Grand Slam Tennis 2
The first Grand Slam Tennis, which was released about two years ago on the Wii, made most of an impression thanks to a playful style. Sequel Grand Slam Tennis 2 now arrives on X360 and PS3 and wants to be more serious. Let’s see whether it’s good enough to compete with well-known franchises like Top Spin or Virtua Tennis.
What immediately gets noticed, only seconds after putting the disc in the tray and being welcomed by the start menu, is that EA has used their well-known style from other sports games like FIFA and Madden. It looks tight, but does the gameplay follow that same level?
Well, thanks to the cooperation with ESPN you get immersed in a true television atmosphere while you get the opportunity to play with all current and former top players from the circuit (Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, but also McEnroe, Borg and Sampras) of just with your own virtual self of course. Pat Cash and McEnroe take care of the commentary, but just like with FIFA you’ve heard just about all comments there are and head towards the mute button.
What EA has in mind to make the game stand out of the crowd is the Total Racket Control. Gamers with less patience can still go for the button-bashing approach, but with TRC EA gives a new challenge by means of using the right stick for perfectly controlling how and where you’ll hit that yellow ball. The training academy mode learns you how to use this technique, and that with great vocal support from your teacher, the legendary McEnroe (the man is a bit too central on the box). Through his trainings you learn how to do a top spin or slice ball, and how you place that exactly in the corner of the field you had in mind. Quite the change if you’re used to just play with buttons, but it does give some added replay value. And that’s necessary as in career mode the feeling of repetition kicks in pretty quickly.
When you create a new player you get a relatively low rating of 35 and you have to take on noble unknowns with ratings of 50, and later on also players that are more towards 80. “Damn, I’ll have to practise quite a few seasons”, I hear you thinking, but nothing is less true. A bit of logical thinking and hitting the ball back in a clever way and in no time you’re champion. The whole idea of learning how to play tennis and grow in the world quickly gets undermined.
Your opposition get quickly gets turned to shreds in the standard settings. In your first year as upcoming talent you can easily win four Grand Slams – if you stay concentrated you can even do this without losing too many games even – and also win the four additional tournaments on your name. Yes, in total there’s only eight tournaments, something that isn’t a lot.
Next to generic players and current top hitters you also get the legends which means you can suddenly end up in the quarter finals against Boris Becker. Just to give an example. A nice additiona but not very realistic. Another fun feature is that these top players have their own style, EA made sure the characteristic moves of Nadal, Sharapova and so on were respected as much as possible, something that does add to the realism of Grand Slam 2.
Another positive are the ESPN Classics, legendary games or sets you get to replay with some additional challenges like “hit five aces” or “score three times with a smash”. You start with the legendary matches from the years 2000 and through point you gain here you get to replay games from the 70s, 80s and 90s of the previous century. End most of those well and you can fight it out in hypothetical legendary games like for instance a duel McEnroe – Federer in the finals of Wimbledon.
Also online this game is quite fun. You take on others in different types of games, going from single matches to entire tournaments. If you delve deeper into the career mode you can use your virtual self here, but we found it easier to use people like Djokovic or Murray. You can even download each other’s players so that some top ones that aren’t standard in the game have already made the roster thanks to some fans.
EA Grand Slam Tennis 2 isn’t the top when it comes to tennis games. Top Spin and Virtua Tennis don’t immediately have to fear they suddenly get pushed aside, but we wouldn’t suggest them to take it easy either. The positive points of the game are pushed back just a bit much by the downpoints. Controls and realism are good but things get a bit too repetitive too fast, and that especially in the career mode. No top title, but a rather simple snack.