TopSpin 2K25 review: Back to fundamentals

It's been years since the TopSpin franchise has been in play, but 2K and Hanger 13 have successfully revived the series with fresh ideas and impressive on-court action.


Much to my frustration, there has been a distinct lack of solid tennis simulations for more than a decade. TopSpin 4 and Virtua Tennis 4, the last main entries for their series, both released way back in 2011. Since then, I’ve tried other upstarts like AO Tennis, Matchpoint, and Tennis World Tour, but they all have weaknesses of their own. While Nintendo’s Mario Tennis games were able to scratch the itch, I still missed being able to build a character from a rookie into a Grand Slam legend by winning all four tennis majors. Fortunately, TopSpin 2K25 developed by 2K’s Hangar 13 has finally made a comeback, and it comes with a new swing meter, a star-studded roster, and a lengthy MyCareer campaign. Though the graphics and presentation have several flaws, the matches are dynamic and challenging enough to keep this revival from landing out of bounds.

Getting out of no man’s land

TopSpin 2K25 Gameplay Match
For serves, you can use simple controls using the face buttons or advanced controls using the thumbstick.

SOURCE: Shacknews

Veterans of the TopSpin franchise will be familiar with the overall gameplay for TopSpin 2K25, but it’s advised that all players pour through the TopSpin Academy for a refresher. Available after playing as Roger Federer in a quick-match tutorial, this mode narrated by tennis legend John McEnroe provides a series of basic and advanced lessons that explain the fundamentals at an even pace. In addition to illustrating the differences between slices, lobs, flat shots, and top spin shots, it goes into detail on the new meter that appears every time your character makes a swing. Control shots require you to tap a button when the line on the meter hits the green end of the bar, while power shots have you hold a button down as a wind-up before releasing it within that same area.

Getting the proper timing down for the swing meter is tough but fair. The line moves at a faster speed if you’re faced with a difficult return, particularly if you’re chasing the ball down or if it’s been hit with a lot of power. An indicator after each shot tells you if it was perfect, good, too soon, or too late, a mechanic which TopSpin fans will recognize. In effect, the meter provides transparency for why your character makes a mishit so that it doesn’t feel like the game is cheating you with the timing window. On rare occasions, you can still send the ball into the net or over the line despite the shot having good or perfect timing, though that is usually due to your character having low stats in a particular category.

A careful approach shot

TopSpin 2K25 Serena Williams Roger Federer
Serena Williams and Roger Federer are just two high-profile names on the roster.

SOURCE: Shacknews

The attribute system offers a good amount of flexibility when it comes to your build while still forcing you to make important decisions. Almost all characters benefit from placing a fair amount of points into Speed to maneuver around the court quickly as well as the Forehand and Backhand stats to improve the accuracy of nearly every shot. Offensive baseliners need Power to rip shots past an opponent, while defensive baseliners need Stamina to outlast the opponent. Having high Serve and Volley stats helps in scoring near the net and puts pressure on the opponent from the start of a point. The Reflexes attribute shouldn’t be ignored either since that makes it easier to make difficult returns. A character that reaches the level cap of 30 only has enough points to max out roughly four of the eight stats, so you’ll need to live with the strengths and weaknesses of your chosen playstyle.

To put the lessons into use immediately, the quick-play Exhibition mode allows you to get into the action quickly and choose from among 25 star athletes on the roster. The Pro Player list includes a good mix of legends in the sport and contenders who are still active on the circuit: Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Coco Gauff, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Carlos Alcaraz, Iga Swiatek, and many more. Interestingly, the game treats male and female athletes equally as far as attributes are concerned, so you can play mixed doubles and modern variations of the famous Battle of the Sexes without worrying about balance. This extends to the 1v1 online modes too, including the World Tour for created characters and the 2K Tour for Pro Players. That said, the men’s tour and women’s tour are separated in the offline MyCareer campaign.

A new ruler of center court

TopSpin 2K25 MyCareer Rookie
Newly created characters start with only 30 out of 100 in every attribute.

