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Platform: Xbox Series X

TopSpin 2K25 Review

A successful return to the court

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I can't fully explain it, but back in 2003, I got really into the original TopSpin. First released for the Xbox in 2003, the tennis simulator clicked with me in a way that previous depictions of the sport never did. The pickup and play ease of the mechanics led to many multiplayer matches during that time. While the subsequent entries never got their hooks in me the same way, I still enjoyed them more than the limited competition in the marketplace. Over a decade later, this market still hasn't really been filled, which makes it the perfect time for the series to return with TopSpin 2K25.

TopSpin 2K25

Taking over the reins from 2K Czech, Mafia developer Hangar 13 is surprisingly responsible for development duties here. The studio acquits itself nicely here, though, with the gameplay striking a fine balance between the grace and power the sport is known for. Driving serves and hooking lobs are handled with equal aplomb. The title still has that pick up and play introduction that drew me in back in the day. However, in order to really succeed on the court, you'll need to acquaint yourself with the ins and outs of both the sport and the engine powering the game.

Stepping onto the court should feel familiar enough to genre fans. Each of the face buttons, along with one of the triggers, corresponds to a different type of shot. The five kinds in your arsenal are Flat, TopSpin, Slice, Lob and Drop. Each one of them has their own unique purpose in a match, and figuring out when to use what is often key to winning a point. For example, if your opponent is playing too close to the net, a drop behind them is a good way to get them off their game. Or if you need some breathing room, a TopSpin to the opposite corner can get you that. How long you hold down each button will also determine whether you are hitting a control, power or normal shot. Again, each one of these options has its purpose in any given match.

As important as mentally logging all these shot types down is, the most important factor to your game in TopSpin 2K25 is timing. Perfectly timing your swings is a big factor in determining the quality of your shot, as well as the location. Going too late or too early could result in any outcome from hitting the net to serving up a meatball to your opponent to smash back to you. Achieving perfect timing is done through successfully stopping the timing indicator when it is in green section of your on-screen meter. If you're attempting normal or control, this is done by pressing the button for the style of shot you wish to use. For power, you need to hold the button down until a separate power meter completely fills up, then release when it's in the green. It can feel overwhelming at first, but over time you'll get accustomed to the precise timing needed.

TopSpin 2K25

For as daunting as it can seem at the outset, I ultimately ended up clicking with the gameplay of the title pretty quickly. Part of that is due to getting reps on the court, and part of that is due to the robust John McEnroe-led TopSpin Academy. Once I got comfortable, I really grew to love the gameplay. The differing shot types, as well as modifiers for finesse or power, give you a lot of control over the court. Mixing between shots feels great, and I enjoyed figuring out the best way to get my opponents out of their comfort zones. The one flaw I can think of is that movement can feel a little sticky at times. There were moments where my player would get in place for a shot and get locked-in a little outside of the necessary range. It made for frustrating times when I would get hit with an ace that I had plenty of time to play. For the most part, though, I think the mechanics here do service to the intricate nature of the sport, while also not making it too deep to be overwhelming.

Outside of the aforementioned training mode, the modes found within TopSpin 2K25 are what you would expect. Exhibition mode lets you play singles or doubles with a decent selection of professionals or your created players. The roster includes a handful of modern stars like Carlos Alcaraz, Naomi Osaka and Andy Murray, as well as legends such as Serena Williams and Roger Federer. There are some notable omissions, though, like Rafael Nadal, Jannik Sinner and Novak Djokovic. Once you get tired of playing the AI, you can head online to test your skills across three modes. Online exhibition is for one-off matches, World Tour has you competing in tournaments using a created player, and 2K Tour has you using professional players to complete daily challenges and matches. I did find that online play in general was a little choppy at times, which did disrupt the flow of the match. One disappointing thing to note is that as of right now, you cannot invite friends directly. There's only random matchmaking available until the end of the month. It's good to know that the option is coming, but it's baffling that this wasn't included at launch.

