Grand Slam Tennis 2 Review
When Grand Slam Tennis debuted on the Nintendo Wii a while back, we saw potential for a possible new series from EA Sports, one that focused on the fundamentals of the sport, while remaining accessible enough for mainstream gamers to “get it”, without needing to study the history of the sport to gain an understanding of how it works. This experiment must’ve paid off for the company, as we now have the sequel across newer platforms, primarily the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Once more, EA has brought it’s a-game to tennis development, and though Grand Slam Tennis 2 isn’t nearly as accessible as, say, Sega’s Virtua Tennis series, it still has more than enough caveats to make it worth recommending if you’re into the sport.
Like most products these days, Grand Slam Tennis 2 divides itself into two primary categories – single player and multiplayer. In single player, you’ll make your way through the Career Mode, either with a pre-chosen pro or one that you build from the somewhat robust create-a-superstar mode, playing through Wimbledon and other tournaments and eventually facing the likes of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe as you prove your legacy. As tennis tours go, this one’s not bad, though the difficulty can be off at times. One minute you’re coasting and serving up aces; the next, you’re pulling off diving swings just to keep the ball in play. Some consistency would’ve been a plus here.
Then there’s multiplayer, and it’s here that we think you’ll really earn your tennis chops. The online mode features a variety of options for your tennis experience, and lets you find a match with ease. Tournaments are available, or you can get into a casual match if you prefer to work your way up to that level. Statistics for whatever you do in a match – win, lose, cry to the ref McEnroe style – are kept track of, so you can see how you’re faring. Do good enough and you’ll earn some respectful matches against big-time players, with the option to prove yourself.
Winning or losing, you’re able to earn upgrades that help you bulk up your player’s performance, without the need to turn to unnatural drugs or – worse yet – uncontrollable ego. It’s here that you really get to deepen your character and make them better, providing Grand Slam Tennis 2 with a wealth of replay value. All you need to do is get over the hump of unpredictable difficulty and you’re set to go.
Grand Slam Tennis 2’s gameplay offers the best of everything, pretty much. The player movement and ball detection are almost natural, so you rarely miss an incoming ball unless you’re out of its range. Furthermore, you can hit back by using either the analog stick or the buttons on the controller, however you choose. Analog stick movements feel natural over time, but if you’re nervous about so much flicking, simply tap away on the buttons. The PS3 version also has Move options available, for those of you who are into motion control.
Presentation does come up short in a couple of areas. While some of the player models are excellent and the venues quite realistic, other character types appear unfinished. Also, some of the menu screens look a bit iffy, lacking in style for the most part. Fortunately, you can breeze right through them. The audio isn’t bad, with great crowd noises and effects you’d normally hear in a tennis game. However, the running commentary by Pat Cash and John McEnroe is a “love-it-or-hate-it” set-up, as they often repeat themselves and sound a slight bit out of place. Still, we’ve heard worse commentary set-ups. At least they try to stay on topic.
If we had to choose between EA’s Grand Slam Tennis 2 and Sega’s Virtua Tennis, we’d have to go with the latter, only because of better familiarity. But that doesn’t mean EA’s game doesn’t have a place on the market. There’s more than enough appealing content here, especially in the multiplayer and character building. Gameplay works reasonably well too, with numerous options to make you feel right at home. If you’re a fan of the sport, definitely give it a swing.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]