The sequel to Electronic Arts’ Grand Slam Tennis, released only on Nintendo Wii, is finally available on Xbox and Playstation. Next-gen console players can take centre stage at the world’s four Grand Slams. Previously, tennis lovers were limited in this genre, due to the lack of titles, leaving players to choose between Sega’s Virtua Tennis or 2K’s Top Spin.
While the first game made use of the Wii’s control system, EA decided to introduce a different scheme for Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Apart from the standard configuration of analogue sticks for movement and buttons for different shots, EA introduced their Total Racquet Control systems.
With Total Racquet Control players have greater control over their player and his/her shots, as the analogue sticks are used to aim the ball and select different strokes. For example, a Top Spin serve is performed by pulling the stick back to the lower right, and then pushing it up in the direction of the serve. The same principle applies to all on-court shots. The other shots that make use of the triggers, are the modifiers for drop shots and lobs.
It is not perfect, but the system provides players various suitable control schemes. It tends to be easier to serve with Total Racquet Control and then to complete the match using the face buttons.
An added bonus for PlayStation 3 players, Grand Slam Tennis 2 also uses the Move peripheral — in addition to the normal controller. The Move allows players control over their shots, aiming it down the line or placing it in the centre of the court with a well-timed slice.
The graphics are superb, appealing and the level of detail is good. The faithful recreation of real-world champions missed the unique mannerisms of some, but their physical appearance is spot on. It is not fatal, but fine-tweaking would have given the game more personality. Professional players include Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Björn Borg, Maria Sharapova, the Williams sisters and John McEnroe.
The same can be said for the on-court commentary, while sufficient, it lacks edge. Commentary is provided courtesy of tennis legends John McEnroe and Pat Cash, which is a nice pace of change, but it can become a bit repetitive.
The speech is insightful yet generic, but on the odd occasion they will say something irrelevant to the shot being played. Commentary has always been a bit of a tricky thing to get right in sports games, as developers can never predict what the user will do.
In terms of replayability, the game features a Quick Match section where gamers can jump right into the action. It also sports a Career section where players can build up their reputation and compete in the four tennis Majors from around the world.
Using EA’s Game Face, players will be able to create their own tennis star, crafting all the skills and adding unique clothing — some of which need to be unlocked in Career mode. While fun, players start at a disadvantage, making things difficult starting out.
The game’s online multiplayer function allows gamers to test their skills against other players. Since it is an EA sports game, the lobby and subsequent actions have all been streamlined to look and function identical to EA’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12, NHL and FIFA franchise.
Grand Slam Tennis 2 is currently one of the best tennis games on the market. The latest Virtua Tennis and Top Spin 4, released a while ago, still have nothing on this iteration. The graphics are great, the likeness is spot on and the controls are very easy to learn.
Players might feel the action is repetitive after playing for a number of hours, but it is a great game to have in the collection. It does have its small niggles here and there, but players will find it easy to overlook them and have tons of fun.
Our score: 8.5/10
Charlie Fripp – Online Editor