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EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis Review

I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while, for several reasons. Firstly because it was to be my new go to game on wii where I could just pick it up and play for a while when I have time. Secondly because it looked to be one of the best tennis games yet made, maybe not in graphical realism but in basically every other catergory. And finally, because it is the first game to support motion plus, and really demonstrate why it’s the future of wii gaming.

After playing it I’m actually kinda torn. On one hand, the game is what I expected it to be and it is a very solid tennis game. But after playing with and without motion plus, I honestly find it hard to see how it’s that much of an improvement. Maybe it’s just that I’m not using it right, or that I need more practice. But I really feel quite let down because I was led to believe that the difference between motion plus and no motion plus is night and day. While it is an improvement, I didn’t feel like I had much more control over my shots when I used the wii remote with the addon attached.

One thing that is particularly frustrating is how it’s easy to go cross-court from the backhand and forehand sides and at the net. But trying to hit a backhand into the left court or an inside out forehand or for that matter, almost any shot down the line, is very difficult even in a practice situation. In an actual match, it’s almost impossible.

Another part of the game that has frustrated me so far is how net players seem to be much harder to beat than anyone else. Some matches in grand slam career mode don’t end on a tie breaker, so you have to actually break the net guys, and that (at least for me) has proven very difficult because one mistake and they will hit a winning volley. I’ve had to eventually give up a couple of times in matches when I just couldn’t break serve. I feel like this might be my fault, because I’ve had the same issues in older tennis games even using controllers. But I think if I could feel more secure in where my shots are going to go then it would be easier to have more success against the serve and volley players.

It’s quite ironic that despite motionplus being all about increased accuracy, I know that I would have much more precise control using a D-Pad and buttons. I like the idea of motion control being accurate and motion plus does have a lot of potential. But I think it hasn’t been fully realised here. I think the ideal game would be where you could make your shot without having to deal with hitting the ball in the wrong direction or just missing completely, and be able to focus more on tactics and angles of shots.

Overall though, this is a very solid, graphically nice and colourful, fun tennis game. It’s going to satisfy pretty much everyone so I think they’ve done a good job. They have a lot of control schemes to cater to everyone from casuals to hardcore tennis fans. However, I do think though that people probably should pick up motion-plus for the best expereience, and using the nunchuk is also a must-for the real tennis fans, but remote only should be fine for the majority of wii owning casuals. When I played without the nunchuk I found it to be very tricky to use the D-Pad to move to the net during points and aim serves, but when your just playing from the baseline you probably won’t have any real problems.

So I do reccomend this game. It’s definitely a big step up from wii sports tennis and it’s by far the best tennis game on wii, (sorry topspin 3). Personally I’m excited for the PS3 version later this year but I think the two versions will be able to co-exist and offer different expeirences. Hopefully next year or whenever EA does another one, they do more to refine the controls and make it easier to pull off all types of shots with the remote.

Edit:

So I’ve been playing more since I wrote this review, and I have to say that I am getting better at the down the line shots on both sides, but the inside out forehand is still very tough to pull off. But My biggest complaints with the game now are that there aren’t tiebreaks in gran slam career mode matches and that serve and volley players are way overpowered compared to baseline players.

This means that against tricky net players who are tough to break the serve of, matches can go on for as far as I know, forever until you break their serve. I’ve had a couple of matches go to about 10 games to 8 or around that mark, which is pretty ridiculous since I put the setting for 3 game sets. It should just go to 3 games all and then to a tiebreak, which would make beating net players much easier.

In a tiebreak you only have to win 1 point off the opponent’s serve while holding your own, which isn’t very difficult as a serve and volley player myself, or even as a baseliner if that was your tactic of choice.

So to reiterate, overall I do really enjoy the game. It’s definitely the most addictive wii game since mario kart by far. I hope they do another one next year and hopefully they can fix the tie-break situation and refine the controls to make motionplus absolutely amazing, because I’m sure there’s lots more potential there.

But anyway, if you own a wii and have any interest in tennis, then pick this game up, EA deserve their props for making a great wii tennis game here.