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.

News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
News
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea was left red faced but, thankfully, unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards, sending her tumbling off the stage.
peopleIggy Azalea was left red faced but apparently unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards
News
newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
arts + entsWe have created an infogaphic that looks back over the previous incarnations of the Doctor
Sport
Romelu Lukaku scores during Everton's 3-0 win over Arsenal last season
LIVEFollow all the action as Everton take on Arsenal in the final Premier League game of the day
Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    C#.NET VB6 Developer (Software Developer, Software Engineer)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C#.NET VB6 Developer (Software Developer, Softwa...

    SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

    Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

    Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition