As sports games continue to evolve with new and clever control schemes, players are offered fresh and (hopefully) intuitive ways to get their game on. In 2009, EA released the first Grand Slam Tennis exclusively for the Wii. The game gave tennis lovers the opportunity to play their favorite sport in the comfort of their own home, but with the precision of the Wii Motion Plus attachment. While an Xbox 360 and PS3 version never saw the light of day, EA’s response was to release Grand Slam Tennis 2 exclusive to these consoles. The result? EA serves up a fairly worthy entry in the genre, even going up against tennis titans like Virtua Tennis and Top Spin.
There’s no arguing that Grand Slam Tennis 2 is significantly different than its predecessor. Other than the obvious console change, there is a lot of fresh content to look forward to here. While the first game took the sport in a cartoonish direction for the Wii, its sequel arrives with a much more serious tone. Character models are realistic, animations and movements are fantastically accurate, and overall feels less like an arcade game; standing more in line with the likes of EA’s Madden or FIFA titles. However, this should in no way suggest that Grand Slam 2 takes away what made the previous game so distinct. Yes, as the title suggests, players once again get to experience the magic of the real life 4 Grand Slam tennis events - including the legendary Wimbledon. Tennis fans, contain your excitement!
"A plethora of content, an expansive career covering the 4 Grand Slams, a great roster of players, and an incredibly precise new control scheme makes this game certainly deserving of Grand Slam in its title. "
Players worried about a lack of content need not be concerned. Believe it or not, there may actually be more in this package than you can handle! Grand Slam Tennis 2 is filled with game modes such as career, tournament, ESPN Grand Slam Classics, and online play. Career takes you on a personalized tour of all 4 Grand Slam events - the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. You have the option to create your own character with your own stats, rank up, level up, and complete objectives as you go along. This is a great mode, but one of the main problems in career is how easy it is to start out. Eventually, gameplay becomes repetitive when your computer opponent is obviously hitting the ball directly to you, rather than going for the open half of your court. Not to mention you’ll be doing all your training in a special mode in which John McEnroe yells at you for being a failure. A lot. It would have been nice to have more challenge near the beginning of your career because of this.
One of the modes I had the most fun with however, was ESPN Grand Slam Classics. In this mode, players have the opportunity to live their favorite legendary moments in tennis, and even some fantasy games between newer and older tennis pros. It was certainly a delight to actually live the tense match between the Williams sisters. While other modes are fun, nothing beats going up against an actual person. I was happy to see that online play worked so well. Not once did I experience lag, or had trouble joining a match. These games of tennis can get incredibly tense, which isn’t something you experience often against the NPCs.
Being a sports title, the entire game would fall flat on its face without quality gameplay. Luckily, this is probably Grand Slam Tennis 2’s greatest strength. One of the main attractions gamers will be looking forward to with this sequel is the inclusion of Total Racquet Control. Similar to the analog stick controls of the Tiger Woods and NHL Hockey games, players move their characters with the left stick, while the right stick completely acts as your racket. Pushing the stick forward is a flat shot, pulling the stick back and letting go is a slice, and pulling back then pushing forward pulls off a top spin. With each of these moves, the ball goes in the direction of which you moved the stick. The system isn’t perfect, but this control scheme offers true precision, and makes for a fun way to play the game. There will be times when you feel the game didn’t respond the way you intended, but these occurrences are fairly rare, and don’t do much damage to the experience. If this system isn’t rubbing you the right way, EA has provided the option of using simple button controls, as well as PS Move support for the PS3 version.
As for presentation, EA is known for having no problem in this department. The visuals shine with style in Grand Slam Tennis 2. Players will feel as if they are actually watching a tennis game on their TV. Realistic character models, animations, sounds, and even the ESPN brand in between plays help to pull the player into the game as if it were reality. Also contributing to the realism is the commentary by John McEnroe and Pat Cash. During your first few playthroughs, their dialogue will appear to never be repeated. There is enough variety here to keep the commentating for each game feeling unique. Even though, this doesn’t last long, the fact that their dialogue will change depending on your backhand, forehand, and slam shots was quite a treat.
I know one thing to always look forward to in a sports game is the player roster. We all love jumping in as our favorite star, right? Grand Slam Tennis 2 knocks this one clean off of the court with its line up of tennis legends. Here you will find everyone from Serena Williams to Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, and yes, even McEnroe himself. Even movements and animations are individualized for each character. It’s also nice to hear those incredibly accurate “grunts” as they swing their racket.
There’s no denying it, really. Sports game fan or tennis fan, there is much to enjoy in EA’s latest entry in the genre. Errors and annoyances are few and far between. While the only damaging flaw is a significant lack of difficulty in most portions of the game, don’t let yourself lose interest because of it. A plethora of content, an expansive career covering the 4 Grand Slams, a great roster of players, and an incredibly precise new control scheme makes this game certainly deserving of Grand Slam in its title.
Release date : 2012-02-14
Publisher : EA Sports
Developer : EA Canada
Gameplay : Sports
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