EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis - WII - Review
For all of you tennis fans out there looking for a better and more challenging upgrade to the Wii Sports Tennis game originally released 3 years ago, EA Sports has got the game for you. EA bursts into the tennis arena with Grand Slam Tennis for the Wii, a much needed upgrade that finally takes full advantage of the Wii’s incredible new Wii Motion Plus accessory. Bringing together 23 of the best tennis stars to ever step on the court and showcasing 12 courts from all four Grand Slam events, EA Sports has another in a long line of successful sports franchises on their hands. Players can choose to play as the hot-tempered John McEnroe (exclusive to Grand Slam Tennis and sporting the excellent ‘fro), the flashy Raphael Nadal, the powerhouse Andy Roddick, or the impressive Williams sisters. This game is rich with content and game modes for any level player from novice user to hard-core tennis junkies!
There are three different ways to play Grand Slam Tennis. You can try using just the Wii-mote for swinging motion and the computer AI will move you side to side advancing you towards the balls location. Swinging the Wii-mote will connect with the ball and playing this way is really about getting the timing down of ball placement. Swing early for cross court shots, swing late for close court, trigger for drops, and A for lobs. This option works well for beginners and will give you a basic taste for the game, but to get the a better feel, connect the nunchuk. Doing this gives you total control over your player moving back and forth across the court and rushing the net for volley play all using the analog stick on the nunchuk, swing control is still the same with the Wii-mote. I recommend starting out playing this way for anyone who is savvy with the Wii controls. I tried playing with just the Wii-mote after playing a few games with the nunchuk control scheme, and the play took a downturn because the AI movement of your player across the court isn’t always the best.
For the full experience though, you should go out and buy the Wii Motion Plus accessory and get ready to really feel control over your game. As soon as I connected the Wii Motion Plus, I could feel the game becoming better, putting spin and placing the ball on the court became a lot more concrete and I was able to get more power out of some of the swings I was struggling with earlier. There is a definite learning curve to the Wii Motion Plus, so give yourself 20 minutes of playing on the Practice Court, but the experience is well worth it. I found myself really swinging the Wii-mote around my living room and getting into the game. The claim about “racket rotation” isn’t really that drastic, but the play just becomes so much better attaching the Wii Motion Plus. EA has done a great job with this title taking advantage of Nintendo’s latest fun accessory.
Once you’ve got the basics of the swing down and decided how you are going to play (seriously, use the Wii Motion Plus), it’s time to jump into the depth that EA has given this game. Players have the option to play alone in singles or Grand Slam mode, with up to four friends taking advantage of the Party Mode and playing one of a dozen tennis mini games, or internationally using the Online mode which is geared to pit nations against each other in a battle for who plays the best tennis. With all these options, players will keep coming back to this title.
Players can choose to play now and have fun with singles matches or doubles matches with up to four players, using any one of the 23 legends of tennis that Grand Slam offers. You can choose between any of the courts available for this mode as well. For a great multi-player experience, start in on the Tennis Party mode to pick from a dozen different mini games that can pit players against each other in games where lobs and drop shots score double, or winners mode where you play against the clock to stay on the winning team. The mini-games are fun and offer a great option for the “party” atmosphere that Wii games are supposed to appeal to. There is also a Get Fit mode that tracks your time played and calories burned during play. This is a very basic evaluation about how much a player should be moving during play and there really aren’t measurements involved, but it’s a nice touch to grab on the “fitness” aspect of the Wii.
The two real hallmark modes in Grand Slam Tennis are the Online Play and the Grand Slam mode. EA has provided an online arena that is second to none. I experienced very little in the way of delays or hiccups and there were plenty of challengers online to play against. Test your skills in “Ranked Matches” to get yourself a spot atop your nations’ leader board and score points for your home country. Grand Slam online also tracks wins and losses for each country represented by the players who own the game and it is great to go out and seek wins for your country and try and hoist them to the top of the leader board. This aspect is something that hasn’t really been approached yet with online rankings, and definitely adds a unique twist to the game.
