Posted by John on January 14, 2012

PS3, Xbox 360 preview by Derek Tillotson on 14th January 2012

Tennis isn’t a sport that can be played by just anyone. To excel, you need: stamina, speed, reflexes, a dash of strength and a good pair of shorts (or skirt). For those of us who fail to meet just one of those requirements, it’s a struggle to play in all its glory. Thankfully, not everyone needs to go out and purchase new shorts, as EA Sports is delivering Grand Slam Tennis 2–the sequel to 2009’s Wii-exclusive Grand Slam Tennis–for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

As far as sports demos go, this one is what you would expect. There are two game modes available: A quick exhibition match, and the practice court. I started things off by hitting up the practice court. While I’ve played my fair share of tennis videogames, it’s been a while, so I figured getting re-familiarized with returning serves would be a fun little drill. It’s a simple concept. On the default setting, the ball gets shot right toward you at a low speed, perfect to practicing the controls.

And you’re going to want to practice the Total Racquet Control as it’s easy to understand, but takes some work to use. Moving your player is as simple as moving the left analog stick, but hitting the ball takes a little more finesse. You can get by striking the ball by just pushing the right stick in the direction you want it to go. In order to fully utilize the range of shots, you need to push and pull the right stick different ways to hit the ball with greater control. You’ll need to get the shoulder buttons involved (and if you love lob shots as much as I do, you’ll get the shoulder buttons too involved). If Total Racquet Control isn’t your sort of thing, EA has included an arcade control scheme which uses the face buttons instead of the right stick.

Of course, tennis isn’t something you can play just by yourself, you need an opponent. The demo includes a short exhibition match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. The game plays brilliantly, and while there is the occasional issue with the AI missing an easy opportunity, the demo doesn’t lack in intensity.

EA has mastered the art of presentation and Grand Slam Tennis 2 looks to be no different. The grass looks beautiful, the player models are very smooth and the detail put into the stadium is exactly what you’d expect from EA Sports. Visually, the game looks almost identical to a television broadcast, from the camera angle, to the on-screen scoreboard, to the ESPN logo. At any break in the action, you can manually activate a replay of the previous score, with the commentary breaking it down. While the commentators sound professional, the repetitiveness gets old fast. The commentary could just be cut down for the demo, but previous entries in the EA Sports lineup don’t leave me all too optimistic.

While the series is never going to be one of EA Sports’ flagship titles like Madden NFL or FIFA, Grand Slam Tennis 2 looks like it could be a solid new addition to the EA Sports library. EA Sports’ Grand Slam Tennis 2 is scheduled to be released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation on February 10, 2012 (North America) and February 14, 2012 (Europe).

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