Wimbledon’s just about wrapped up here in the UK and as a result there have been a couple of tennis games out recently. One is Virtua Tennis 2009 which I reviewed a fortnight ago, the other is EA’s Grand Slam Tennis which is the first game to use Nintendo’s new Wii Motion Plus controller. Unfortunately Nintendo haven’t sent me one so I’ll have to review the game based on the standard remote and nunchuck. As with previous tennis games on the Wii, if you play with just the remote, the game controls the player so you can concentrate on your swing. Hitting early, on time or a bit late changes the direction of your shot, whilst pressing A or B whilst taking your shot will either do a lob or a drop shot. You can also move to the net or the baseline by tapping up or down on the d-pad.
As you’d expect, you don’t always pull off what you intend when you swing your racket but nevertheless the game is great fun to play thanks to some great presentation.
Play Grand Slam mode and you compete in exhibition matches and all the big tournaments on varying surfaces. As you beat star players you also gain their attributes and slowly increase the stats of your player. And the star players are varied and all drawn in a unique cartoon style which works much better than Virtua Tennis. Andy Murray, Nadal and Federer are there along with the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova, but also older greats like Natratilova, Pete Sampras, Pat Cash and even John McEnroe. Sharipova’s grunting is even in there along with McEnroe’s outbursts which blare through the remote’s speaker if he drops a particularly bad shot.
A word of warning, the AI players are incredibly good, even on easy, and this game really comes into its own when you play with a friend in the same room or online. Matches can get really tense and there’s enough shot variety to send opponents all over the court before you finally win a point. Online is also very smooth and you can play singles and doubles in ranked or unranked matches. Throw in a calorie counter, some party games and of course the WMP support which I read makes the game even better, and you have probably the best tennis game of the year.
Grand Slam Tennis gets a very good 7 out of 10.