Review: Grand Slam Tennis 2
Grand Slam Tennis 2, a six hour Djokovic versus Nadal Grand Slam final or a volley to the net? I guess that's the most important question we'll face during our look at EA's latest tennis title for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
- Worth The Time?Yes.
- Things LovedSimplicity of being able to play with minimal controls while still offering depth, great matches, the player pool, the uniqueness behind each player, and the detail of the game and graphics.
- Things HatedThe commentary, the Career mode and the loading times.
- RecommendationSomeone looking to play a fun sports game which isn't FIFA. It's a game where you don't need to think, but rather do.
- Name: Grand Slam Tennis 2
- Genre: Sports
- Players: 1+
- Multiplayer: Yes, 2+
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
- Developer: EA Canada
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Price: R500+
- Reviewed On: PlayStation 3
What do you serve but not eat? A tennis ball.
After that line, things can only get better. And you know what, with Grand Slam Tennis 2 they will get better. It’s a great release from Electronic Arts, albeit under the radar.
From the first load of the disc you’re questioning what you’re doing. Once you’ve started the first Exhibition game you’re quickly trying to learn the keys to beat your opponent, who is probably ranked far lower than you. Because you want to win with ease, first time round.
And you should. I mean, you should do this.
Don’t be scared of the game because you lost the first match. Grand Slam Tennis 2 is so much more than that. It’s a game which can keep you going for hours, a game which will keep pushing you to try new things and play the best shot possible. It’s realistic and excellent fun.
Due to the fact that Grand Slam Tennis 2 is played by a single player — no team involved — it makes it a lot more personal, and a bit shallow. There’s only so much one can do, but not even that ideology is limiting.
Getting down to the basics, it’s a game of tennis. You’re required to hit a ball over a net with a racquet. Every time you hit the ball and it lands inside the perimeter of the court, your opponent should hit it back. If he doesn’t you will get a point. Or 15 points.
If he hits it back, you return the favour. And that’s how it goes.
When you, inevitably, hit the ball out you will lose the round offering your opponent one, or 15, points. Note, the points are illustrative, as there’s a system. We’re not going to get into the system though. Tennis is tennis — and that’s the basics.
From the above, it seems really simple. There’s just no possibility for depth, is there?
Well, that’s where it gets interesting. The type of shot as well as the timing of the shot is absolutely crucial. Not to mention, your placement on the court when you take and receive the shot is a major issue.
With Grand Slam Tennis 2 there’s various types of shots: a quick tap, a slice shot and a top spin shot. All of these shots can be controlled with with buttons — if you are lazy — or by using the right analogue for perfect control, placement and direction. The analogue function is new, and welcomed, to Grand Slam Tennis 2, where PlayStation Move is also supported.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of the shots, you move to adding power to the shot, which you can do by pulling the analogue downwards for longer in anticipation of the shot. And while it sounds simple, it isn’t.
It’s a straight forward game, but timing is everything. If you decide to play your next shot (by moving the analogue) as soon as your opponent hits the ball, you will hit it back, but it will not be as powerful, nor will it have as much spin. It might not even be in the right direction.
To win games and master the art of tennis, you need to keep moving and time your shots down to perfection. You need to move the analogue at the correct time to get maximum power and maximum spin and a good direction which puts your opponent on the back foot.
And that’s the basics of playing a shot. Your placement on the court is another major factor.
Do you stand at the back, in a defensive position waiting for the ball or do you push up to the net and play quick shots in opposite directions to make your opponent run? Well, that’s a pertinent factor to think about.
If you stand at the back you can get more power and often hit the ball in the air over your opponent if he’s nearby the net. Or, you can hit it slowly if he is far away.
But, the leading fact on placement is that you need to be standing in the right spot to hit the ball back as fast and as hard as possible. The further you stand the more power you can conjure. On the other hand, however, if you stand nearby you can hit it in opposite directions making it really easy to win.
On amateur modes, standing at the net hitting in opposite directions makes for an easy way to win. The tougher modes makes it seriously difficult. The other player knows how to counter you, and when you learn to play your shots correctly you’ll have a great battle on your hands.
That’s what I was getting at in the beginning. There’s such simplicity, but yet it’s complex at the same time. It’s something worth learning and worth practicing, as the game is tremendously fun when you’re having long battles for points. Winning and losing, round after round.
Once you’ve completed exhibition mode with full understanding, you can try doubles. Doubles is essentially a whole new game, once again. You need to learn to play with someone standing in front of you, or behind you. You need to actually trust that the person in front of you will hit the ball whenever they can. You need to move opposite to them, if you’re at the back. If you’re in the front, and you cannot hit the ball, you need to hope your teammate can. Once they do, you need to make sure you’re placed correctly in case the opponent has a quick return. Essentially, you’ll be starting your placement practice over, however this time you’ll have knowledge on shots and how the game works.
And, if you didn’t understand any of the above, there’s a chance to go to Tennis School or to Practice on the Court — in game.
Grand Slam Tennis 2 is definitely dynamic and it offers a lot of action. The game is replayable time after time, and is always fun. Especially when you win.
Once you’ve completed your practice in Exhibition mode (because practice and tutorials are for girls), you can start your Career. And this is unfortunately the most upsetting part of the game. It feels very shallow, with tournaments and practice events. Basically, you need to practice before each tournament, where if you complete the practice successfully you can better yourself before entering the tournament. If you screw your practice up, you’ll enter the tournament as bad as you were before the practice event started. This is the only way to rack up skills for your play. Winning means nothing, it seems.
The career tournaments have you play a sick amount of games, before playing in the final. That’s the fun part. Playing tennis.
Career mode feels like a gimmick more than anything else. The players are customisable, where certain racquets and items are locked. You need to unlock these by playing the game. As if you weren’t going to play anyway.
And here’s another problem: the load times in the game are horrid. To load a peak for your head, to keep the sun out, takes a while. It’s not even CPU or graphic intensive material, but it yet takes a while. This kills Career mode even more.
The next mode available is ESPN Grand Slam Classics which is where you can play a legendary game from the past, like the two Williams sisters against each other. Great games from the past, which you can replay for your own amusement.
Tournament mode follows this, and it’s the standard feature which allows you to create your own tournament with brackets and knock out. If you have friends over, this is the way you go. A winner will be chosen at the end of the evening.
Commentary in the game is a joke. Most of the time the commentators repeat old facts, or the same facts in the same game. It becomes repetitive and tiresome, almost as if EA only had an hour with the guys to record phrases. And they had microphone problems for the first 46 minutes.
Following this, the players. Grand Slam Tennis 2 offers a great variety of players — all of which are well known. There’s male and female athletes, all of which use their kit from when they were superstars. For example, older players from the 1960’s, and so on, will use wooden racquets. A nice touch of variation and uniqueness, trying to make the game feel more real.
EA Sports’ Grand Slam Tennis 2 features online play too, and this includes online leaderboards, Grand Slam corner, My Tennis Online and the ability to play exhibition matches.