OXCGN’s 2 Review
Not Quite An Ace
©2012 Arthur Kotsopoulos
Hot off the tail of the Australian Open, EA, looking to keep the tennis fever running, have released Grand Slam Tennis 2, featuring legends of the sport as well as current top players in the circuit.
Giving the player the ability to take Hewitt all the way to winning the Australian Open crushing Novaks dream of having a perfect calender year winning all 4 majors, Grand Slam Tennis 2 establishes itself in-between the Top Spin and Virtual Tennis franchises.
Grand Slam Tennis 2 implements the game play style of Virtua Tennis yet maintaining that sim-like Top Spin feeling with attributes taking effect on player abilities.
It’s been a long time since a tennis game has been released with any emphasis on single and multiplayer, and Grand Slam Tennis 2 seems to hit a few unforced errors in doing so.
Career mode is the obvious bulk of the game where you take your created character on a ten year journey winning grand slams, rising up the ranks and increasing attributes such as speed, fitness, power, netplay etc…
Not without fault
Here’s where I find my first fault with Grand Slam Tennis 2, in that its training regime doesn’t seem technical or difficult with the simplest of tasks such as hitting a ball in a square four times, or running back to the baseline, will increase certain attributes of your created player.
I understand that it’s trying to be more like a simulation rather than arcade representation of the game, yet the training component of any sports game is usually the one that you spend the most time on when rising through the ranks, and Grand Slam Tennis 2‘s training is way too easy and simple.
Which brings me to the game’s second fault: with games such as UFC Undisputed, the lead up to the main event usually consists of a few weeks’ worth of training, followed by resting up, then competing in the match; however, with Grand Slam Tennis 2 you follow the same routine.
The routine consists of:
- Complete 1 training match
- Play an exhibition match
- Compete in a pre-tournament
- Compete in the major tournament
You do this exhausting routine for ten straight years, never really adding any variety, and it gets extremely monotonous for my liking. Sure, they vary it up by introducing objectives within each match; however, after you play two matches each objective repeats itself.
The same goes for the lacking soundtrack and commentary between John McEnroe and Pat Cash. I had to mute the commentary between these two because I couldn’t handle listening to the exact same dialogue match after match.
An easy fix for a simple problem, which made playing more bearable. At the end of the day, though, the commentary was the least of my problems.
Regardless of whether I’d just started playing or had been for three hours straight, it left me confused because there’s not much happening on the screen apart from both players running and hitting the ball, so this was a concern because I’m using my Xbox 360 Slim which has run everything else perfectly.
You’re the best around
This in turn brings me to the better part of career mode: rising through the ranks, swiftly going through any player in the circuit the game has to throw at you. Beating the likes of Nadal in the French Open finals or once again denying Murray a chance at his first grand slam title in any grand slam finals is a thrill like none other.
Grand Slam Tennis 2 shines in that the game has captured the playing style and look of each player perfectly; from the way that Federer hits his backhands, to Nadal’s stance whilst waiting to receive a serve, they’re still pretty life-like despite certain movements feeling a bit robotic.
Unforced errors are more common playing on higher difficulties so placement is key.
Use dropshots to draw your opponent in and hit them with a passing shot for the point’ use the slice to recover from a cross court shot so you can set up the backhand down the line; of all these strategic shots matter and it’s why I love this game.
Making sure that you compete each simple training session and that you’ve obtained as many points via the in game objectives as possible is key, as they unlock new rackets to use within career mode.
Legen – wait for it – Dary
From Pete Sampras, considered the greatest of the sport, to Justine Henin, considered one of the greatest female tennis players of her generation, any tennis aficionado will enjoy what Grand Slam Tennis 2 has to offer in this department.
With the ESPN Grand Slam Classic mode, players have the ability to play matches from the last three decades, either relieving these moments in tennis or re-writing history and upsetting the fan favourite.
What I enjoyed most about this is that each match starts at crucial moments, either throwing you into the fray during a tie break or half-way through a set, never making you having to start the match from the beginning.
The ESPN Grand Slam Classic mode alone is roughly four to six hours worth of gameplay, giving eager fans more incentive to purchase the game if they’re itching for a tennis fix.
Game, Set & Match
With the fundamentals already in place, EA need to spend less time trying to create the same slick menus as the FIFA and NHL franchises, and focus more on restructuring career mode, making it more engaging and fun in the process.
Undoubtedly, the transition from Grand Slam Tennis on the Wii to its sequel being on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 may have been a little difficult to perfect, so it’s evident that Grand Slam Tennis 2 is only the precursor to much better things.