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Those who played the first Grand Slam Tennis title on the Wii in 2009 will realize how starkly different the latest entry in EA Sports’ tennis franchise is. While the former was more about arcady, cartoony fun, Grand Slam Tennis 2 follows suite with FIFA and Madden, EA Sports’ two main franchises, and takes a much more realistic path. And though its a very well made game that succeeds in most of the things it does, it never really manages to reach the lofty heights of other tennis heavyweights such as Top Spin 4 and Virtua Tennis 4.
That doesn’t make Grand Slam Tennis 2 a bad game. It’s an extremely enjoyable, addictive game that will keep you coming back for more sets and matches for some days to come. What Grand Slam Tennis 2 lacks in is the passion that drives forwardthe direct competitor franchise, Top Spin, or any major EA Sports games, for that matter. EA Sports has played it safe with Grand Slam 2. The single player is as bare bones as it can be, with just three modes, all very basic- exhibition, career and tournament. The online mode, while engaging and addictive, has only exhibition and tournaments too. It’s quite obvious that, being EA Sports’ first entry into the tennis simulation– and not arcade- genre, they would have wanted to play it safe, but where are all the quirky modes we expect to see in an EA Sports game? Where is the deep, comprehensive online mode?
While these omissions are glaring and do deal a blow to the experience in a significant way, there are some extremely thrilling pros that tip the balance in favour of the game (somewhat). For starters, for the first time in any tennis video game, Grand Slam Tennis 2 includes all four Grand Slam venues, including the legendary Wimbledon, which is as iconic to the sport as Lords is to cricket or Wembley to football.
EA Sports has once again gone out of the way to get hold of as many licenses as possible, resulting in a rather impressive collection of ATP players and stadiums, not to mention all the sports merchandise (shoes, bands, racquets, etc). Every player from Nadal and Federer to Murray and Hewitt is included in the roster, and you get to play in courts ranging from Roland Garros to, of course, the fabled Wimbledon- all four Grand Slams.
What is not so impressive, however, is the WTA- or female players- roster. The Williams sisters are present, but the only other players included are Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanović. Where is Samantha Stosur? Where is Petra Kvitova? Where is Victoria Azarenka? Not only are these omissions disappointing, the fact that only four players are included in the females roster is a huge blow to the game.
The presentation of the game, though, leaves no stones unturned. If a person enters the room and glances at the screen, they’d think you were watching an actual match. The visuals are extremely good, with very well developed character models (likenesses are amazing) and courts, nice textures and the ESPN branding helps in making the presentation all that much slicker and realistic. Even the menus are slick and stylish. Bearing a strong resemblance to all other major EA Sports titles, the menus do a good job of showing everything that has to be shown. Presentation has always been one of EA Sports’ strongest suites, so this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
The sucky commentary breaks this illusion of a real time tennis match plenty, though. While at first commentators Pat Cash and legend John McEnroe seem to be doing an awesome job of describing and analysing, after just a few games, you realize that the duo doesn’t have much to say, and they keep repeating things over and over again. I can’t tell you how many times I heard McEnroe talk excitedly about going deep. Sound effects do a nice job of building the atmosphere though.
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Total Racquet Control is accurate and impressive; Visuals are great; Outstanding presentation with slick menus and ESPN branding; Licenses of various courts, sports mechandise and players; Wimbledon is included; Fairly accessible; Great roster; Seeing your player rise through the ranks is exciting and a ton of fun
Total Racquet Control can be hard to master; Commentary is boring and bland; Career mode has very little options; Very little modes to play through; Female roster is disappointing; The game can get repetitive and boring sometimes; AI is stupid in the initial stages of the career
Grand Slam Tennis 2 may not be the best game EA Sports has given out in the past few years, and it definitely doesn't have the flair to compete against Top Spin 4, but it still is a very well made game that casuals and hardcores alike can have a lot of fun with.
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