Review: Grand Slam Tennis 2

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

 

Price: 49.99
Format: PS3 (tested), Xbox 360
Developer: EA
Publisher: EA

The game of tennis was one of the first sports to be replicated in electronic form, with the seminal Pong in 1972. Although it didn't get near to the chess-like complexity of the sport, in its essence, Pong was a battle of two players hitting a moving object back and forth, each vying for the dominance of an arena.

With a name so synonymous with sport, it was a surprise that a gaming monolith such as EA took so long to enter the market with Grand Slam Tennis, long after rivals had established successful franchises.

GST debuted on the Wii in 2009, with a more stylistically caricatured approach to the game. Where it innovated was in the implementation of the Wii Motion Plus, allowing for more realistic racket movement, an astute move by EA, given the popularity of Wii Sports’ tennis mini-game.

With Grand Slam Tennis 2, EA are offering another innovation to the tennis game genre, with the use of the right analogue stick to control shots. This dynamic is now ubiquitous in most EA sports titles, elevating the gameplay of most in the process. This is no different in GST2, and the stick proves to be very enjoyable to play with (particularly for topspin shots which require a down-up movement of the stick), although it offers no advantage over using the standard buttons or the PS Move.

If anything, the stick is more prohibitive than both other control methods because it’s harder to find angles, and it's easy to completely miss the ball all together when executing a slice. It's a pity because EA have potentially introduced a great control method; an expansion on Top Spin 4's service dynamic which gives the user a comfortable synergy with holding a racket and manoeuvring a shot. This could have been further elaborated with the PS Move controller, but again it's hit and miss, with attempts at slices and topspins being misread as different types of shot.

The flawed controlled scheme extends to the drop shot button, which does not offer the subtle advantage of the shot. On the contrary, it actually gives your opponent and advantage, allowing them to sprint to the net a whip a winner across court. Many tennis games are maligned due to the advantage of net play; GST2 follows in this inglorious tradition.

Every AI opponent, whether they be a defensive baseliner like Nadal or a serve-volleyer like Edberg, rushes to the net after just a few shots from the back of the court. The formulaic nature soon becomes jarring and what's more, a passing shot or lob rarely works against this net play. It just allows your opponent to smash the ball into the hoardings or into the line judges who regularly fail to flinch, even with a ball about to smash them in the face. They're obviously made of tougher stuff than the programming.

In terms of presentation GST2 carries EA's usual sheen of quality but does not impress as much as other EA titles. Although the game has the Wimbledon licence, the buzz surrounding the tournament is never truly realised. Crowds sound flat and the epic rallies do not generate Top Spin 4's crowd histrionics.

As to be expected from EA, there are some nice little touches, like Nadal indulging in some crotch fiddling between points or Federer anxiously twiddling his racket when receiving a serve. It's a pity some of these are not extended to every player (I'm yet to see a game that recreates Becker's back bending serve) and the animations for a slice are no different to a flat or top spin shot. This means the likes of Murray and Djokovic hit two-handed backhand slices, which looks odder than Nadal rearranging his water bottles.

Another innovation is the inclusion of John McEnroe and Pat Cash offering full-on commentary. It's good in theory but annoying in practice, especially when you've heard Pat Cash say “great passing shot mate” for the 50th time. After a couple of games in, I was half expecting Cash's clichéd script to add “let's throw a shrimp on the Barbie” or “pass us a tinny mate” but sadly it didn't come. Cash's annoyances aside, commentary, sometimes insightful, is not a bad first attempt for the genre. I have every confidence in EA making it far superior for future titles… as long as they don't hire Andrew Castle anyway.

The career mode is solid; not as exhaustive as Top Spin 4, although better than Virtual Tennis' board game facade. It's filled with challenges, warm-up tournaments, training and Grand Slams, but the sense of progression is neutered by the formulaic gameplay. At lower levels, players just don't hit the ball when it's in direct proximity, but at the higher levels the game is dogged by the predictability which alas forms the fabric of GST2.

Despite a notable number of failings, GST2 is an enjoyable addition to the heritage, more so when played with the right stick replicating racket strokes. Against a mate or online it manages to break free of its tennis-by-numbers feel to a certain extent, and I am excited at what the next incarnation of the franchise will bring.

What makes Top Spin 4 great is the nuanced differences between each player, in their attributes and variety of shot, and the inclusion of an ‘inside-out’ shot button is a greater innovation to gameplay than anything in GST2. The two remind me of once huge void between Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA, and much like those games, I'm sure EA will bridge the gap successfully – bring on next year’s inevitable follow-up.

GST2 is a Jo Wilfred Tsonga. It's a crowd pleaser, has touches of greatness and could eventually challenge for number one. For now though, it’s still a couple of years away from fulfilling its potential.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
Sport
football
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst - Tunbridge Wells - £30,000

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Test Analyst/Systems Administ...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET, C#

    £40000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Global Real Estate Software P...

    Recruitment Genius: Drupal / PHP Developer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity for a talented...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer

    £17000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuing growth, recru...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us