Tennis, it’s a funny old game. Thoughts which come immediately to mind when thinking about it include Wimbledon, Rain, Cliff Richard and Strawberries and Cream. One thought that doesn’t come to mind though is FIFA, which is why EA’s latest, Grand Slam Tennis 2, makes me rethink what I know about this racket based sport.
So why FIFA? Well, think of a sports game which for years has provided unparalleled presentation and options, a game so sleek that it’s as close as you will get to the real thing without heading outside into the real world. So what game are you thinking about? Ah, thought as much. So what has this all got to do with Grand Slam Tennis? Well, its quite simple really, EA’s took what’s great about FIFA and made a tennis game out of it.
As soon as you load up Grand Slam Tennis 2, you will see this comparison for yourself. The menus are so sleek, the options are many. No matter what type of game you want to play, be it a quick single player match, career, a training match or online multiplayer, this game has it covered. It’s got EA Sports quality stamped all over it, and that’s before you even start a game.
The sheer amount of options must be a tennis fans dream; you can create your own tennis player, with details such as sex, looks, clothes and style, all accounted for. You can upload your own face onto your pro, and then if you wish, upload your player for others to download.
Of course, you can just use your pro in the extensive Career Mode, which provides you with a set of objectives over the course of a 10 year career, with the ultimate goal being to win the Grand Slam and become the number one pro in the world. As with other Career Modes in the EA Sports franchise this one is simply packed features. During your career you have ample opportunity to improve your tennis player, be it through the many training exercises, Exhibition matches or the Pre-tournaments, the latter of which will help your tennis player increase in confidence and rank. Playing in practice matches also allows you to earn career points, which in turn can help you to improve your player and unlock new items from the store, such as rackets, tennis shoes and more. Once you are feeling confident you can then head into the main events, working your way through the tournament, choosing how many sets you would like each match to take place over. Obviously the more sets you play, the more career points you will earn.
It has to be said that as soon as you step out onto the court you can see the sheer quality that this game has to offer. The action just looks fantastic, even from a non-tennis fans point of view. Each of the arenas have been recreated to the finest detail, especially Wimbledon, for which EA has an exclusive deal. Everything you’d expect to see is there, be it the fans, ball boys (/girls) or the intricate details on the court itself. The commentary which accompanies the action is also fantastic; it’s fast flowing and professional, always keeping up with the pace and providing insight into the game.
It goes without saying that Grand Slam Tennis 2 has a packed roster. Every tennis player you can imagine is represented, whether you want to play as Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal or the Williams Sisters. You can also play as Legends, so if you want to scream at the commentator for no apparent reason, then you can, thanks to the inclusion of the likes of John McEnroe. Licensed courts include London (Wimbledon), Paris, Australia and New York, while Unlicensed courts from Brighton, Dubai, Geneva and Shanghai are also included. Add to this, the licensed tournaments and more sports branding than you’d see in a JJB sports store, and you can pretty much guarantee you’ll be satisfied with the authenticity on offer.
The presentation would be nothing without the gameplay, but thankfully EA has that covered too. This is thanks to the game’s Total Racquet Control system. Now these ‘buzz words’ may sound like a gimmick, but they are a perfect description for what’s on offer. Basically, Total Racquet Control gives players control of each shot with the right analog stick, allowing you to control the pace, power and direction of your shot, and to me it works perfectly. This is mainly down to the other options for pulling off the perfect shot, for instance, using a combination of the right analogue stick and other buttons, you can smash forehands, backhands, overheads, and volleys your opponents way, forcing them into mistakes so that you can grab those all important points. That’s not to say it’s easy though, as opponents will learn your style, making for some pretty tight games; especially in the later stages of the tournaments. Grand Slam Tennis 2 really is a tennis fans dream video game, and nowhere more so than in the Career Mode.
As well as using standard controls, on the PS3 version you can also use PlayStation Move, which adds a whole new dimension to the game. Thanks to Move, the game becomes that little bit more realistic, due to the sheer accuracy involved. It’s hard to tell which control method is better, however Move is a fantastic option to have and it certainly gives the game an added bonus over the otherwise identical Xbox 360 version.
Like most EA Sports games, the multiplayer is a game in itself, offering you the chance to play one off exhibition matches, ranked matches in a grand slam arena and also play in online tournaments, allowing you to start at the bottom and progress to the very top. As you’d expect the online mode is full of other options too, allowing you to see how your country is performing overall on the leaderboard, while you can also keep track on your own scores and progress.
You can of course, play with friends online and offline, allowing you to choose a doubles partner and take on the opponents of your choice. Playing doubles online is a lot of fun, allowing you and a friend can take on whoever you like, which can make for some interesting games.
It’s hard to argue with EA’s attempt at tennis with Grand Slam Tennis 2. Everything it has learned from the success of FIFA and other franchises which fall under the EA Sports umbrella have been implemented into this game. More importantly, it plays a fantastic, authentic game of tennis! Meaning that this one is most certainly not at fault, in fact it’s Game, Set and Match to EA Sports.
Rating: OutstandingReview Policy(version tested: PS3)
You can order Grand Slam Tennis for PS3 and Xbox 360 from ShopTo.