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TopSpin 2K25 serves up a fun, but safe tennis simulation revival

Serena Williams plays Tennis in TopSpin 2K25.

The first video game console I ever owned was an original Xbox that came bundled with two games: NCAA Football 2005 and Top Spin. My appreciation for both Madden and tennis games can be traced back to those being two of my first-ever console gaming experiences.

That’s why I was very excited to hear that Mafia 3 developer Hanger 13 and publisher 2K were bringing the Top Spin tennis series back with TopSpin 2K25 after a 13-year dormancy. Unfortunately, I’m disappointed with how underwhelming the overall product is. Even though it’s the series’ grand return after over a decade, it feels like an extremely iterative sequel to Top Spin 4. It’s certainly approachable, thanks to great tutorials and new meter systems to help players learn proper timing, but TopSpin 2K25‘s light content offering doesn’t make for the strongest opening serve.

Top Spin returns

Developer Hanger 13 hasn’t been coy about the fact that it used 2011’s Top Spin 4 as the base to build TopSpin 2K25. Top Spin 4 is a fantastic tennis game that people still play to this day, as it perfected the series’ timing-based gameplay. This isn’t like Mario Tennis Aces, where a special ability can shoot you across the court and hit timing doesn’t matter. TopSpin 2K25 is a true simulation, so learning proper positioning on the court, when to release a button to swing your racket, and how to aim your shot properly are all critical to success.

Online gameplay in TopSpin 2K25.

All of that applied to the four previous Top Spin games, but TopSpin 2K25 takes more steps to make the game approachable. A TopSpin Academy mode narrated by John McEnroe includes thorough tutorials that feel like they could get even someone who has never played tennis before familiar with the basics of the game. A new timing meter now also appears during gameplay, giving players a clear indication of when to time their serves or swings.

This feature allowed me to find the proper game flow; I could recognize early on if I was not doing well because my swings were happening too late and adjust my timing accordingly. If you’re just here for that basic tennis gameplay loop, Top Spin 2K25 didn’t mess up a good thing. It also doesn’t do much to stand out from the game that came out over 13 years ago or many of the tennis games that debuted in the years since.

More online gameplay of TopSpin 2K25.

When it comes offline modes, TopSpin 2K25 features Top Spin Academy, Exhibition for those who just want to quickly play a standard tennis match, and a MyCareer mode. Exhibition match setups are simple, and a more comprehensive offline tournament mode is missed. While the game does include some big-name tennis players like Roger Federer and Serena Williams, its launch roster is only 25 players, which is the same number Top Spin 4 had in 2011.

Hanger 13 does plan to add more players for free after launch, but outside of the inherent visual polish and big names that 2K’s money can get, TopSpin 2K25 isn’t that much better than the tennis games that came before it in terms of content.

Built for MyPlayer

The main thing 2K and Hanger 13 want people to get invested in is MyPlayer. That’s a common feature in all of 2K’s sports games, where players make a customizable avatar and slowly level up and upgrade their skills over time through gameplay. Offline, players can take their character into MyCareer, where they’ll have to balance trainings, special events, tournaments, and more as they build credibility and try to become a tennis legend.

MyPlayers can then be taken into online tournaments in World Tour or just used for individual matches in Online Exhibition. If you want to play with pro tennis players online, 2K Tour is your best choice. That’s about it in terms of content offerings, and unfortunately, these modes don’t go much deeper. While the NBA 2K games offer modes like The Park that you can’t really get anywhere else, TopSpin 2K25’s offerings on simply on par with both TopSpin 4 and all the tennis games that have filled the void the series’ absence has left over the past decade.

The Centre Court Pass roadmap for TopSpin 2K25.
Hanger13 and 2K have already released this road map teasing what content will come to the game via the Centre Pass between now and spring 2025. 2K

As such, I was woefully underwhelmed by what TopSpin 2K25 had to offer. While the core tennis gameplay is great, mode-wise, it offers either the most basic kind of exhibition modes or something that exists to give players ways to grind for XP or currency to spend in TopSpin 2K25’s Pro Shop or to skip tiers on the Centre Court Pass, its take on a battle pass. And considering I’m locked out of the shop prelaunch and had very little access to the online modes, I can’t confirm how egregious microtransactions’ potential impact on the grind will be.

While there has not been a new Top Spin game since 2011, TopSpin 2K25 feels like a safe, iterative continuation meant to test the waters for a 2K tennis game’s viability in 2024 rather than a passion project to bring a beloved series back. If you have no nostalgia for Top Spin and are just looking for a new tennis simulation game, TopSpin 2K25 is pretty good option and will fulfill that need for you.

However, AO Tennis 2, Tennis World Tour 2, and Matchpoint — Tennis Championships are all on offer for no additional cost if you’re a PlayStation Plus Extra subscriber. Each offers a comparable experience that doesn’t put a battle pass and storefront in your face as heavily as this game does. From there, you can decide which tennis game is best for you.

TopSpin 2K25 is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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