Available since October 20, On-Court Tennis is the very first Tennis game to land on the PlayStation VR 2, after a release on the Quest. The title is also developed by a Belgian developer called Fishing Cactus, which seems to be its first experience in VR. Indeed, the studio has already distinguished itself with rather pleasant non-VR titles like a certain Quantum Shift, which we greatly appreciated. This is a test of strength for developers, who still have to learn in the development of a VR game, even if On-Court Tennis remains a game of tennis akin to a guilty pleasure despite everything being attractive.
Test conditions: We played Tennis On-Court for 5 hours, which allowed us to test tournament, multiplayer and classic match modes against the AI. The game was played with both arcade and realistic mode gameplay. The title was tested on PlayStation VR 2.
The beginnings of a tennis player
First of all, know that On-Court Tennis will give you the opportunity to create your own tennis player. Indeed, apart from a few sponsors like Decathlon and Artengo, there will be no international players to play as. You will be able to generate your own avatar, and personalize it to your taste in terms of its face, its clothes or even its racket and its dominant hand. Overall, the Character customization is effective to say the least, although we were expecting something a little deeper.
Afterwards, the title of Fishing Cactus offers us somewhat light content here. First you will have the single-player mode where you can play the tutorial, solo against the AI, do training, or even complete a tournament. On the tutorial first, know that it will be devilishly difficult to complete, even though it is a feature to help us practice. The frustration is already mounting like its tournament mode, which will just give you 5 successions of matches over three games of sets only, in order to then access the same thing but with a higher difficulty. The disappointment is immense, especially since the solo against the AI is just there to make a single match (with the possibility this time of making a match in 5 or 3 complete sets), and that’s it…
It’s really too thin, like the multiplayer. In addition to the spectator mode which allows players to watch other players compete, you will have friendly, ranked matches and the ability to play 4v4. Multiplayer offers very good ideas on paper but where in practice, it is impossible to find any player at the moment. Suffice to say that the multi mode is nipped in the bud, and know that you can also complete the tournament mode in less than 3 hours if you do well. Let’s be clear, the content could have offered a much better offer, especially since we have a maximum of 4 or even 5 maps on the software if we quibble. That said, and even if the developers may not have had the licenses like Wimbledon or Roland-Garros, it is nice to see courses that come close.
Game, set and match
For gameplay, On-Court Tennis absolutely wants to reach all players. You will have two types of gameplay with arcade or realistic. The first does everything so that you can at least cross the opponent’s line by hitting the ball. This is a fairly simplified and accessible gameplay mode, offering realistic trajectories. This arcade mode is pleasant to play and super fun. The exchanges are pleasant and fluid, and the movements to make specific shots such as dropshots, lifts or even serves and slices are very enjoyable.
Although this arcade mode will be a big hit for new players, the realistic mode will be as disappointing as it is frustrating.. Even if the ball physics in both gameplay options are super credible and well calibrated, we have to admit that the realistic side will take into account the power and direction in which you hit the ball. And precisely, the exchanges will be a little less fluid here, and the ball will not always go in the right direction or at the right power, although we do our best to ensure that this is the case. This gives a little feeling of annoyance, and you will unfortunately quickly return to the arcade side, where the gaming pleasure will be instantaneous. By wanting to make such a simulation mode, the latter is not that well put together, to the point that you will curse the services, which pass one in four times.
However, on the positive side, the little guys from Fishing Cactus have managed the possibilities offered by the PSVR Sense well. It is in fact possible to move your character on your half of the field and make him run to catch the ball that seems unreachable, which allows more possibilities of returning the ball correctly. What’s more, our player automatically teleports as close as possible to the ball, in order to hit it with his own sauce. This idea is good, although the offensive or defensive options at the press of a single button don’t do much good. Because in practice, this only breaks the rhythm. On the other hand, we are forced to admit that the gameplay turns out to be a minimum of fun (in an arcade of course), and offers a little challenge, or almost.
Indeed in the negative points, the AI is also not calibrated properly. It may happen that it does not react correctly, or that it sometimes has fun blocking itself, or having some robotic animations which break the immersion. In addition, she is too lax when the ball is thrown at her against the foot, even though she can catch it and hit it easily. Clearly, a lack of refinement is felt on this point, and it would have been nice to have real players in the multiplayer mode afterwards…
A just visually correct grand slam
On the technical point, On-Court Tennis is just ok. With the power that the PlayStation VR 2 has, it must be said that we are quite disappointed with the rendering of the baby from Fishing Cactus. The 3D models are just passable, the audience is hideous (with audiences even modeled in laughable 2D sprites), and the animations are from another age. While the cutscenes of players entering from the stadium are clearly super immersive, the rest is clearly just right, showing that the budget may have been too low to deliver a decent graphics engine. We can say at least that on textures and optimization, On-Court Tennis barely catches up, which is already that. Especially since there is still a slow motion mode which is activated for each good action, which is worth emphasizing.
The soundtrack is also nameless nothingness. This would almost make us think of the first opus of Tennis World Tour but less worse, because we at least feel the audience exult at each beautiful action. This is at least a good thing, and note that the music is not legion, indicating that the budget must also be lacking.