Grand Slam Tennis 2 Review
When I first took GST2 home, loaded the disc into my PS3, and found a home for the case in my library, I noticed that not only have I played and/or reviewed a few tennis games in the past year or so but more alarmingly that there are quite a few big name code shops actually making tennis games (and I'm not even including the min -game area like Wii Sports). Not that I think it's a bad thing for the sport, in fact I applaud the competition and wish that other professional associations would encourage the same, it's just not a sport that I would have thought popular enough to generate this kind of interest. Regardless, GST2 has made its way onto the world stage and today we'll be looking at what it has to offer.
While I'm not quite sure why the series took a three year break, it's nice to see that they didn't blow the dust off some old code, slap a #2 on it and call it a day. The menu system and depth of game modes has been brought up to the same level as any other EA Sports title, and if you've played any of the recent Madden or NHL series you should feel right at home. All 23 current and historic players from around the world have returned to run around the 4 Grand Slam courts (4 more EA branded courts are available online) at your command, and if none of those players are to your liking there's a shiny new create-a-player utility.
Much like any other EA game that has a stick of some sort in a players hand; you are now able to use the right analog stick for "Total Racquet Control" which gives you access to a number of shot types by making the appropriate motion. Of course, if you like the older "arcade" style they have kept that around as well and you don't even need to configure your controller ahead of time as both control sets are active by default. In testing the two systems I often felt like the arcade style buttons provided better control over the aim of my shots and serves, but that advice should be taken lightly as with all good implementations of the EA skill stick functionality, mastering it to do what you want can often take lots of practice.
GST2 has moved away from the arcade-style visuals presented in the first installment, which is nice because it would be a shame to see the power of the PS3 go to waste. I don't think these are the most realistic looking models ever made, but a considerable amount of effort was put forward to maintain likeness of each pro and the environments they play in. Further building on the feel of a true simulation, you can expect to see attention to smaller details like sweat on a players face or skids and scuffs left on the court surfaces throughout play. There's nothing really to be said for the audio package included with this title, other than it's a tennis game and they only had to nail the 10 or so sounds you typically hear in a match (which they did).
Online play seems pretty solid with minimal lag, and not needing to activate a play pass is something I'll give high marks for any day of the week. Between that and the campaign mode which spans across something like 10 years of Grand Slam tournaments, I'm not sure if you'd get more or less game play out of GST2 than any other tennis title. The game does have some fun modes to play with, like the ESPN Grand Slam classics where you can recreate historic matches over the last 30 years, and practice sessions that are filled with what I thought were hilarious ramblings of McEnroe berating poor performance, but I don't know if these inclusions are enough to sway a non-fan of the sport for more than a few hours. All things considered, if you enjoy the sport or even if you just enjoy challenging yourself with new games that are Move compatible, I'd say this one is worth picking up.
Final Rating: 76%. Grand Slam Tennis awakens from its slumber to grace the PS3 with updated graphics, Move support, and some fancy new gameplay. But can it do more than win over the diehards?