A New Ace On The Court
Ever since the Wii came out, tennis games and motion controls have been fated to keep crossing paths. This is the case with the original Grand Slam Tennis, which, unfortunately, was mostly a waggle fest back in the days when waggle fests were still getting all the publicity. However, the allure of motion controls has faded, so Grand Slam Tennis needed to step up its game for its next iteration.
EA decided to focus on the thing that sets sports games apart from each other the most: the gameplay. Since Grand Slam Tennis 1 focused primarily on giving you a case of Tennis elbow in your living room, Grand Slam Tennis 2 needed something equally as interesting but with a little less fatigue associated with it. Their solution was to use the analog sticks in a way that you might expect in an MMA game rather than a tennis game. Strangely enough, it works.
The new system is called “Total Racket Control,” and it essentially changes up the swings you use based on the direction and force of flicks of the analog sticks. This gives you the strange feeling of swinging a tennis racket with your thumbs, which is actually quite satisfying. Intelligently, EA decided to leave traditional button-triggered controls in the game as well, and you can use both control sets in the middle of a match. Believe it or not, this actually makes you a better player. Leisurely swinging with the analog stick has a nice feel to it during volleys, but when it comes time to panic your first instinct is to mash a button and hope for the best. When you get to high levels of play, you will find yourself comfortably moving your thumb from the stick to the face buttons and back with relative ease. It’s a really interesting innovation that works well for its game genre, and I applaud EA for trying something new and succeeding at it.
That being said, the game does actually include a motion control option through the PS Move, and it is simultaneously one of the best and worst motion control schemes out there. In terms of accuracy, the game has the tennis feel down. You have to put real power behind your swings and tiny twists of the wrist will send your ball flying in the wrong direction. If you are looking for a sort of virtual reality tennis simulator, then this is exactly what you are looking for.
On the other hand, most gamers aren’t professional tennis players. When you played Grand Slam Tennis 1 on the Wii, or even Nintendo’s own Wii Sports Tennis, you could basically just flick your wrist to get the type of shot you wanted. Well, it was a little more involved than that, but it was basically still a controller when all was said and done. Grand Slam Tennis 2 on the Move is definitely not as lazy as its older brother. Learning to use the motion controls is essentially learning how to play Tennis, and this means that many of us will get frustrated with the Move controls rather quickly. Besides, the new control scheme feels just as good and your arm won’t be sore in the morning.
That being said, tennis aficionados will find this game to be a real treat. EA must have spent a fortune in licensing fees because you can play pretty much any modern day tennis great. Venus Williams is in, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and more! Of course, if you would rather see yourself in the game, you can always create a player, go into career mode, and be well on your own path toward a virtual tennis career.
Career mode is actually where I had the most fun with this game. Being able to create your own rising tennis star (especially using EA’s online Game Face tools) is a lot of fun. The stats have a suitable RPG feel to them and managing your player’s progress gives you reason to come back to the game when no one else is around to play.
Unfortunately, there are a few flaws. First of all, the game does get a little repetitive. It doesn’t feel like the playstyles of your A.I. vary enough to seem as if you are actually playing different opponents. Second of all, it’s easy. On the base difficulty you can fly through your matches with relative ease, In fact, I would say that the difficulty curve is the biggest downfall of this game. A.I. opponents are either too easy or too hard, and there is absolutely nothing in between.
Grand Slam Tennis 2’s graphics are a big improvement over its predecessor on the Wii. Animations are smooth, models are realistic, and even the crowd has this vibrancy to it that accurately simulates a professional tennis match.
And speaking of realism, there is advertising all over this game. From the ESPN logo being absolutely everywhere to the bank logos that plaster the court walls, this game has all the rampant ad pushes that a normal ESPN tennis match would have.
In the end, Grand Slam Tennis 2 is a competently put together tennis game that stands up to competitors such as FIFA and Virtual tennis. It’s fun, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and it has just enough features to keep you coming back for more. If you are a tennis fan, you’ll gush over the realism, and if you are a more casual sports game player, you’ll simply enjoy the brand new control scheme which is easily the game’s biggest selling point. If I really needed to nitpick, I’d say that the lack of Kinect compatibility with the Xbox version is a little annoying considering the PS3 version is compatible with the PS Move. However, after I complained about the PS Move controls practically requiring me to be a pro tennis player to use, wishing for Kinect compatibility strikes me as slightly hypocritical.
Here’s my final word on the game: As someone who is admittedly not a tennis fan, I enjoyed my time with Grand Slam Tennis 2. That being said, it won’t convert me into a tennis fanatic, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone other than existing tennis fans. However, if you just so happen to be a tennis aficionado and you want an alternative to some of the other tennis games on the market, Grand Slam Tennis does just fine.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.9 Graphics
Grand Slam Tennis 2’s graphics are far better than the outdated graphics of its Wii counterpart. 4.2 Control
The new and innovative control scheme is probably the best part of this game. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The announcers are quite annoying and get far too repetitive for their own good. 3.7 Play Value
There is quite a bit of replay value in career mode, but you’ll still want to primarily play against other people. 3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best