The Sports Desk – AO Tennis Serves Up The Australian Open

by Matthew Kato on Jan 01, 2018 at 03:00 PM

It's January, which means that The Australian Open has the distinction of starting off a new year of tennis with a Grand Slam bang. The tournament starts on January 10, and Melbourne, Australia developer Big Ant Studios (click for more on them) has the official video game license for the tournament. AO Tennis on PS4 and Xbox One is out on January 16th in Australia and New Zealand, and later in March in America and Europe.

Game Informer Australia editor David Milner recently got his hands on the game, and had some positive things to say about Big Ant's first tennis title.


"It feels very much like Top Spin," says Milner, which is a good sign for the title. Face buttons control your shot type like a slice shot or lob, and the right bumper is used for a drop shot. Timing is important, and power is generated by holding down the button longer at the risk of over-cooking your shot out of bounds. The game aims to replicate the strategy of using different shots, power, and placement to setup your opponent before putting them away. Milner says it's "hugely satisfying" to jerk your opponent around from side to side on the court or catch them going the wrong way and unable to adjust to your next shot. "The foundations felt solid over the hour we spent with it." 


AO Tennis has licensed big-name players like Raphael Nadal and Angelique Kerber, and includes dozens of other tennis stars. Not all the players in the actual Australian Open are featured in the game – with Roger Federer a big exception – but Milner says that Big Ant has mo-capped Federer and hopes to include the player at a later date if a deal should eventually go through. The studio has a history of updating titles after release, so hopefully the game continues to grow.

One positive aspect of Big Ant's licensing for the Australian Open is that it has shot-tracking data from the last 10 Australian Opens. This give the studio a foundation upon which to base its A.I. player behavior. If the data shows that Nadal likes to go down the line 70 percent of the time from a certain position on the court, he should do so in the game.


The game isn't just centered around the Australian Open – it also features a career mode and clay and grass surfaces as well. Moreover, like other Big Ant titles, it offers customization in the form of a player creator. Community creations can be uploaded and shared, and this includes created logos, clothing, and stadiums. So, while the game's licensing might not cover all the bases, once again Big Ant has given the community tools to work around the problem.

Hopefully I can get my hands on the game soon myself, and have more to report on it for what's already shaping up to be a year with some serious tennis video game options.

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the game's creation at Big Ant. 

Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below.

Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.


A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week

NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 Get Nike City Jerseys 

DDS: Pro Football 2018 & DDS: College Football 2018 Get Patches 
The pro game gets weather, coach editing, and more (2.0.6), and the college title adds coach editing, two new teams, and other extras.