Devs and them bringing us games no other development company would touch on. They may not be perfect but they do a bloody good job of it

        It's the version of the game the developer felt comfortable having burned onto blu-ray discs. So that's the same version of the game you'd see if you bought it on release day and played it on a console not connected to the Internet.

        If it is unfinished, that's down to the developer/publisher.

          You speak as if the developer and publisher are the same people...

            They are the same company in this case, no?

            But even when developer and publisher are separate, the developer can't shirk all responsibility. They agreed to the original schedule for the game, and would presumably inform the publisher of the state of the game as they get towards the time when the discs will be pressed.

    The "support Aussie devs because they are Aussies" is the same sort of parochial mentality that leads a host of rubbish Australian films getting great local reviews beause "we have to support local artists".

    Somebody bought a copy of the game from a retail store and it looks like hot garbage. If they fix it with a megapatch then by all means reviews should be updated to reflect that, but the idea that a copy bought at retail is just a "beta" and its unfair to say anything bad, because 'straya, is ridiculous.


      Supporting shitty devs just because they are aussie harms our local industry. It does not improve it.

      It would be like supporting an aussie milk producer that makes milk that makes people sick just because they are aussie.

    I was a bit worried about this already with how little they were showing so close to release but still trying to stay positive because I really want a good new Tennis game... Looks about what I was expecting :(

      Don't take this as it is - I played it for hours last night and had immense fun!

      First Impressions after PLAYING it here:

      And this includes the day one patch

        No videos were found.

        Yeah nice one. The link you were trying to post is

        I clicked through your video, first click landed on 9:40. Sure, their mocap is OK but as I said above, the stitching together of these animations is dogshit. Forehand that magically goes 45 degrees to the right? Yeah no. That's not worthy of the AAA price their publisher is trying to push on the public.

          Oh shit i put the edit link up there... what an idiot - thanks mate.

          I think the give and take between a game and a beautiful looking simulator is the issue there. I do agree it looks pretty shitty but if you cant do that movement, you're going to have a real tough time returning the ball because you'd have to be in exactly the right spot for every shot. This allows for some player error which there is going to be.

          As I addressed to Alex below, this is where I saw little issues the longer I played because you get to understand the depth of field a little better, and the timing of your shots so you dont end up right on top of it playing a weird shot

          The other thing I did read straight from them is that they are building on this through the year. I'll cover it in my review but it's a little bit of a Destiny strategy where it would appear they're updating with extra features once the US and Europe release date is live... I see that as a more concerning issue than just what the game looks like on an early stream imo...

    One of my friends has been working on the player models for this game. It’s a shame when you want to be excited for a friend only to see his work dragged through the mud by a site that keeps telling us to support local developers.

      Well said - But be careful speaking out about that you'll get hunted with pitchforks!

      Spent last night playing - its a great fucking game!

      If this exact same game was being released by a US or European developer with nobody you know working on it, would you be as supportive of it?

        If it's a smaller developer then yes absolutely and I always am supportive of devs. I don't know anyone at Big Ant but I have been following this fiasco for the last week or so on twitter and they have been copping it unfairly!

        Someone has to speak the voice of reason! After playing for hours last night I am extremely disappointed this slanderous piece came out for them bringing more attention to the gameplay that was leaked last week - that's not helping anyone... It felt and played great lol

          So your support is based on the size of the development team?

          Hey mate, I'm a 1 man developer and I made a game. Would you please pay $99.95 to enjoy the menu system I created? There's no actual gameplay but because I'm only one person and I'm Aussie, surely I'll get your support right?

            That's a pretty extreme analogy but I dealt with a 1 man developer from Europe a while ago, Nick Pettit, and he was awesome! The work he was able to do was insane and I enjoyed every part of it. I would blindly support him again on his endeavours yes.

        If it was the same game being released by a US or EU developer you wouldn't see an article on these types of things, ripping it apart for the smallest flaw. So I wouldn't need to be supporting of it as I wouldn't be commenting about it cause there would be no article.

      So we should be biased and support anything aussie devs produce even if its utter crap (Not saying this is) because straya?

      Do you know how retarded that logic is? You dont foster an industry by supporting anything and everything due to misplaced national pride. You do it by supporting good devs.