MyCareer is ultimately where players will likely spend most of their time though. After creating your future star, you are thrust into the monthly life of a tennis professional. At the outset of each month, you are given the option to play through three kinds of events: training, challenges and tournaments. You can choose to forego any of these events in order to rest, which is needed a few times per year in order to recharge energy or heal up from nagging injuries. Completing these events will help raise your level, which in turn lets you assign attribute points to different aspects of your game. The challenge events also typically reward you with new gear, courts and homes for your player. You can't actually explore your dwellings, but they help conserve your energy for events.

TopSpin 2K25

The three-prong system here starts off well enough, but the longer you spend in the mode, the more you realize how much of a grind it becomes. There are tiers to the training drills, but no new variety opens as you complete them. You only get less of a leash on errors made before you fail out on them. The challenge events offer little difference from tournament matches outside of being shorter. Unless the reward was worth it, I found myself skipping them more and more. Tournaments suffer from the fact that you end up facing a lot of the same opponents repeatedly. This is due to both the limited roster, as well as the same fake players continually popping up. Special matches against the legends included in the title shake things up, but they're still not enough to totally relieve the boredom.

As with all 2K Sports games, virtual currency plays a large role in TopSpin 2K25. Although not as egregious as it is in the NBA 2K series, VC is still woven through all aspects of the game. It is used to purchase new clothes and equipment for your player, hire new coaches and professionals in MyCareer and acquire property. The good news is that you tend to get enough from just playing the game to avoid having to spend real money. I still find it annoying though that cosmetic purchases and campaign purchases are pulled from the same pool of in-game currency.

TopSpin 2K25 looks a little rough around the edges. The models of professionals appear close enough to their real-life counterparts, but the facial animations look off. You don't spend a lot of time looking at them, but when you do get the occasional cutscene, you get a real good look at their dead-eyed expressions. The assorted courts you play on are probably the best part of the presentation. The different court types are depicted well, and you can easily tell the difference between each of them. Not much going on in the sound department. You get the appropriate number of grunts for each player, but there's a distinct lack of commentary. Phoenix is on the soundtrack at least, which is always a positive in my book.

TopSpin 2K25

While it may be a little rusty, it's still nice to see TopSpin 2K25 bring the series back to life. The deep gameplay engine feels fantastic. It's easy enough to pick up and enjoy, but it really shines once you get a handle on the intricacies of it. Outside of the gameplay itself, though, the overall package feels lacking. There's not a ton of modes, and what modes are included don't stray far from the basics. The career mode is lengthy but becomes a grind over time. And while updates are promised, the base roster is lacking in several big names. If anything, this ends up reminding me of another 2K sports series, that of PGA Tour. That one also had a mechanically sound debut but didn't really find its footing until the next release. Who knows what the future holds here, but I hope that next entry of TopSpin brings the series to that next level.

Our ratings for TopSpin 2K25 on Xbox Series X out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
The depictions of the professionals are close enough to their real-life counterparts, and the stadiums look great. The lack of commentary is a glaring omission however, and sound design is underwhelming.
On-court movement can occasionally get sticky, but the overall mechanics are fantastic. Players are given ample freedom to decide how and where they wish to place the ball.
Single Player
The career mode will keep players entertained for long enough, but the train-event-tournament cycle eventually becomes too repetitive.
Although not filled with options, the differing online modes of TopSpin fit players of different skill sets. Not being able to set-up a match with friends currently is a confusing misstep however.
No noticeable issues with the title during my time with it on the Series X.
TopSpin 2K25 is a solid return to the court for the veteran franchise. It's a bit lacking in content, from the limited roster to the repetitive modes, but the excellent gameplay mechanics offer a lot of hope for the future.
TopSpin 2K25
TopSpin 2K25 box art Platform:
Xbox Series X
Our Review of TopSpin 2K25
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
TopSpin 2K25 is ranked #1109 out of 1980 total reviewed games. It is ranked #15 out of 34 games reviewed in 2024.
1108. Stellar Blade
PlayStation 5
1109. TopSpin 2K25
1110. Golf Peaks
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TopSpin 2K25
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