TopSpin 2K25 preview: One for Hawk-Eye

TopSpin 2K25 preview: One for Hawk-Eye
Images via 2K

Written by 

Morgan Truder

Published 

12th Mar 2024 12:00

Sports games are often iterative. Even looking at the suite of games with 2K already in the title, most are released yearly with minor tweaks and improvements year-on-year. Yet, it’s been a long time since a TopSpin game has hit the shelves and I've been fortunate enough to go hands-on with TopSpin 2K25 ahead of its April release.

For many tennis fans, there has been a large gaping hole in the gaming landscape where TopSpin should be. Many felt TopSpin 4 was the pinnacle of tennis games, making the series’ prolonged absence even more noticeable - it’s been so long that this year's cover star, Carlos Alcaraz, was only eight last time we had a new entry released. It means we're witnessing something very unique for a sports video game having not been released annually, instead trying to recapture what made this series so popular in the first place.

A helping hand

Frances Tiago in TopSpin 2K25
Click to enlarge

During the preview, I had the opportunity to play exhibition matches with a limited roster as well as try out the basic training modes with John McEnroe. The tutorial was certainly thorough and effective at getting me up to speed before diving into a proper match. Plenty of 2K games boast good tutorials, but the one in TopSpin 2K25 may be the most important one yet due to the gap between games. Fortunately, it’s incredibly effective - and you can’t go wrong with McEnroe in your ears coaching you through it.

Once I felt confident enough with the basics, it was time to jump into an exhibition match. I mainly used Serena Williams and it was noticeable just how powerful she felt when compared to the other pros. Every hit felt like a rocket being launched, and this was only supported by the PlayStyles that have been introduced this time around.

On top of that, the way the different athletes move is genuinely noticeable, as all the pros in TopSpin 2K25 have been replicated with an attempt to capture their individuality from how they play or move on the court - and from what I’ve seen so far, 2K has hit the nail on the head.

It’s a wildcard

Serena Williams in TopSpin 2K25
Click to enlarge

When you could tell the difference was when switching from one pro to another, and going from someone like Serena Williams to Carlos Alcaraz showcases just how unique each felt. It would even take a slight moment of adjustment to get used to the different strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, before going into a match, there's a stats menu to see what each player excels in and their PlayStyles. It'll be interesting to see if there's as much variation across the 24 playable pros or if it’s more noticeable with a select few.

Not only was there a distinct and noticeable difference depending on who you’re playing as, but the individual courts also felt distinct. Depending on the location there would be a different intro to the match, showing the player walking down the hall, preparing for the game before going out in front of the fans.

Each type of court looks great and the unique sounds when you scramble for a ball are satisfying, whilst the skids staying on the court feel like a reminder of previous shots and achievements of the match. Aesthetically, this is exactly how authentic you'd expect a sports game to look in 2024, although there are some slight issues with different textures clipping and popping in a bit late during the intro sequences - things I am hoping will be corrected by the time of full release.

Game, Set, Match

Iga Świątek in TopSpin 2K25
Click to enlarge

As my confidence grew, and I’d shown the computer who was the boss (on the third difficulty of seven) it was time to try my hand at facing another player. Admittedly, I got battered, but even in that brief time, it demonstrated how the controls can be built on and developed to take things up a notch.

They're relatively basic, but once all the different kinds of shots are layered on top of managing my position and serving, it felt like it would take a long time to master. It was easy to get to a point where I could have fun, but there’s no doubt just how much scope is on offer for players to become amazing. Fortunately, on release, it'll be a relatively even playing field.

I also got to see - but not play - MyPlayer mode, which will allow players to build their pro using character customisation and shape them into their idea of a professional tennis player. During this brief demonstration, I got to see some of the options on offer, as well as the authentic sponsorship in the game.

I know it’s not the most important thing in the world, but I'm a sucker for as much realism as possible, so having the appropriate licenses and merchandise included helps add a layer of realism. Outside of that, not too much was shown regarding MyCareer and the other game modes on offer - this is where it will be interesting.

Most sports games now have modes to keep you hooked and coming back, so I'll be intrigued to see if TopSpin has 2K25 as a hook to provide longevity.

Final Thoughts 

Going into TopSpin 2K25, I was unsure what to expect. From a gameplay perspective, though, 2K has done a fantastic job of creating a tennis game that feels as close to the real thing as you’ll get - whilst also implementing an enjoyable and satisfying gameplay loop.

Attempting to move players around the court, and opening up space to nab points while trying to perfectly time your shots can be overwhelming but so fulfilling when you pull it off.

As I've already said, whether or not this title will have sticking power in a crowded sports game market remains to be seen, but for now it looks like 2K is about to deliver another authentic, enjoyable, sports sim to add to their collection - and one that'll make tennis fans very happy.

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If you're looking for more previews of some of this year's biggest games we have already been hands-on with Rise of the Ronin and Dragon's Dogma 2, or if you just want to see what's on the horizon take a look at our release calendar

Morgan is one of the Guides Writers at GGRecon. He first started writing about games for fun whilst doing his BA (Hons) in History and Film. Since then he has turned this passion into a career and was previously an Editor at VideoGamer before joining GGRecon. Despite enjoying all sorts of games, he can often be found playing Football Manager, Red Dead Redemption 2 or Sekiro.

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