    What platform(s) is this being released on? I assume PS4/XBO.
    It looks fairly decent from up far, but those up close shots look god awful.

    Agree with others just because this is an Aussie developer doesn't mean we cant expect a bit of quality. Big Ant must of made a decent profit from DBC and Ashes that they could afford to make the game better, I'll still be picking this up as I'm an avid tennis fan and there is nothing else on XB1 at the moment, hopefully patches can improve a lot of things.

      It's not about not expecting quality it's the fact Big Ant were very clear about their embargo and this was an unfair leak last week from someone who obviously has no idea how to play the game!

      It doesnt look this bad at all lmao - you'll at least be impressed when you get it. Takes a bit to get the timing down but all in all it feels much smoother than any top spin game for sure!

        There's far too much to reply to in one hit, but as someone who's trying to critically review this same game, I'm a bit wary of anyone who advocates that hardly for a product.

        We serve readers first, not publishers, developers or the people in between. Readers (and all gamers) deserve to know what a product looks (and I mean that outside of a purely visual term) like before purchase.

        Saying someone unfairly leaked a game when they bought it from a store, patched it (to 1.03 - check the bloke's Twitter) and played it like anyone else is detached from reality.

        Someone paid money for this, and the quality of what they received is fair game - and something everyone deserves to see. Also, what I pointed out wasn't issues with the graphics specifically but the AI and animations. The fact that you've skipped over that repeatedly, but then brought up unrelated tips about how to play - not relevant to the points that I made - makes me question how much of a dog you have in this fight, so to speak.

          The thing with the animations is once you start to get more fluid they kind of fit right? Animations seemed clunky in my first hour but after a while pre empting the shots, and loading up a bit more on my returns, I didnt notice the issues with animations nearly as much!

          I'm not trying to have a dog in any fight, Alex, I think it was an unfair representation of where you likely know where this game was at at the time of publishing. I don't understand why there's so much hate on me for saying - Hey! Give em a fair go! I kinda thought we loved Aussie devs around here but I guess we'd prefer to go and bring out the first sensationalist thing they can find instead of solid, informative information. You've played right? I bet you look nowhere near as bad as the footage you showed haha

          Patch 1.04 came out last night and that fixed some more of the issues up... Not sure how many more because i haven't checked patch notes but it felt fine. I was just excited to play a tennis game!

          I appreciate the response Alex, and the reason I didn't touch on the points you made is because I don't necessarily disagree with them I simply disagreed with the way this was put out there... I wasn't talking to your points so starting to get onto me about not being relevant etc is not at all necessary.

          Didn't you just watch footage of someone else playing the game on twitch? (genuine question, no snark intended - I wasn't sure from the text of the article). If so that hardly counts as a critical review.

          But either way, I would have thought that reviewing the version that people will actually get would be the best course of action. Not reviewing the version that was only available at one specific store in Australia, by mistake, for a single week prior to the release of a large day one patch. If the day one patch fixes things (which is a big if admittedly) then this article is kind of misleading.

          Also, whilst I'm not advocating for some kind of parochial 'straya first' attitude, given the impact that reviews can have on the success or failure of a game created by a small developer, I feel like you should have taken more care in presenting this information (I doubt you would like people judging your writing based on a leaked, week old draft of an article for instance). How hard would it have been to wait a single day and review the actual release version.

            I didn't write a review, and never said that I was, so I don't think that applies here. And what you said applies: until late last night this was the only footage of the game available, footage that came from a patched (to 1.03) version of the game, that someone bought off the shelf.

            It's completely fair to show people what they can expect. It'd be nice if the streamer had higher streaming settings, but Australian internet blows (although readers here are very savvy when it comes to seeing lower-quality footage and understanding the difference between that and direct gameplay).

            Well said and thanks for articulating something I obviously could not earlier! I didn't expect the backlash thought it was only fair to call out what i was seeing. Codes went out yesterday I'm sure they had a review copy and yes - could have given it the due diligence to wait the day until embargo was up this morning. Thats ALL I was saying lol

              Played this today. Article author was right on the money.

              Scarnon's standards must be terribly low as it was complete garbage.

    Get stuck into em walker! Bigant are poop.

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