Yesterday EA launched the new Grand Slam Tennis 2 videogame in Sydney with the help of Australian Wimbledon champion Pat Cash. Hoping to cash (sorry) in on some of the Australian Open hype, EFTM stole a copy from EA to take home and play around with.Stole, was given, really, what difference does it make? OK, we were given a copy then. For the past few years tennis games have been dominated by two series, Sega’s Virtua Tennis and 2K’s Top Spin. Both games include brilliant recreations of players and their exact playing style. Virtua Tennis has more arcade style play, with players being able to catapult themselves at impossible balls while Top Spin stays true to the game, making players plan their points and think about what they are doing. As a former junior tennis player, I’ve always preferred Sega’s cracks at tennis. If I want to play tennis as it’s meant to be played, I’ll get out on a court. Being able to get shots I never would be able to in Virtua Tennis is somewhat liberating.
So where does that leave Grand Slam Tennis 2? Sadly, nowhere really. The positive is that it has the official license for the Grand Slam events – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. It also includes alternative courts to just centre court for each tournament and has a few other locations chucked in for good measure. But really, a tennis court is a tennis court, whether it has Flushing Meadows as the backdrop of a worn out basketball backboard and a highway.
The first disappointment is the player recreation. It’s just not up with Top Spin or Virtua Tennis. If you’re just a monthly court basher who needs a virtual dose now and then, you probably won’t know. But for those who love their tennis, they won’t see accurate mapping of Federer’s killer backhand, Nadal’s amazing top spin forehand or that unique serve of Andy Murray. Shots are different for each player, but sadly they just end up looking generic. We even made Rafa Nadal throw his racquet for losing a game – something we have never seen him do in real life. Perhaps he was as frustrated as us.
Then there are the controls. Its seems to fill the void between arcade and sim. While you can almost get away without thinking about the point when using a controller, you still need to keep a keen eye on the ball. Mis-time the swing and your player will sometimes end up just giving up. Don’t get us started on the motion controls with the PS Move. You can hit forehands for backhands and vice versa while slice and topspin attempts are not recognised by the motion sensing device. You’ll have to use the buttons for that.
In the match itself you will get commentary from legends such as John McEnroe and Pat Cash. McEnroe’s commentary is done well, with his thoughts adding to the gameplay without seeming forced. Cash, on the other hand, just sounds like an infomercial in rerun. None the less, it’s a good attempt by EA.
Another good thing about Grand Slam Tennis 2 is the range of players. Current champs such as Djokovic, Nadal and Sharapova mix well with past champs like Henin and Agassi while legends including Evert, Borg, Sampras, and Edberg are also included. It’s a great way to relive classic players and pit them against current players.
All in all after our first night of play it’s not a game we would recommend for people who love their tennis. Try Top Spin. But if you are simply keen for a quick hit, McEnroe shouting his mouth off and Nadal throwing racquets, Grand Slam Tennis 2 could be for you.
Grand Slam Tennis 2 is available on PS3 or Xbox 360.
Web: Grand Slam Tennis 2