Friday, 15 June 2012

Review: Grand Slam Tennis 2 (PS3)

Sega and 2K games have always dominated the sports genre when it came to tennis. The original Grand Slam Tennis (GST) was released only on the Wii, but now the series is getting the full HD treatment on the PS3. GST 2 comes to the court with an intuitive control scheme, the ability to play as past tennis legends, and today's top stars.

GST2 features two control schemes for players to choose from. You can either choose the standard scheme using the square, triangle and circle button or you can play using the right analog stick. You can change the type of shot (i.e. flat shot, top spin and slice) your player plays based on which direction you move the right analog stick. The right analog stick control scheme works great, but it takes some practice. Prior to jumping into the game you're best served trying out the game's tutorial mode where you practice different shot types and try to hit targets in order to upgrade your characters skills and unlock merchandise. John McEnroe also provides some constructive feedback as to how well you are doing in the training academy.

GST2's main draw is the career mode, which spans ten seasons. At the beginning of the career mode you create your tennis player, which you can then upload online for others to download. The set of options for creating your player is quite robust as you can even choose what type of player you want to create. So, if you want to create a player with a hard service like Andy Roddick or a power game like Rafael Nadal, the game gives you that option. And in addition to that, you can also model your player after past legends as well. Past this point, you can then customize your characters appearance in terms of what brands of clothing you would like them to sport.

In the career mode you have the usual choice of playing through a variety of venues from smaller tournaments to Grand Slams. By far the biggest problem with the game is the AI. As you progress in your career mode the opponents you face will get more difficult, but the first few seasons of the career are incredibly easy. When you first start your career, your characters overall rating is around 35-40 and you're playing against players like Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal whose rankings are almost 3 times yours and they still don't provide enough competition. It's a little bizarre that a new character you create can win all the Grand Slams in a single season when in reality most tennis professionals cannot accomplish this feat in their entire career.

Aside from the career mode is the Classics Mode, which throw you into real life and fictional situations over the past 30 years of the sport. It's a nice touch and will be appreciated by those who love the history of the sport.

All of the character models look like their real life counterparts. In addition to that the specific individual movements for each player are in the game down to Maria Sharapova's grunts. John McEnroe and Pat Cash provide color commentary to the game. GST 2 is the first tennis game I've played that actually has commentary. While the commentary is satisfactory, you will hear both McEnroe and Cash repeat themselves quite a bit. There's one line in particular that McEnroe repeats about the advantages and disadvantages of deep shots. There's also a lot of ESPN Branding in the game down to the Classics Mode and the in-game replays. It's nice to see the EA and ESPN Partnership coming together and giving the game an authentic kind of broadcast experience.

GST2 is a solid effort, but falls short in several areas. The career mode, opponent AI and presentation still need to be fine tuned. If EA can sort out these issues then there's no doubt GST3 could be the new Grand Slam Champion of tennis.

- Siddharth Masand

The Good
- Great control scheme
- You can play as classic tennis legends
- Great variety of options for creating a player

The Bad

- Commentating can get a little repetitive
- Career mode feels unbalanced

Score: 7.0 / 10