Thursday, July 2, 2009
Grand Slam Tennis Review.
One of the two EA Sports titles to be using Wii Motion Plus is Grand Slam Tennis, and I am going to tell you why this game covered in a sugar glossed cartoonish look is actually one of the most engaging and addicting experiences I have had while playing my Wii.
The name should be able to tell you what Grand Slam Tennis is all about, playing Tennis. You open up Grand Slam Tennis to a simple interface laced with your basic assortment of modes and play styles. There is of course quick play, which lets you pick up a racket right off the bat and take to your preferred court with your preferred player and opponent.
Next you will see there are practice and fitness modes. Practice mode has you learning and timing your swings to get the most accurate shots possible and fitness mode has you taking on fitness based challenges in order to burn the most calories. While I do believe this mode inflates its numbers because I can’t see how five minutes of waving your arm around results in the loss of 20 calories, but, it is a nice touch none the less.
Moving along there is a party mode for multiple people. This mode allows you to take on your friends in your simple singles or doubles matches, or in several nice variants of basic tennis - such king of the court, where only the player at the top of the court can score points, or tag team which has you and your partner swapping places after ever shot.
Before I get to the meat of the game I was to talk about my favorite mode which is the online mode. The online mode is among the smoothest and easiest to use I have seen on the Wii before. Each match pairs you up with an opponent of similar skill in seconds, and every win you earn not only increases your rank, but your countries rank as well. That’s right; Grand Slam Tennis has a world leader board that takes into account the wins and losses from everyone in their country and uses it to create a worldwide leader board. Right now America is at the top of the list and I say we Canadians have to Jump online and dethrone them! One final note about online before I move on, not only is playing for your country’s honor a great incentive to keep coming back, but you can have your friend jump on with you using a second Wiimote and play together against other doubles couples around the world! What more can you ask for?
All that praise being said about the online and I haven’t even gotten the meat of the game which is the “Grand Slam” mode, which I will just call career mode. Career mode has you creating a player, choosing their play styles and gear, and then hitting the courts at the world’s most prestigious tennis tournaments. Things won’t be easy to start off though, as the game pits you against some of the world’s best tennis players right off the bat! And let me say they will grind you into the dust pretty fast. Don’t worry though, it may take some time, but once you get some wins under your belt and get some better skills and gear, you’ll be ready to come back and kick some sweet, pompous, pro tennis player ass. To sum up this mode, it’s hard at first, but addicting once you start unlocking skills and gear for your player. Then once you have the kick ass tennis player you built from the ground up, the game is ultimately satisfying.
Grand Slam Tennis supports a myriad of control options, but, your gunna wanna throw all those options out and play with the Wii Motion Plus. Let me state right here that if you don’t own the Wii Motion Plus then stick to Wii Sports Tennis. But provided you own Wii Motion Plus, you are in for the most realistic controlling tennis game ever.
While we are on the topic of Wii Sports Tennis, let me state that if you play Grand Slam Tennis with the Wii Motion Plus as you would play Wii Sports Tennis, then you will fail miserably. Meaning, that you can’t randomly waggle the Wiimote anymore, you must completely unlearn that control scheme. All motions you make are very accurately represented and displayed on screen. Swing from up to down across your body, and your gunna hit that ball cross court with some top spin. Swing straight in front of you with your hand open and you will hit it right down the line. It’s very accurate, and once you get it, it feels very good. Let me pause here and stress the “once you get it”, because you aren’t going to be able to pick up this game and play with the best of them right away. Tennis is hard, and as a result the learning curve for the game is steep. It took me several hours to figure out the controls, and another to master them. However, once you do, the game is unbelievably satisfying and addicting. So all I can say is don’t give up, and you will be well rewarded.
The presentation is easily the worst part of Grand Slam Tennis. While I have to give props for the fluid animation of the players and solid announcers, everything else ranges from bland to just plain ugly. The characters are bizarre deformations of human beings, which, in all honesty, creep me out. The pros look nothing like their real life counter parts, and your created player will probably look nothing like you either. The crowd looks like they’re made of cardboard and looks worse than in NHL 1998. All that being said I can give credit to the engine being stable at least. You won’t experience any hitches in performance, even online. However that is all the good that can be said about the graphics and hopefully next year EA will ramp things up for the squeal.
Grand Slam Tennis is a fine example of the ways Wii Motion Plus can change game play. Despite its terrible presentation and steep learning curve, Grand Slam Tennis is a great game that I think everyone should try out. Not to mention, with a long addicting campaign, and an equal opponent just a stone’s throw away with the excellent online, I can assure that, once you get over that learning curve, you’ll be swinging for weeks to come.
A buy for everyone.