Published on February 23rd, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Grand Slam Tennis 2 Review (PlayStation 3)
Developer: EA Sports (Canada)
Platform: PlayStation 3 [Reviewed]
Release Date: Febr. 14, 2012
I may not be a tennis superstar, but I sure as heck play one in a Grand Slam Tennis 2. EA Sports takes on yet another endeavor into the wide world of athleticism, adding a second match of Grand Slam Tennis to its winning record. So, you might ask, what is the big deal about a tennis game, right?
Looking back to the match of sister vs. sister, when Serena and Venus left it all on the court–sometimes it’s not just about playing tennis. Relive the drama on the court with the ESPN Grand Slam Classics or start out on your own journey-of-tourney triumphs, there is a starting point for any of the endeavors you choose.
Let’s kick off this review with one of the most important aspects to this game, the controls.
Grand Slam Tennis 2 utilizes two different control schemes. On one had you have the in depth standard setup, which brings the left and right thumbstick’s as ball controllers and striking points. The ‘R2’ and ‘L2′ act as your lob and drop shot markers, which is essential not only to this game, but the game of tennis as a whole. It will mark whether you are a defensive net player, or a power hungry slam king. The setup might seem a little bit clumsy at first, but it does however become intuitive and fluid after a few matches.
The second, and most worthwhile, are the PlayStation Move controls. In the efforts of journalistic honesty, I hadn’t owned a PS Move prior to this game. I figured, heh-I’ve played other tennis games on the Nintendo Wii, and c’mon—who hasn’t played Wii Sports?
The PS Move controls were simplistic, but also gave much more in the overall “control” aspect of the game. Meaning, when I wanted to make that precise strike, slice, or drop shot to have my opponent running all over the clay—it was possible. These all court moves lengthened my volley tournaments, but they also tied into my all-court style of play.
The Total Raquet Controls that were set out to bring a real life feel to this EA Sports title. There were even instinctive moves such as holding the racket downward prior to the serve and having my character follow suit with the same movements. It was a great way to show off the ‘Move’s responsiveness, but also to give players a sense of connectivity with their character.
The top ‘PS button could be combo’d with the slice swing, while a top heavy hammer motion from the ‘Move controller was a great response to a head on lob shot from an opponent. If you have ever watched a tennis match live, whether in person or on TV, it might help you out in this game. If you can recall the movement, or at least the motions of a serve, then you should have no problem serving with the motion controller.
The ‘T’ button is used to give you a measurement of the peak of your serve, allowing you to see on a HUD when you should time your strike. Players can also simply use the motions without the HUD to do the same. This helps when ironing out the games learning curve and making use of the “good,” “late,” and “early” notifications. The crowd was also an indicator of how the match was shaping up by occasionally getting rowdy during heated volleying.
The majority of the game was aesthetically pleasing. From the subtle crowd uproars during tense moments of the match, to the scrapes of rackets and shoes on the hard courts—the game did bring “most” of the immersive details to the showcase floor. The customization of the game did see a lighter character editor and utilized many name brands in making your tennis look authentic. From Nike, to Dunlop, and Prince attire–there was quite selection especially after unlocking more from beating certain opponents. Although these were great, there were still some areas where I think the team should have had more involvement for the overall authenticity tie in.
Long tournaments left for a grueling set of matches in order to become victorious in hefty brackets. Players can choose a quick set of three games, three sets and three games, or the long option of six sets and six games. It was during this time that I noticed the lack of conversation choices that the announcers had.
McEnroe began to repeat the same lines regarding your players’ performance towards the tense endings of a match. During Match Point, I noticed the same lines being repeated at each sitting. The same went for Pat Cash and his comment of “Should he go for the lines, or play safely?” I had shrugged it off at first, but then it became repetitious and somewhat annoying over journeys through my tennis career.
Something that also caught my eye during these matches was also something not pertaining to the gameplay itself. The ballkid’s are the people you see lined up in a crouched position on each side of the net during a match. Their job is to grab loose tennis balls after they strike the net, or bounce around the court. While it was great to see them interacting with the volley’s by turning their heads and following the ball, that was pretty much the extent of their use. It would have been cool to see them run out every now and then, even if it was during a replay or cut-scene.
Although we might not find the movements of the ballkid’s to be accurate, we do find that the introduced P.R.O AI does bring in real player moves. From the racket roll of Sampras, to the identifiable stance of Federer, the end result is impressive. Even so, the game’s opponent AI does feel a bit clunky and not as challenging as I would have hoped, and doesn’t pick up until later in the career. They also did not prepare me for those intense online matches where I got schooled faster than a freshman at a fraternity party.
The online modes are standard, but also test your skills in a few ways. There are singles, doubles, and the Grand Slam Corner–which hosts leaderboard’s for reign of an arena. Most of my time was spent in the single ranked matches, but it also showed me that a player with a PS Move controller could play as evenly with a player using a standard controller. From ball placement to strategic running backhands, it was great to see that both could survive in online harmony.
The online modes are insanely fun and will get you out of your chair thinking you are an all-star athlete. It drove me to scream aloud at the loss of a tense match, but I didn’t throw my racket to show good sportsmanship.
With a few follies, the Grand Slam Tennis 2 did shine in other creative areas. The sound effects–such as the racket scraping the court, or the screeching sounds of tennis shoes on the sticky pavement–were some of the best. The first time the crowd grew restless while anticipating my final serve is still one of the standout moments of the game.
Grand Slam Tennis 2 on the PlayStation 3 does have the upper hand out of all the consoles it released on. The controls give it a real tennis feel utilizing the PS Move by far should be the better choice if you do in fact own both consoles. The lack of commentator selection, and limited interactivity with the arenas do hoewever impede the game from being an over-the-top smash-hit.
+ PS Move Controls (Fun factor)
+ Online Multiplayer
+ Authentic Arena’s
+/– AI (Player and Characters)
– Game Depth