There is no doubt that EA produce a great sports game. They put a lot of effort into making their games as realistic as possible, with all the nuance and detail that makes you feel like you are right there playing the sport. No surprise, then, that Grand Slam Tennis 2 is a very accurate and playable Tennis simulation with only a few compromises to ensure playability.
The game supports both standard controllers and Motion Control. For our review we tried both and it was a unanimous vote for the standard controller. Now don't get us wrong; the motion control was well done. You felt like you had a racket in your hand and that it responded to wrist actions for slice, top spin, and lobs. Our trouble was that very soon we were bouncing around the room like we were on the court. Nothing wrong with this but our preference is purely driven by our need to sit down and eat pizza.
The control system for the standard controller, once you have the hang of it, was very good and easy to use. Basic serving is done by hitting the “X” key that brings up a curved power bar. The longer you hold it the more power and steeper the curve. Let it go and try to hit the swing close to the apex of the curve to get the best possible serve.
Volley play is about using the left stick to move and the right stick to make a shot. Forward for a flat shot and flicking left and right to add direction. Other combinations give you slice, spin, and other subtle nuances. It's tricky to start with, but - once you get the hang of it - you can get quite accurate with the system. The real skill is in timing. Just like on the real court, you can do all the fancy strokes you like but if you don't time the racket to the ball it will all go horribly wrong.
This game is a true Grand Slam, as for the first time in a tennis game you get to play on all 4 of the famous tournaments (Wimbledon, Aussie Open, US Open, and the French open). All of the courts are - as far as we can tell - accurately rendered (hey who looks at the court when you are watching tennis). Throw in an animated crowd and you have the beginning of a great playing experience.
You can create your own player or chose from some the current Tennis greats. There are 20 plus to choose from, including: Federer, Nadal, and the Williams sisters. A surprise for us was the inclusion of John McEnroe, the bad boy of tennis. All are very well rendered and animated, and they have managed to pick out a lot of their personal traits, stances, and movements. So much so that, when on court competing against them, it feels like you're up against the actual player.
Bad boy John also hosts the the training section of the game. This proves to be an inspirational decision as he taunts and goads you every step of the way through the tutorial. Although it's a trial, we recommend you complete it just hear John's insults.
There is a slew of play options from singles and doubles, rookie, amateur, pro, career mode, and online play. This is one of the strengths of the EA sports franchise. If you think you are the best, then you can put your racket to the ball and prove it to the world.
What really sold us on the game was the audio. If it wasn't the John McEnroe ear bashing in practice, or the wonderfully choreographed commentary in each match, it was that little bit extra where you have the option to choose your own serving exultation. All are perfectly done and top off what feels like a realistic play experience.
There are some niggles though. Although it was fantastic to see the top players in the game, it would also have been nice to see a heap of duff players as well. Yes, we feel confident that if there were a couple of gray old ladies with wimpy weak settings on all of their character attributes, we would have had an honest chance of winning a game. Also, we did notice that the game was reasonably forgiving on shots out of court and was set to encourage volleys, but this sacrifice of realism we felt made for a better flowing game experience.
Now we are first to admit that we are not the sporting types, and for us tennis is all about short skirts (did we mention these were in the game?), but we found the game easy to get into and challenging enough for us to want to come back for more.
If you are a tennis player and are up for wearing your tight shorts at home, then using the PlayStation Move will provide a reasonable practice session (and scare any visitors). Of the current tennis games on offer, our call is: game, set, and match.