TopSpin 2K25 Review

The Top Spin franchise has made its return after a long, long hiatus. In fact, there haven’t been many tennis games at all in the thirteen years since Top Spin 4’s release. Will Top Spin fans, or tennis fans in general be rewarded for their patience?

TopSpin 2K25 is not an easy game to learn, let alone to master, so anyone just starting out with the game should make the TopSpin Academy their first stop. This mode features three sequences of tutorials that cover the basics of the game, advanced techniques, and different playstyles. The tutorial sessions take place on a practice court with your lessons delivered via voiceovers recorded by John McEnroe. Shot timing is the most critical success factor in the game because without good timing you won’t have much success with aim, spin, or anything else. When you begin your backswing, a shot meter appears over your player. Hit the ball when the indicator in the meter reaches the target zone and you’ll hit a “perfect” shot. Close enough will give you a “good” shot, but “early” and “late” shots will be weak and possibly errant. The lessons emphasize the importance of timing early on, but the feedback that you get isn’t anything more than what you get from the meter. I found it far more difficult to determine when to begin a swing than I did to get the timing right by releasing the button at the right point within the swing meter. It’s odd that with all of the lessons present here, none of them cover when to begin your swing, let alone how to adjust that timing depending on the type of shot your opponent has sent your way.


Still, there are plenty of useful lessons in the Academy. The extra visual aid when learning about shot aim and placement is quite helpful, as well as learning about the various shot types and when to use them. I found the positioning, strategy, and playstyle lessons particularly helpful since I’ve only played a little tennis myself and don’t watch many professional matches. These lessons certainly helped me when I moved to the gameplay modes, but I have to admit that I continued to struggle with the shot timing for a while. It made the game frustrating at times and I really wish the Academy took the time to really cover this fundamental aspect of play.


The game’s basic “jump in and play” mode is its exhibition mode. In this mode you can create any kind of match-up that you desire. You can select your player and opponent from the game’s extensive roster of pros, past and present, pick a venue and time of day, and even tweak the number of games in each set and match. Once I completed the Academy lessons, I started playing the game in this mode to get a feel for the gameplay. I did catch myself making a few mistakes like getting myself caught in the “dead zone” of the court, but I was able to make adjustments based on what I learned in the Academy and improve my play. After playing against a few different opponents, it became clear that playstyle has a large impact on how a match will play out and how you need to adjust your game to counter your opponent’s. For example, Federer roams the baseline sending powerful shots your way directed at the corners, while McEnroe plays the net, rapidly sending your shots right back into your side of the court. Each pro has their own style and is rated in a number of skill categories, which results in a lot of variety from match to match. You’ll have to adjust your game to counter your opponent’s strengths and exploit their weaknesses, taking full advantage of all of the shot controls that the game provides.


One of the more subtle stats you’ll need to contend with is stamina. Long volleys will sap the players’ stamina which will bring down the other stats and make it more difficult to control your shots with the same precision as when you’re at full strength. Players will recover some of that stamina at the next serve, but there will be a lingering effect. The longer a match goes, the less stamina you’ll have to draw upon. If you have a player with a strong stamina, simply wearing down your opponents is a viable strategy.

The game’s marque mode is MyCareer, in which you create a custom player and try to take them from the junior circuits to the top of the world rankings. The game’s character creator tool is pretty full-featured, giving you a good degree of control over the look of your player. There are also plenty of outfits and accessories available to complete your look, and of course there’s a game store in which you can exchange real-world cash for virtual name-brand clothing for your player.

The next step in the character creation process will actually have an impact on gameplay. You’ll be presented with a screen full of sliders that will set your initial stats. As in an RPG, you’ll have a limited number of points to allocate, so you’ll need to emphasize the stats that will best serve the style of play you’ll want to use.


Your career is divided into months, with each month offering three events – a training challenge, an exhibition match – usually a one-off game with altered rules or special goals, and a tournament. Competing in the former two will earn you experience, while the latter will both reward experience and affect your national ranking. You will also have a coach whose job is not so much to give you pointers on technique, but to provide you with another set of goals that can be accomplished across events to earn experience points.

You can skip events or take a month off, which is something you’ll need to do on occasion to manage your overall stamina. The more that you play – and the greater the distance you need to travel from your current location to that of the next event – will drain your base stamina. This stamina will be your starting stamina at your next tournament, so pushing yourself too much will degrade your ability to compete.

There are a wide variety of locations and events, and you’ll often have your choice between a couple of different ones during any given month. This variety is important because MyCareer is very much a grind. Experience points are awarded in a trickle, and it will take quite some time before you can accumulate enough levels to start pushing your stats into the elite level. Building a world renown tennis player is a long-haul process. You won’t be winning a grand slam event any time soon.


TopSpin 2K25 also supports online play. You can play matches against other gamers or join tournaments and leaderboard challenges, or take on some of the game’s daily challenges. The game does a reasonable job of matching gamers by the level of their created players, but the occasional frustrating mismatch does occur. You’ll probably want to spend time honing your game in MyCareer and exhibition matches before diving into competitive play, though.

TopSpin 2K25 offers up a challenging simulation of the sport that may be too much for those looking for a casual tennis game. In spite of its efforts to teach players the subtleties of both the controls and the sport, you’ll have to try and pick up a lot of it on your own if you’re going to get any good at the game. I can certainly see some players getting frustrated with it. Those who enjoy tennis will appreciate the game’s excellent presentation and sheer content of licensed gear offered through the store or waiting to be earned through seasonal rewards. They’ll probably wish that progression wasn’t such a grind, though.

Final Rating: 78% - TopSpin 2K25 is a tough tennis simulation that feels like it requires as much work to get good at it as it does for the actual sport.


Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.