TopSpin 2K25 – Review

It’s been a new dawn for tennis – both on and off the court. We just witnessed (what is likely) Rafael Nadal’s last dance on the orange clay of Roland-Garros, saw Zendaya rallying up some steamy scenes on the silver screen in Challengers, and are in hot anticipation for Roger Federer’s documentary, Twelve Final Days. It’s ‘spin’ a long time coming then (forgive us), for one of the greatest tennis video game series, Top Spin, to finally come out of the shadows and some 13 years later with Hangar 13 at the helm, TopSpin 2K25 serves up an ace with an on-court gameplay experience that’s equal parts responsive and addictive.

Unfortunately, double faults in content and uninspiring microtransaction systems, makes TopSpin 2K25 an experience that’s far from being a Grand Slam. At its core, tennis is all about heritage, and developers Hanger 13 were well aware of this with its latest iteration. Staying true to its roots, TopSpin 2K25 was built off the bones of Top Spin 4 (2011), with familiar and intuitive controls making it easy for long-time fans to pick up where they’ve left off, and newcomers to feel the tension and pace akin to the sport itself and not spend extended amounts of time looking perplexed at their controllers.

Most significantly, it works because it feels great. Movement around the court doesn’t feel janky or unnatural, and you can definitely feel the momentum and weight of your character as you return shots on the hop, running from sideline to sideline. This realism is amplified by the type of surfaces as well – where anticipating the difference between sliding on clay and squeaking around on a hard court results in a well-timed shot, or the unmistakable sound of your ball slapping the tape of the net.

With gameplay feeling relatively close to the real thing, it allows for the strategic element of tennis to shine through in TopSpin 2K25. A straightforward timing system that lets you tap for controlled returns or hold to unleash a power shot creates this well-balanced sense of risk versus reward between patiently wearing down your opponent, or going for broke by painting the lines. It feels extremely satisfying throwing your opponent around the court only for you to catch them wrong-footed with a winner back in the same direction, and equally as gut-wrenching when your ill-advised approach shot sails wayward.

There’s just one unforced error with TopSpin 2K25’s gameplay – long rallies can feel rather repetitive. Although there are five different shot types one can employ and an advanced serving system that allows experienced players to pinpoint its exact location, it would’ve been nice if there was advanced shot selection as well. Sure, having John McEnroe calmly guiding you through the ropes of the game as you complete the TopSpin Academy’s 30-odd lessons will teach you everything you need to know about the game, but shots still seem rather robotic and predictable – ensuing in what feels like a throwback game of Pong.

John McEnroe being a calm coach? You cannot be serious!

Akin to the real sport’s focus on individual glory – MyCareer takes centre court in TopSpin 2K25. Here you get to create your own tennis pro, participating in a myriad of training drills, special events, and tournaments that will take your player from a relative unknown to a superstar. With the training drills and special events, you get a good chance to refine your own basic skills, gain some valuable XP to improve your player’s attributes – picking up some cool cosmetic items along the way. Here is where the role-playing element of any sports game truly shines. With a level cap at 30, it prevents players from creating a Roger Federer on steroids by maxing out every stat category. 

You have to be discerning with the type of player that you want to build, pumping up points in speed if you plan to be a defensive counter-puncher, or cranking out the power if you want to be a serve-and-volley machine – sacrificing certain aspects of your game in the process. Throw in some fittings for your racket like a new set of strings or grip, which confer attribute bonuses on your player: you’ll start feeling like a kid in a Build-A-Bear Workshop.

However, it’s a shame that this level of customisation only applies to certain fittings and cosmetic items that don’t affect your player’s attributes at all. There is an appalling lack of variety in a game that has seen so many different styles of play. TopSpin 2K25 only has two backhand animations to choose from (one-handed and two-handed), and a solitary forehand option and maybe that’s also why after putting 10 hours into TopSpin 2K25, every rally sort of starts looking like a baseline shuttle run. 

TopSpin 2K25 should start taking notes from its cousins NBA 2K24 and WWE 2K24, where there are hundreds of unique animations to choose from, and a slight change in the weight and height of your player also results in differing attribute caps. With its absence, you could make a player with the lanky build of John Isner have the speed of Alex DeMinaur, which makes absolutely no sense. Additionally, it seems like TopSpin 2K25 also didn’t capture the idea of aging whatsoever – you could literally be winning the Australian Open at the ripe old age of 80.

