TopSpin 2K25

Xbox Series X/S, PS5/4, Xbox One, PC sport

2011 was the year that saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 as the biggest film release, Adele’s 21 the best-selling album, as well as Estonia adopt the Euro, Amy Winehouse die, and Prince William and Catherine Middleton get hitched.

It was also the year that saw the release of Top Spin 4 for the PS3, Wii and Xbox 360, and was the last entry in the franchise. Up until now.

It’s clear then, with its 14 year absence, that the tennis franchise hasn’t exactly been a priority for 2K, so has that changed with this latest release?

boom reviews TopSpin 2K25
I'm having a barbecue 'round mine later if you wanna come?

To begin with, they have at least put some thought into the game’s playing mechanic, which may well take getting used to. It’s no longer enough to just hit a button when you want to return a ball, with a peculiar gauge system now in place. It appears to be connected to timing somehow, although never really explained. As far as we can tell, the gauge moves quicker or slower depending on the speed the ball comes at you at. So if the ball is sliced, for example, the pace is taken off of it, giving you a little more time to react to it. You can just hit the button and return it, but if you manage to hit it as the needle hits a fairly small green section of the gauge, it will be deemed a perfect shot. However, just because it’s perfect, doesn’t necessarily make it a winning shot, far from it.

If you get close to the green space, you may also get a ‘good’ response, otherwise it will be a negative response of some kind. Thankfully there is an academy for you to get the hang of it, run by none other than John McEnroe, for you to get to grips with the system. But on top of that, there’s also training, and a lot of it, but more of that later.

So the main event of the game is its story mode, which sees you create a player to rise up through the ranks, playing through smaller tournaments until you’re ready for the big time and the Grand Slams. But be prepared, because it is quite the grind – like RPG grind.

Every month sees you facing training, a special event and a tournament, with all of them skippable if need be. Unfortunately training is, essential at first, as well as being fairly rewarding – unlike the paltry winnings of the tournament. But they soon become monotonous, and later on into the gold and platinum tiers, pretty tricky and unforgiving. Which wouldn’t necessarily be an issue, as we said, it can be skipped, but unfortunately it’s also tied to objectives in levelling up, which you will need to do if you’re to get to the Grand Slams. So you will be forced to train if you intend to progress through the game, whether you want to or not.

Every time you do level up, you are given 6 points that you can use to develop aspects of your play, like serving, power, forehand, backhand etc. This is a very slow process so you won’t be topping out any of these categories any time soon. But when you get the knack of the playing mechanic, it won’t be too much of an issue, as you will still be able to beat players higher ranked than yourself.

On top of that, coaches can be hired, but we didn’t really feel any benefit from having them, so just ignored them for the best part. You can also hire other members of staff, to look after things like medical, travel, energy and merchandise, but again, didn’t notice any real benefit from hiring them.

boom reviews - TopSpin 2K25
Could you hold on a sec? My self tying shoes are having an issue.
In fact you aren’t even told when their contracts have expired, which just goes to show how ineffectual they are, as you don’t even notice when they’re gone.

But what’s it like out on court? Well, overall, the gameplay is solid enough, even if the overall presentation is lacking. For instance, the same cut scenes are used for every tournament you play, with the same woman handing you the same trophy with the same audience response. This means you don’t even get to savour a win, because you’ve seen it all before, and quickly press a button to get out of the cut scenes.

Some of the opponents lack fluidity in their animation too, with many offering some kind of demented shuffle on the base line when attempting to chase a ball down.

There is also no commentary of any kind, making for a fairly soulless experience.

In its favour however are the ball sounds, which impress, as well as controller feedback, especially on clay as your player slides to hit a ball.

But the deeper you get into the game, the more noticeable its issues become. At a certain point, when the controls click, you will find that rhythm and win, not just the game, and set, but every point. To be fair, we have only played on normal, but at level 29 and reaching number one in both rankings, we haven’t faced much in the way of opposition. It’s not helped by the fact that you face the same players over and over; despite the game showing clips of playing a wide variety of players, in every major tournament, the only top player we have encountered is Russian player Daniil Medvedev. And we have beaten him, every single time, in straight sets to love.

Of course everyone loves that winning feeling, but when you reach a Grand Slam final, you expect somewhat of a challenge, even on normal.

The game also suffers in one other area too, in that it has a court pass. Yes, 2K want to suck all those micro-transactions out of you on useless cosmetic items, which somewhat remarkably, rackets fall into that category. It seems long gone are the days when buying a game at full price, you can expect to have every aspect of it open to you without having to dip further into your pocket.

This also ties into the issue of the in game currency. Nothing in the pro shop is worth buying, except one thing – XP bonus points. You can buy points that can increase your experience level – per single game – by up to 25%. This is vital if you want to attempt to speed track your levelling up experience, albeit in the slowest manner possible.

But of course, despite winning Grand Slams, your winnings are pitiful, with the game hoping you’ll just top it up using real currency. So if you’re like us, it means we’ll overlook the likes of staff members, in order to just focus building up our experience level.

The game also includes emails from various people – who knows, after a while, we just ignored them – as well as truly shaking up the tennis world with...podcasts, sigh.

Overall Top Spin 2K25 is a frustrating experience, because the basic gaming mechanic works really well, and doesn’t take long to become really intuitive. It’s just a shame that everything else around doesn’t match the same level of quality. If you’re going to implement things such as health trainers and merchandise, then have it so it feels like you get some real benefit from paying out for them. And really, a ‘battle’ pass doesn’t belong in a tennis game, and 2K should be embarrassed for implementing it .

On the one hand, with tennis games no longer getting the kind of yearly updates that FIFA and Madden get, tennis fans are probably just thankful to get a new one. But despite decent gameplay, all the frivolous ‘extras’, just get in the way, and make it all unnecessarily complicated in places.

Top Spin 2K25 is oozing potential, but its overall structure and style, especially with the inclusion of a court pass, makes it feel like a really good opportunity missed. And considering it’s been 14 years since the last one, they really could have served up something better.

we give this three out of five