© EA Sports

Grand Slam Tennis

Control Roger Federer on Centre Court


Review of Grand Slam Tennis 2.

This writer would never confess to being what they call ‘a gamer’, having spent years traumatised by trouncings at her brother’s hands on Mario Kart. But I was interested to try out Grand Slam Tennis 2, the latest offering from EA Sports, which brings The Championships to life on the computer game screen.

Here are a few reasons to try it…

1. Multi-platforms. The first Grand Slam Tennis game was a Wii exclusive, and focused on being easy to pick up and play rather than being realistic. GST2 has also launched on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and really shows that EA are trying to take the battle to other tennis games, plumping itself somewhere in between the arcade vibrancy of Virtua Tennis and the more controlled Top Spin.

2. Presentation. The makers of FIFA, EA have a reputation for attention to detail, and they don’t disappoint with GST2. The presentation of the graphics and the animations in particular make it a lot of fun, even if the (very green) grass courts at Wimbledon become worn all over rather than in the infamous T position.

3. Players. You can pick Federer, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic, Serena, Venus and Sharapova, and also have a swing with Borg, Sampras and Navratilova. The players generally look like who they are supposed to be, and there are efforts to replicate their game styles, from Sampras’s loose-shouldered lope to Roddick’s quick-fire serve delivery. They could perhaps have done more in this field though, and Nadal especially volleys far more than the real thing does.

4. Variety. Unlike Wii tennis, which is about as far as I’ve got in a tennis game before, GST2 is not just about swinging and hoping. Using their ‘Total racket control’ system, the analogue stick controls that they’ve used in Fight Night and MMA, you can try slice (pulling back the gear stick), hitting it hard and flat (pushing forward the gear stick), and of course topspin (flicking the gear stick forward). And then, using the ‘Arcade’ controls, you can use a quick tap for an average amount of force, or wind up for a more powerful stroke. Finally, there’s ‘Move’, which responds quickly and precisely when you decide to take moving your player around into your own hands.

5. The modes. Like the other tennis games, there are various options to put your player in. The Career mode is a 10-year single-minded pursuit of tennis glory, there’s Exhibition mode, for playing with the greats, and then Tournament mode, for trying out the sport’s four major arenas – Melbourne Park, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows. When you’re not on court, you can practice at John McEnroe’s academy. Johnny Mac and Pat Cash will even commentate on your matches, if you’d like.

And of course, as is the way with modern gaming, it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t prove that you’re better than your friends. And GST2’s gameplay is as comprehensive online as you’d expect.