STAFF REVIEW of AO International Tennis (Xbox One)


Wednesday, May 30, 2018.
by Kirsten Naughton

AO International Tennis Box art Brought to you by Big Ant Studios, AO International Tennis has arrived! For those hardcore tennis fans, or those who are new to the sport, AO International Tennis is a somewhat perfect match for those looking for a challenge and those looking to learn about the game. Add to that the fact that it is the only current tennis game on consoles at this time, and you have a recipe for a game that can attract some attention.

As a gamer and in real life, calling me a beginner at tennis is an understatement. In fact, before this review, I knew very little about tennis until I played this game. I began where many beginners should start, in the tutorials. Here you will have the opportunity to learn the different types of shots and how to aim them properly. Now, there are six types of shots: flat, top spin, slice, smashes, lob and drop, though by far, my favourite shot is smash. You'll also learn serves, free serves and challenging decisions. I found being able to challenge decisions was a really cool feature of this game.

If you're brand new at tennis, virtual or not, and the only thing you know about the game is that the two players take turns at hitting a ball with a racquet, you're not alone! The tutorial teaches you how to properly perform the shot and how to properly aim in the provided spots. If you're a beginner like me, my best friend was about a foot away from me when he was watching me do the tutorial. He and I were laughing so hard because during the tutorial I was really, really bad. That's okay. You'll get better, you'll get your rhythm and you'll be the next Rafael Nadal in no time.

If you're an expert at tennis, the tutorial is there if you need a refresher. Maybe you haven't played the game before on a console, maybe you just want to see how the shots work, or maybe you just want to do it for fun. Whatever your reason, the tutorial gives you the basics of the game. I was very surprised with the time taken developing the tutorial. I mean, I've played some sports games where they give you no tutorial at all. So, this was a much appreciated addition to their selection of modes.


There are a number of modes you can play; Australian Open, Career, Casual and Online. Along with that, you also have the option to create your own player in the Academy mode. I found it really neat to be able to create your own player. The one thing that completely blew me away was that this was not your typical 'Create a Player' mode. This 'Create a Player' experience has to be one of the better ones in my opinion. The only way I can describe this experience is comparing it to Elder Scrolls 'Create a Player' but better. You get to pick every little thing about your character's body, face, legs, the works. Also, you get to set your own attributes as a player, which I found to be one of the best parts of the game.

The difficulty level is all up to you. For me personally, aiming the ball in the right area took a while to learn. If we're being honest, I feel that's the hardest thing to master and it was easy for me to forget the ball isn't auto set to aim in a certain place. I also realized at that point that I'm the reason why the ball went out of bounds 100% of the time. But irregardless, it's something that can be easily managed if you keep playing and practicing.

The graphics during gameplay, and even sitting idle on the start menu, are fairly good. The player featured on the first screen you see is animated and moves their head a little. That was a nice touch in my opinion. The courts look fairly realistic too, and they range in size, shape and of course location. The sound I found to be minimal, as inn the main menu the music can be upbeat and nice to listen to. In the tutorial, and in-game, you don't get much sound. That is purely your decision whether you don't like much sound or you'd rather have background music. It definitely wasn't a bother to me because I was more focused on the game.

Career mode starts off with a bunch of settings that you must go through and set for your career, afterwards you are ready to begin. This mode can be played from the point of view of a new or star player. You will gain experience through playing matches, leveling up after gaining enough experience and growing your attributes. After picking a star or a new player, you have to pick a sponsor from one of four. All four sponsors vary per contract. Some want money per match, some want money upfront, and some give you a bonus for winning, all just like a real sports contract. The sponsors may also want a cut of your victories. I will mention here though, if you choose a brand new player, you will have to create one right then and there as you cannot choose one you've already created.


After you create your character, you then have to pick your support team. They range in cost from zero to three million dollars. When making this decision, ensure you are keeping an eye on the stars below the support team name. Training, injury/fatigue recovery, and form/confidence. The more stars a team has in a category, the more effective they are at the aspect. Just a heads up, whether you go the new player or star player route, the process will be the same except for star players cannot be customized in career mode. Before going into a match, you can choose to change your character's outfit.

In the Australian Open mode, you have the option to choose from men or women's singles, men or women's doubles or mixed doubles. Next, you get to choose your character. Here you won't have the option of selecting a new player as there are only star players to choose from. After you select your player you will be taken to the tournament chart consisting of first, second, third, fourth round, quarter finals, semi-finals and final. Competition mode is the exact same layout of Australian Open, but with the options available at the beginning only being between singles or doubles. You also get to pick how many players get to play in the competition and what trophy the winner gets at the end.

In any playable mode, it's fairly simple. Using the shots you were taught in the tutorial, you go through a match with your character. Depending on how you set your matches, they will all follow the guidelines throughout the career mode. You will also toss a coin to see which player gets the receive first. If you happen to miscalculate your aim and the ball lands outside the court, it's out of course, but if the referee calls it out and it is in fact in bounds, you can challenge their decision. Each match goes up to 40 points and the set is complete.


Casual mode can be described as a 'Quick Play' in any sports game. It's essentially a mode you can play whenever you want. I would advise before you try your luck in Australian Open, Career and Competition, that you spend some time in Casual.

One final point I'd like to mention before I wrap things up, is I really enjoyed the player selection. Again, I'm not familiar with all two hundred plus players in this game, but I found it awesome that the developers made the character selection so versatile. Have you ever played a game where you could only choose from a few characters? It's not as fun in my opinion, but with AO International Tennis, you could play for hours choosing every single star player in the roster!

While playing AO International Tennis, I found everything from the tutorial to the actual in-game experience to be pretty good. Sure, I wasn't the greatest at becoming the next Rafael Nadal, but the experience was something I enjoyed as I played. That being said, fans may find some control issue here and there, as I did find that some of my shots didn't go where I aimed, and that reaction time was off now and then. Regardless, I have never been one to pick a sports game as my game of choice, let alone tennis, but you may want to consider this one, especially if you are craving some tennis on your Xbox One. Sorry, I have to go, it's my turn to serve. You're going down Angelique Kerber!




Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10

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