Grand Slam mode is really where EA has made Grand Slam Tennis great. Players can create unique characters from a collection of different faces and accessories and dress them in clothes from Nike, Adidas, Under Armor and more. Once your player is designed, you start your quest to become on of the best, playing your way through each of the 4 Grand Slam events around the world, the French Open, Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. Each venue has the unique feel of playing on grass, clay or hardcourt. The ball bounces different, the players stopping and pivots are different, the languages of the courtside refs are different. At each venue, your character can play through a series of exhibition matches with famous players in order to learn their skills and capture an ability medallion. As you progress and make better shots, your character’s skill will rise too, allowing you to equip more than one medallion at a time. Playing this mode was really quite fun and very challenging. You have to decide what kind of player you’re going to be and pick skills from pros that will benefit that type of game. The more wins you rack up, the more swag you pick up from vendors as well including clothes, headbands, rackets and shoes.
This may be as close as you can get to holding a racket and stepping onto the clay of Roland Garros with Bjorn Borg, one of the greatest of all time at the French Open, or going against Roger Federrer at Wimbledon.
The gameplay may be top notch, however, this isn’t to say that this is the perfect tennis game and without any flaws. Graphically, Grand Slam Tennis looks very good. The cartoonish caricatures of all the famous players are great. The small touches are there as well with older players using older style, long-necked rackets and newer players using the big-faced Wilsons. Each players style is captured too with their celebrations or swing styles. The arenas of each of the Grand Slams are captured very well and the look and feel of each venue is authentic. It does seem though that there could have been more added. The ball boys are visible and sit at the sides of the net, but they never move; the ref is a static voice at the top of the chair; the audience may waive their arms, but they are just color blots with arms and no faces. With all the detail put into the characters and the gameplay though, the player will barely be effected by these smaller points. The vocalizations of the announcer, Pat Cash, are very limited and can get repetitive easy. The soundtrack, done by Electronic DJ Paul van Dyke, is quite good and keeps the energy of the game at a good level.
Capturing the spirit of world class tennis and giving the appeal of the game to all generations and ability-levels of players, EA has a real hit with this title. The addition of the Wii Motion Plus to game play sincerely takes Grand Slam tennis to another level of sports game, much the same way that the Wii Balance Board took fitness games to new levels. If Grand Slam Tennis is any indication to the further evolution of the revolutionary Wii, than players have a lot of fun games to look forward to. EA does a great job jumping early into the Wii Motion Plus arena with Grand Slam Tennis and they release a strong first title in what appears to be another great franchise.
|Review Scoring Details for EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis|
The wide range of game modes available and the depth of gameplay offered by Grand Slam Tennis will keep players coming back whether to keep their Grand Slam dreams alive or pick up a quick match solo or with friends. EA did a great job making tennis accessible to a wide range of players and by offering the varying difficulties with the different controller schemes, and gameplay will really appeal to all players.
I really enjoyed the kind of “look” that EA was going for with this title, the caricatured players, the ability to create your own character, the renderings of the world-class arenas that you play in are all superb. The graphics are smooth, replays are a nice touch and the game is bright and very appealing. There are some things that can be improved upon, such as crowds, keeping the ball boys off the court if they are just going to be static or maybe including weather effects. These drawbacks are so minor though, most casual players won’t even notice.
The very repetitive in-play commentary from Pat Cash needs to be addressed in the next edition of this franchise. There really wasn’t much unique said about each of the 23 legends either. However, the soundtrack is very nice and compliments the gameplay well. The sounds of the ball and racket are also great, changing with each different surface at each venue.
There is a learning curve with using the Wii Motion Plus, but take the time, it’s very worth it. Computer AI isn’t that easy to get past either, they don’t make too many unforced errors.
From beginning to end, I was on board with what EA was going for. Grand Slam Tennis is the answer to motion gaming. Up until this point, if I wanted a good motion tennis game, I would still break out Wii Sports Tennis and that’s an original launch title! This game is fun, challenging, and packaged really well to accompany the launch of the Wii Motion Plus. The slightly cartoonish style and the great playing styles and mode choices put this game as easily one of the best ever in the tennis genre.
This was one of the best online games I’ve ever played. I only had a couple of hiccups during play, but it was easy to navigate through the menu and I was connected with other players right away. I would like to see game length options in online matches though, but that is minor. The Party Mode also encourages players to really bring friends and family in to enjoy the various mini games available. I’m not much of a mini-game fan, per se, but I enjoyed playing these.
EA Sports has put out another great sports franchise with Grand Slam Tennis. This is an excellent starting point for this tennis game and will give both hardcore tennis fans and casual gamers a great gameplay experience. There are some weaknesses, but, this is a stellar beginning to any franchise.