2018 seems to be the year that gamers are finally getting new tennis games to play with. Earlier this year we got AO Tennis on PS4 and Xbox One and later this year Tennis World Tour is coming out on the same platforms.
As for PC owners, Steam is soon going to release a new Tennis game called 'Full Ace Tennis Simulator'. Unlike other tennis video games, this new title tries its best to be as realistic as possible making it have a very steep learning curve.
In the past, I have usually been able to master most tennis games on their highest difficulty setting. I can safely say I'm an expert in games like Top Spin 4, AO Tennis and the Virtua Tennis series.
That being said, I've been playing Full Ace Tennis Simulator for over a week now and I'm still getting into grips with the game's physics engine and controls. In my humble opinion, this is the HARDEST tennis video game I have ever played in my life.
Thankfully unlike AO tennis, this new tennis game features both a comprehensive tutorial and a practice mode to ease you into the gameplay. However even by practising for hours, playing the A.I. is still very hard even on an easier difficulty setting!
The main reason this game is difficult is because it's one of the only tennis games I have played that has a stronger emphasis on footwork and body positions. In other tennis games, all you need to do is run to the ball and your player can easily hit it.
In Full Ace Tennis Simulator, you're forced to place your feet just a couple of inches before you approach the ball so you can whack the ball to either the left or right side of the body. If you don't position yourself correctly, you get cramped up and the ball either hits your body or your shot is weak and useless.
Most other tennis games kindly position so you don't have to approach the ball so precisely, but here you have to keep an eye on the ball very carefully at all times. You have to not only track the trajectory of the ball, but anticipate the height of the bounce and where it is going to land on the court as well.
It takes a lot of practice, but playing with a controller helps a lot. I initially played the game with a keyboard only and I was very bad at the game. I improved a little bit more when I found an old PC controller gamepad I had lying around that I forgot I owned.
Using a controller is probably essential because a keyboard only control scheme makes the game even harder to play. It's way easier with a controller to serve, hit forehands and backhands, drop shots, volleys and lobs.
In terms of animation, the game has some realistic looking motions although it still appears a bit stiff compared to say Top Spin 4. Some updates that I downloaded improved the animation a bit more, but there is still room for improvement with future patches.
Since Full Ace Tennis Simulator is made by an indie developer called 'Galactic Gaming Guild', don't expect to see a full AAA experience. The graphics are very simplistic for a PC game released in 2018 as even my old laptop was able to run this game smoothly on its highest setting.
Due to the low budget of the game, there aren't any licensed players in this game either. There are knock-off versions of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in this game hilariously renamed as 'David Laden' and 'Frederic Rougier' respectively.
In terms of game modes, there's quite a few available at launch. You can embark on a Career mode, Tournament mode, the aforementioned Practice and Editor modes plus an Editor where you can alter the character models. However, there's still some content missing.
I'm not giving a full review of this game yet, because it's still not 100% complete. The developer promises the game will eventually add more content in the future as female players and doubles matches weren't available at the time I played the game. Rest assured, those features and more will appear in future updates coming soon.
From what I have played so far, Full Ace Tennis Simulator is very challenging although fans of tennis games like myself should try the game out. I just hope 'Galactic Gaming Guild' can make the game easier to play in the future as the steep learning curve and physics engine make it hard for you to do lengthy rallies.