Published on April 22nd, 2024 | by Paul Stuart

Top Spin 2K25 Review (PS5)

Top Spin 2K25 Review (PS5) Paul Stuart

Summary: The best tennis game to date and frontrunner for top sport game of 2024, Top Spin 2K25 is a magnificent tennis simulation.


A Glorious Return Serve

If it feels as if it’s been ages – almost a decade and a half, to be precise – since a decent tennis simulation, you’re not mistaken. Big Ant’s attempts at capturing the sport in AO Tennis were underwhelming, and sadly Virtua Tennis never made a proper re-appearance. (Mobile doesn’t count for the latter.)

Thus and needless to say, Top Spin 2K25 caught most tennis gaming fans by surprise, specifically a heavy investment by mega publisher 2K to bring a somewhat niche sport back to the masses on modern consoles after a long hiatus. (As a reference point, Top Spin 4 was a well received title back in 2011.) And boy, did they not disappoint.

Thankfully, developer Hangar 13 – known for its Mafia series – captured the essence of the Top Spin series and then some. Top Spin 2K25 looks and feels like Top Spin, most importantly plays like it as well.

There is just so much right with this game. To begin, player rosters are exceptional, a wonderful mix of modern and legendary male and female players. They look and play exactly like real-life counterparts, and the ability to play cross-gender matches is terrific. Who doesn’t want the power of Serena against the backhand of Agassi?!

Created player customizations are happily not a virtual currency path to doom, easily unlocked by tackling Career mode and grinding through matches, challenges, and skill tests. Like previous Top Spin titles, expect a lot of losses plus trial and error early on, as low level created players will struggle with precision and power in career infancy. Even during these struggles, nicely done on recommending skill upgrades based on play style, a simple but welcome wrinkle versus creating a vanilla prototype who is great at nothing.

Stadiums are visually jaw dropping, precise in every shape and form. Subtle touches like architecture edges, shadows in appropriate places, announcer language and accent based on region, and associated echo from all involved are brilliant. As one would expect, play surfaces are matched to stadium, the gorgeous grass of Wimbledon, the adventurous clay of Roland Garros, the fast hard court of Arthur Ashe. Top Spin 2K5 likewise sounds like a dream with every grunt, announcer scream, ball bounce, and racket contact. Soundtrack is stellar, in tandem.

New to Top Spin 2K25 is an accuracy and power meter, one which significantly raises realism but also level of difficulty. This introduces advanced control and power nuance, with highest emphasis on footwork and timing of ball strikes to include upward bounce. On-the-fly stance change prior to hit (from forehand to backhand) is also ridiculously cool, albeit complicated once factoring in all the steps required to maximize it. Make a wrong movement and pay dearly. In contrast, chain together the perfect footwork, stance, attack time and shot selection, and magic occurs.

Thankfully, the excellent but very challenging tutorial hosted by John McEnroe is up to the task. Expect a lot of time and effort to master any of Top Spin 2K25’s advanced techniques, some requiring several dozen attempts before it all clicks. Yes, you can play Top Spin 2K25 on easy difficulty and skip so much of the game’s realism. But doing so will significantly reduce appreciation of how realistic and playable this fantastic tennis simulation truly is. Even on easiest difficulty, bad positioning will be severely punished by CPU opponents.

Perhaps the greatest allure of Top Spin 2K25 – much like EA’s UFC series – is investment in getting better will exponentially open up so much more of what the game has to offer. Maximizing specific shot techniques, court surfaces, and play styles only gets better in execution as one improves acumen. Similarly, Top Spin 2K25 does not make unstoppable pro players, as their strengths present but also their weaknesses. Therefore and mirroring UFC, Top Spin 2k25 is arguably not a title for tennis newbies.

Like many 2K titles, online is alive and well…albeit not a community at present prior to launch. Cross-play is also surprisingly here, a very welcome addition on a niche title. Higher end versions of Top Spin (of which I was fortunate to review) feature epic gear, but none have any tangible impact on performance (so pay-to-play is cosmetic only). And yes, there’s a robust player creation tool down to making your favorite lad or lass grunt happy.

If there’s a criticism to be had, some fine tuning is needed on the accuracy and power meter to create better racket and ball feel. Control shots, as an example, are executed by a quick button press, as less racket time and power should equate to more precision. How this executed, however, doesn’t necessarily feel more controlled. The same can be said for the power meter, which ends up in the late category too often yet rewards on holding down to generate maximum power. Perhaps some more vibration feedback would help create better literal feel alongside some subtle extended timing windows.

Final Thoughts
Top Spin 2K25 is perhaps the best 2024 sport title thus far, a very welcome surprise from a developer and publisher most didn’t see coming. Its wonderful appreciation of the Top Spin legacy and highest attention to detail make this the best tennis simulation to date. Warning: arcade-oriented players and those new to tennis games may not be as enthusiastic. It’s still very playable, but you’d be missing the finer points.

About the Author'

A gamer for over 30 years, Paul Stuart has an unhealthy obsession with Assassins Creed, God of War, also sport and virtual reality titles. In his spare time, he teaches Muay Thai kickboxing, runs, and drives his toddler crazy.

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