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Grand Slam Tennis 2 Review


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On 02/29/2012 at 12:00 PM by Rob DiMola

EA's Total Control mechanics come to Tennis.
RECOMMENDATION:

Those intrigued by the Total Control mechanics should at least give this a shot with a rental.

Grand Slam Tennis began life exclusively on the Nintendo Wii. While versions were planned for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, they were delayed indefinitely, giving players the choice of only the cartoonish, less realistic version of the game. This year, EA has taken it to a new level with Grand Slam Tennis 2, which offers a much more serious game, complete with a new presentation and control scheme.

In part of achieving a more realistic tennis title, EA has done their due diligence in licensing players to appear in the game. Nearly everyone notable is available, allowing players to choose from the likes of Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and star, John McEnroe. In fact, John McEnroe is the co-commentator in the game during match play. All of these athletes have been expertly created in digital form – their play style, tendencies, and movements are all spot on. The game's excellent animation helps showcase these subtleties. There are very few instances where the tennis stars will make unnatural movement towards the ball. Clean hits and proper and consistent speed help make for a pleasant experience.

Despite its clean outward appearance, Grand Slam Tennis 2's gameplay isn't quite there. That's not to say that it's particularly bad, but it has trouble stacking up to some of the competing tennis games on the market today. This is due in large part to the new control scheme that requires players to use the right analog stick to serve and hit the ball – Total Racket Control. Though EA Sports has made a huge push for total control features in all of their new sports games this year, here it doesn't seem like it was the right decision.

You push forward for flat shots, pull back for slices and flick forward for top-spin. Along with all of this, the direction you push them in determines the direction of the ball. Learning to use these controls well enough takes hours of training. A training academy, guided by John McEnroe, takes you through each motion, one step at a time. McEnroe is a harsh trainer, tasking you with hitting the ball perfect, from the proper position. Needless to say, you'll mess up quite frequently, but this strict training becomes useful as it will allow you to make better slices and stronger hits during match play.

After learning the controls, it becomes apparent that it's almost impossible to hit the ball out of play during a match. It seems that as long as you make contact, the ball will almost always stay within the boundaries of the court. As such, it makes the total racquet control training feel like a waste.

Given the various types of hits in a tennis game, the Total Control option doesn't feel like the right choice. It has worked great in EA's other series, but here, it makes the game somewhat difficult to enjoy. Often, I found my player swinging either way too late or way too early, which provided the bulk of my frustration. Thankfully, you can take use of a button to hit the ball, subverting the intended control scheme – I found myself using it more and more because I could more accurately hit the ball.

Another problem I found is that sometimes your player will automatically move for the ball, which slightly diminishes the Total Control features, as you clearly don't have total control when this happens.

Despite the less traditional controls, Grand Slam Tennis 2 maintains the basic singles and doubles exhibition mode, along with a career mode. With no modes out of the ordinary, it's mostly a dry experience. Career Mode tournaments are long and boring, and the repetitive commentary from the announcer makes the experience feel even drier. A bit more creativity, like what's seen in Virtua Tennis and Mario Tennis would've gone a long way.

Grand Slam Tennis 2 in spite of its numerous flaws is still fun to play in small doses. At its budget price, it's not a terrible purchase, but you'd be better off spending the extra cash and grabbing the latest version of Top Spin.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

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