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Saturday | December 10, 2016
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Grand Slam Tennis (Wii)

Grand Slam Tennis (Wii)

 

Grand Slam Tennis from developer EA Canada uses the Wii MotionPlus Control system to deliver a totally interactive tennis game the likes of which we have never before seen. Is this a modern day Electronic Arts masterpiece?

Grand Slam Tennis delivers a plethora of different gameplay options with support for not only Wii MotionPlus but regular Wii-Mote support, remote only play and nunchuk variations. The game really comes to life however with the new MotionPlus because the ordinary configurations are basically down to timing. The UI even has indications of where you will hit the ball based on striking the ball earlier or later during the swing. Without MotionPlus the shots are as follows: a slice by doing a swinging high to low motion, top spin by low to high and a flat shot with a short swing movement. Running is handled by the AI however you can move your player with the d pad or nunchuk if you can deal with the cable from the Wii Remote. Pressing A with the swing means the player will hit a lob and pressing B delivers a drop shot.

The first Nintendo game to feature MotionPlus will not appear until the end of July in the shape of Wii Sports Resort so EA have pipped them to the post with their first tennis game in around 15 years. MotionPlus has fantastic control for shot placement and it lets you strike the ball cross court or hit it short or long. I would go as far to say that once you try MotionPlus that you will never want to revert to the old system.

All the swings respond quickly to your actions and once you adjust to the methodology then it is second nature to achieve great placements – just like real life but without all the hassles of spending years learning the intricacies of the sport. It is a stunning system and makes all the tennis games extremely intuitive and free flowing.

It isn’t all plain sailing however because you still have to press the A button when you need to lob the ball and B when you want to achieve a drop shot just over the surface of the net. Letting the game handle the running is not always a great idea because it can sometimes make wrong guesses for the shot you want to achieve.

Sadly there is no fully interactive tutorial mode which means that players new to the system are left somewhat in the cold until they pick up the controls in their own time. It is an unfortunate oversight from Electronic Arts and one that I find extremely surprising. Granted there is a ball machine system in place but it really won’t help you gain positional skills and just sits in the middle of the court popping out balls for you to return.

Single player mode is accommodated by a four tournament Grand Slam which comprises Australian, French and US opens as well as Wimbledon. This is held over the course of a year and you will face a mixture of tennis legends and today’s highest rated players. As well as the main games there are one off matches, mini challenges and doubles which earns you new clothing and equipment as well as new play skills.

If you play well you are rewarded with points towards their star rating from half a star to a full five stars. The developers never fully explain how the star system works but it aids the replayability and immersiveness of the overall experience.

23 real life stars have been licensed and these professionals will be faced throughout the game. Players such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray are joined by the Williams sisters and there are also many of the older legends on offer such as John McEnroe, Pat Cash, Martina Navratilova. Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras. Utterly unrealistic obviously but extremely entertaining within the contexts of a computer game.

 

As would be expected the game comes into its own when you get a buddy to join in the fun. Online games are easy to set up and you will be enjoying the challenges of other Nadal wannabee’s across the globe. With the option for doubles multiplayer games, they have left no stone unturned and the games can be surprisingly nail biting, especially when they are closely matched. You can add your friends who are linked via the EA Sports account or those already in the Wii friends list.

To further enhance the game there are unranked and ranked matches although to play ranked you need an EA account. All the players are ranked in a single player system – just like the real thing and it means that many people will take the challenge of rising the ranks very seriously indeed. Offline multiplayer is also well catered for with a plethora of options such as tag team games where players can take it in turn to win the point during the rally. There are also time limit options available so those with the most points after a predefined set of minutes will win.

The graphics will not be everyones cup of tea as they are presented in a very familar and simplistic cartoon style which is somewhat tied into the Nintendo style. To be fair they do offer quite a bit of variety when compared with the true to life Virtua Tennis graphics on the high definition consoles. The animation is super smooth and the attention to detail is very high as all the players exhibit their personal traits – yes you will see John McEnroe’s temper tantrums on a regular basis.

This game would have received a gold award, however you have to spend £20 per person for one of the MotionPlus units to get the most out of this game. If you play it with the regular control systems then you are missing a huge portion of the gameplay. For those of you more math challenged it means that four people playing local doubles will have to fork out £80 before they even buy the disc. It is still highly recommended, especially for Nintendo tennis lovers, however it will be ultimately expensive – even if it is one of the best tennis games you can buy.

Gameplay
92

Fantastic use of controls with the MotionPlus adaptation.
Graphics
85
Super smooth animations and a stylish cartoon interface.
Sound
78
Good sounds help to set the mood.
Value
67
The fact you have to spend extra on a new controller to play the game properly is a sore point. No, the Guitar Hero guitar doesn’t work well.
Overall
85

A brilliant game from EA which will hopefully get a lot of kids into the real sport.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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