As you trod on each month in your player’s journey, it’s governed by an energy level that starts at 100% and depletes with each event you complete, with the bulk of energy sapped from participating in tournaments. While annoying, it makes the game feel quite similar to the real tour, where tennis players are selective with their tours and rotations in order to maximise both their training schedules and on-court performance without overworking their bodies. Strangely enough, injuries only happen after said tournaments, and you don’t actually get penalised for waltzing into a major competition with only 1% energy. It isn’t a game-breaker, but it does affect the game’s immersion knowing that one could enter a tournament with a broken leg and still win.

The dream for any player would be to win Grand Slams and be included in people’s Mount Rushmore of tennis in passing, and access to more prestigious events like Wimbledon and the US Open involves increasing your status from Unknown to Legend. Moving up the ranks involves completing a checklist of goals, from winning a certain number of tournaments, completing a set amount of training sessions, and making the top 10 in the tennis rankings. However, these checklists could use more flexibility and fine-tuning as the rules for any meteoric doesn’t make sense, as it’s possible that even though you’ve cracked the top 10 in the world rankings, you could still be locked out of participating in Grand Slam tournaments simply because you haven’t won enough of the lesser TS250 competitions. 

Even after reaching the summit, replayability falls off a cliff when you constantly come up against the same set of licensed players, with a mere 20 in total across both men and women. What’s worse is that though most of these players in-game look quite similar to real life (Andy Murray fans look away now), the individual player’s mannerisms and on-court playstyle don’t carry over. It’s odd not seeing Daniil Medvedev standing miles behind the baseline in anticipation of a serve, or the absence of Serena Williams’ iconic roar that instead sounds like any other generic female whimper.

Presentation-wise, the considerable list of licensed stadiums all look true to life, with real sponsors being present on the border boards and corners of the net which adds to the realism. However there’s not much to sing lyrically beyond that. There’s no coin toss at the start which lets you choose from serve or side of court, no option to challenge a close line call, and each tournament win somehow results in you lifting the exact same trophy in the exact same prize ceremony. You don’t even get to shake Princess Middleton’s hand after winning Wimbledon, or at least put on a jacket to cover up the sweaty mess that you are after going through gruelling sets of play.

Perhaps the breaking point of the game would be that beyond MyCareer, there really isn’t much else to do. Local play is limited to singles and doubles exhibition games and the TopSpin Academy tutorials, there isn’t an option to be a coach, create custom tournaments, and so on, like what many other sports games currently in the market offer.

There isn’t much to do online either, so with gameplay so addictive TopSpin 2K25 missed the opportunity to come up with interesting ways to play. There is no option to play with your friends, team-up with them in some ranked doubles, and only the option to play ranked singles to climb a seasonal leaderboard. Even though you can be cracked at the game, there aren’t any apparent rewards for placing well in the tour, resulting in no clear incentive and longevity.

What’s worse, even with the barebone content of TopSpin 2K25, the game manages to somehow incorporate a virtual currency and microtransaction system that is devoid of logic. In many games there are two concurrent economies, but TopSpin 2K25 decided to create a virtual currency that you can buy with real cents and dollars instead of segregating them. What results is a warped economy where for some inexplicable reason, it is somehow cheaper to purchase a penthouse safe house in New York, than it is to buy a Wilson Pro Staff racket. The prize money you get from winning a Grand Slam tournament also pales in comparison to what you would get in real life. You made it as Wimbledon champ? Get ready because there are no Rolexes or Porsche waiting, just a spanking new headband.




Ultimately, TopSpin 2K25 gets the fundamentals right: its gameplay is fantastic. Undoubtedly it does suffer from a few glaring problems, from an unrealistic virtual currency system, to a miniscule list of licensed players, and a dreadful lack of content. However, it still feels like an unfurnished apartment though there’s that hope then, of adding new pieces of furniture like captivating game modes, of sprinkling in decorations and lamps in the form of a larger roster of tennis pros and unique trophies. Much like a young phenom bursting into the spotlight in real tennis, TopSpin 2K25 may not be winning titles just yet, but it’s one to definitely keep an eye out for.

  • Gameplay - 7.8/10
  • Presentation - 6.5/10
  • Value - 6.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 7.5/10