TopSpin 2K25 review: The most exciting tennis since Pong

TopSpin 2K25 review: The most exciting tennis since Pong
Images via 2K

Written by 

Joshua Boyles

Published 

26th Apr 2024 15:06

A lot has changed since I last picked up a TopSpin game, which was in 2006 if you were wondering. TopSpin 2 on the Nintendo DS might look positively ancient by 2024’s standards, but TopSpin 2K25 has done a fabulous job of resurrecting this almost-dead franchise and bringing it back into the limelight for the masses.

Over thirteen years since the last entry, TopSpin 2K25 has managed to bring the series back to glorious heights. With tight, gripping gameplay and plenty of ways to spice up your routine, this latest entry had me picking up the racquet with curiosity and left me never wanting to put it down.

GGRecon Verdict

After a few stumbling blocks in the beginning, I quickly fell in love with how the basic game of Tennis feels to play in TopSpin 2K25. There’s a steep learning curve to the gameplay, but the more I practised and honed my skills, the more I could feel the hours slipping away as I developed unhealthy rivalries with my virtual opponents.

It would have been great to see some sort of career mode implemented where you can take control of real-world players, but for a revival from the dead, TopSpin 2K25 is pretty TopNotch.

Stumbling blocks

TopSpin 2K25 key art
Click to enlarge

While the overall package of TopSpin 2K25 is generally fantastic, it doesn’t put its best foot forward, as the opening few minutes have you fumbling through an extremely clumsy and frustrating match between Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Playing as these two rivals going head to head should, in theory, be an exciting endeavour to get you hooked on TopSpin’s core gameplay mechanics. However, the game throws you in at the deep end with no tutorials or even an indication of what the controls do, which you’ll come to learn are incredibly intricate. I didn’t realise until I reached the training menu 15 minutes later that you don’t need to hold down the button to hit the ball, and that the same stick to move is also used to direct shots.

Thankfully, once you break through to the meat of the game and begin to understand its mechanics, it’s not long before it sinks its teeth deep.

Getting into the swing of things

My character in TopSpin 2k25 MyCAREER mode
Click to enlarge

Spending an hour in the training systems of TopSpin 2K25 does a world of good, and it doesn’t take long before you’re able to get into the swing of things. Face buttons perform different types of racket swings each of which serves a specific purpose on the court. Want to beam a power shot over into the far corner? That takes a specific input, and a perfectly timed shot to pull off - otherwise you risk hitting a foul..

When the ball approaches, a small bar appears above your player, indicating when the best time is to release the swing. The timing window here is particularly brutal, and it takes real concentration to get the hang of it. The training drills are especially useful, teaching you how to properly control both the player and the ball. 

You’ll need some diligent patience to get this timing window down, as it changes depending on how fast the ball is approaching you. It often caused me plenty of frustration, but as you start to rack up a lengthy match record, you begin to get a feel for how the timing windows work and it all starts to feel a bit more fair.

A few hours in, and you really start to get a knack for TopSpin. Once you understand when to use a particular shot, and how to best play your opponent by tiring them out with long rallies, you start to feel yourself get locked in - as if you’re watching a real-life match. The feeling when you manage to grand slam a shot perfectly into the back corner as you watch your opponent stumble across Centre Court is unrivalled, and I ended up letting out several shrieks of enjoyment after taking victory over long rallies.

Nap time

TopSpin 2K25 MyCAREER mode
Click to enlarge

In terms of gameplay modes, the star of the show is MyPLAYER, which sees you create a character and play your way to the top of the leaderboards. Taking on training exercises and challenges, and taking part in knock-out tournaments becomes an enjoyable gameplay loop. Despite the gameplay that revolves around the same basic mechanics, you always feel as though you’re working towards a new goal. 

MyPLAYER also asks you to consider your player's current rested state, as well as manage your current trainer. This is something you’ll need to keep an eye on, as taking part in too many events can lead to you losing matches - or even injury. I ended up falling for my own ambition in this regard when I started to wonder why my player was so out of breath all the time, only to realise his rest levels were at 13%.

If you’re after something a bit more chill, you can set up custom matches, play online, or even couch co-op if you have a second controller. Everything here works as you’d expect, with the frankly excellent tennis mechanics translating perfectly to both doubles and 1v1 matches.

Ultimately, that’s the best thing about TopSpin 2K25 - it nails the Tennis. Whacking that ball back and forth over the net and nailing those perfect hits quickly becomes intoxicating, as does managing your position on the court against your opponent's energy bar.

It’s aided by some excellent audio and visual design, with perfect timings accompanied by an unbelievably satisfying ‘thwock’ through the DualSense speakers. The same can’t quite be said for the choice of grunts that also play through the controller speaker. While I had a good laugh hearing them to begin, they quickly became repetitive, distracting, and frankly irritating for anyone else you might live with. Thankfully, they can be toned down or turned off entirely in the settings.

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The Verdict

After a few stumbling blocks in the beginning, I quickly fell in love with how the basic game of Tennis feels to play in TopSpin 2K25. There’s a steep learning curve to the gameplay, but the more I practised and honed my skills, the more I could feel the hours slipping away as I developed unhealthy rivalries with my virtual opponents.

It would have been great to see some sort of career mode implemented where you can take control of real-world players, but for a revival from the dead, TopSpin 2K25 is pretty TopNotch.

4/5

Reviewed on PlayStation 5. Review code provided by the publisher.

Joshua Boyles
About the author
Joshua Boyles
Joshua is the Guides Editor at GGRecon. After graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in Broadcast Journalism, he previously wrote for publications such as FragHero and GameByte. You can often find him diving deep into fantasy RPGs such as Skyrim and The Witcher, or tearing it up in Call of Duty and Battlefield. He's also often spotted hiking in the wilderness, usually blasting Arctic Monkeys.
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