Stepping onto center court.
If you haven't heard of Grand Slam Tennis before, that's probably because you don't care for tennis games or because it was on the Wii. Apart from Nintendo's first-party titles, the Wii's catalogue is rife with casual titles meant for Wii-mote waggling and rarely much else. Electronic Arts undertstands this, and knows that the franchise needs a substantial upgrade to the Xbox 360 and PS3 for the sake of survival. In fact, Grand Slam Tennis 2 won't be releasing for the Wii at all.
Not only is this sequel an attempt to break into the simulation, physics-based court of the tennis genre, but it also has Wimbledon. Electronic Arts, with its financial might, has the rights to the Grand Slam copyrighted name and can feature the French Open, US Open, Australian, and of course Wimbledon (which other tennis titles were forced to call something on par with “UK Major Championship Racket Smash Pow-wow”). For the purpose of authenticity, this would have been enough, but the developers at Canada have instead decided to go through the pain-staking process of filling in the details: the placement of the ballboys, both the inner and outer courts of each major championship, the French commentary for Roland Garros, and the minute differences in a ball's bounce when it lands on grass, clay, or hard court.
Given this new step into modern graphics, EA Canada brought their expertise with their prior work with Fight Night Round 4 by upgrading the animations and character models. Following the control philosophy of the EA Sports label, the player's full shot selection can be performed with the twin sticks alone (though the face buttons are also available for arcade controls). While the left analog stick controls movement around the court, the right stick controls the type and direction of the shot: a quick flick forward for a deep flat shot, a flick downward for an angled slice, and then a flick backward and then forward for a fast top-spin shot. How far the stick is held before the shot completes and how well the stroke is timed with the bounce of the ball determine the power of the shot, and hopefully the player is well behind the ball or else the stroke will grasp air.
In addition to exhibition mode, with a roster filled with superstars like Federer, Nadal, Roddick, Davenport, and the Williams sister, Grand Slam Tennis 2 features a career mode that lasts across ten seasons focused around each of the majors. After crafting an avatar with the character creation mode (EA Game Face optional), players can build their rookie by playing in pre-tournaments, exhibition matches, and attribute training with John McEnroe, all while attempting to perform well at the four majors and accomplishing yearly goals for bonus experience points. These customized avatars, if trained well enough, can rival and surpass the world's best both offline and online, in quick matches or ranked matches in online major championships. If that sounds like too much work, though, players are free to download any uploaded characters, complete with stats intact.
Grand Slam Tennis 2 has all the makings of a worthy competitor against Top Spin and Virtua Tennis when it launches February 14, 2012.