One of the advantages of spending my formative years in close proximity to two English manor houses (my Dad was a gardener) was my siblings, pals, and I were never far from a tennis court. When these courts weren’t in use, they were often invaded by scruffy infants clutching a variety of superannuated and warped ball thwackers. In fiction and movies, these clandestine sessions would have turned me into a formidable adult player. In reality, a lack of application and formal training, mean I’ve ended up a middle-aged mediocrity where tennis is concerned.
Oh well, I can at least ape maestros like Djokovic and Alcaraz with help from classy tennis sims like Full Ace.
£12.50 for the next day and a half and £19 thereafter, Full Ace seems to possess almost everything I look for in a sports game. Miraculously, the impressive realism and plethora of play modes rely on less than 350 megabytes of code.
You won’t find spooky doppelgangers of real tennis players and tournaments in FA – well, not in the unmodded version anyway. Galactic Gaming Guild, the French devs, have spent their time and funds fashioning strong fundamentals instead. A collection of thirty-odd unsequenced tutorials do a grand job of introducing newcomers to these fundamentals, and various practise modes ensure the lessons lodge in brain and fingers.
Theoretically it’s possible to play with nothing but a keyboard, but with separate controls for player movement, shot targeting, and shot selection (topspin, backspin, drop shot, lob, and hard) you’re probably going to struggle unless you own a gamepad or are polydactyl.
I lost my first match, a single set experiment, 6-0 which was a tad dispiriting, but after returning to the tutorials, tweaking my gamepad assignments, and fiddling with the sim’s thirteen difficulty customisation levers, quickly found myself involved in much closer contests. This isn’t a game you are going to fully master in a day or even a week, but I’d be surprised if you weren’t winning matches and enjoying yourself by hour two or three.
The selection of pre-built players and the range of tournament and exhibition mode customisation options are so extensive, I’ve not bothered to craft my own bespoke courtier yet (this image was the result of a five-minute reconnoitre) or check out career mode.
Over the past five years the lads and lasses from Lyon have proven themselves to be totally committed to FA. In March the game received a particularly substantial update…
Doubles matches and player management are in the pipeline. Sadly, economic factors mean it could be years before this fine game’s most glaring omission is addressed.