SOURCE: Shacknews 

The main, singles-only MyCareer mode in TopSpin 2K25, similar to other campaigns in past entries of the series, takes a slow-burn approach. New characters begin at Level 1 with very low stats (or Level 10 if you purchase the MyPLAYER Boost), and the game has no qualms pitting you against much higher level opponents right from the start. Besides reaching the top spot in the global rankings, your objective is to complete various goals at your current status level to climb the ladder to super stardom. How long this takes varies greatly depending on your skill relative to the difficulty level and the match length setting, which can turn full matches with multiple sets into a simple tiebreaker. However, choosing shorter matches lessens the amount of experience points your character receives, so raising a rookie to the level cap still takes roughly 25 to 30 hours.

Getting through the calendar of events in MyCareer is a simple, straightforward, and enjoyable experience despite a few flaws in the progression system. Every in-game month, your character has access to a training mini-game, a Special Event like a sponsor challenge or doubles match, and entry into one of several tournaments. Meanwhile, you need to manage your energy levels properly to prevent injuries, so resting every now and then is recommended. Improving your status level unlocks higher tiers for more difficult mini-games and harder tournaments like the majors, while increasing your character’s level gives access to coaches and racket fittings. In time, you can also purchase homes and hire staff members for additional perks.

Unfortunately, developing your character feels stifled in several ways. Coaches provide attribute bonuses and special skills upon clearing specific objectives, but these are removed if you swap coaches or upgrade your current one to the next tier. This leads to times when your coach is awkwardly reset, and while there are numerous coaches to choose from, you’re pushed to stick with one for an entire runthrough. Racket fittings, which are rewarded as random drops after matches, provide stat bonuses too. But since equipping a fitting costs in-game currency called VC, even if you are switching to a fitting you’ve used before, you’re encouraged not to try new ones unless you are certain they are optimal. Earning extra experience points for quality play on the court would have been appreciated too.

A fresh coat of paint

TopSpin 2K25 Victory Presenter
You'll see this NPC every time you win a tournament.

SOURCE: Shacknews

In broad strokes, the graphics and presentation for TopSpin 2K25 are up to the mark. Character animations are smooth and fluid, making movement on the court and all of the different shots look seamless. The modeling for the Pro Players and the recreations of real-life venues are impressive, as are the cosmetic options available in the Pro Shop and Seasonal Passes. They both feature various clothing, footwear, accessories, and equipment from brands that include Nike, Wilson, Fila, Lacoste, and Uniqlo. The character creator is fairly decent, allowing for many facial tweaks, animation options, and even audio controls for how often your player grunts. The tight selection of in-game menu music, which is usually forgettable in most sports titles, is surprisingly solid too.

On the flipside, the NPCs in the crowd are lackluster with some of them being noticeably duplicated many times over to fill the stands. The cutscenes before and after a match don’t have a lot of variety either. In MyCareer you’ll hear the same pre-match introduction and watch the same post-match award ceremony for multiple tournaments in a row. Also disappointing is the lack of on-court commentary and on-screen stat trackers, which would have helped liven the experience.

Serve it and smash it

TopSpin 2K25 Doubles Match
Some Special Events will challenge you to play in doubles matches.

SOURCE: Shacknews 

Despite a few mishits, TopSpin 2K25 is well worth the wait. Though this revival doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, it gets the fundamentals right. Mastering the new swing meter is challenging, but once you get the timing down, it’s easy to get into the zone and spend hours strategically striking balls on the court without realizing how many hours have passed. The extensive MyCareer mode, while restrictive in spots, rewards consistent play and smart choices over the long run. TopSpin 2K25 is a promising reboot that shows plenty of potential for future entries in the series and gratefully brings tennis simulations back into the conversation.

This review is based on a PlayStation 5 code provided by the publisher. The game is available for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.

Contributing Editor

Once upon a time, Nick's parents confiscated his Super Nintendo because he was "playing it too much." He has secretly sworn revenge ever since. Nick is now a freelance writer for various video game sites. Powered by iced green tea, he typically plays RPGs of all kinds like Shin Megami Tensei, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. In his spare time, he follows the latest season of Critical Role.

Review for
TopSpin 2K25
  • New swing meter
  • Good roster of Pro Players
  • Fluid on-court animations and gameplay
  • Lengthy MyCareer mode with many viable builds
  • A wealth of cosmetic options and name-brand apparel
  • MyCareer progression is stifled at times
  • Lackluster crowds and repetitive cutscenes
  • No on-court commentary
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