That headline is misleading. If we’re being honest, the gameplay footage is minimal, and it’s alpha footage too. But it’s the first proper in-game action we’ve seen and that’s got to count for something. Prior to this, developer Breakpoint had only shown replay-style video of Tennis World Tour, so now at least we have a clearer picture of how the gameplay is shaping up.
Creative director Etienne Jacquemain talks us through the Capturing Tennis dev diary, and, while my French is sketchy at best, I can confirm that he says “camera” a lot. And “motion capture”, and “uh” in that special French way to fill spaces between words. The video shows former pro Maxime Teixeira, wrapped up in ping-pong balls, going through a range of tennis strokes and related actions in an effort to make player movement look as natural and as fluid as possible.
A genuine concern, though, is that if he’s the sole provider of mo-cap for Tennis World Tour we could end up with a roster of tennis stars with identical playing styles. Hopefully Breakpoint has a few other tennis players lined up for motion capture to ensure variety on the court. For all I know, Mr. Jacquemain might have said as much during his commentary, so if any of you speak French, please let me know.
Truth be told, it’s not looking great. Let’s just keep that Alpha disclaimer in mind, and assume things will sharpen up a lot between now and that May 2018 release date. We don’t get a lot of tennis games these days, which is a shame – both Virtua Tennis and the Top Spin franchise did brilliantly to capture the essence of the sport, and it’s a sport which translates really well into gameplay.