With the Super Bowl in our rear view mirror we here at Darkstation are ready to move forward with our sports gaming and see what else is out there. Well it just so happens a few weeks after the big game EA Sports is set to release their first tennis game for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. With the genre dominated by 2K Sports with their Top Spin franchise and SEGA with their Virtua Tennis franchise is there any room for EA's newest entry into the genre? We sit down with Producer Thomas Singleton to found out.
EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis 2 is making its first appearance on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 what was the reason for now bringing the game to these platforms?
The original version of Grand Slam Tennis was exclusive to the Nintendo Wii platform. Everything from the stylization of the characters and visuals overall to the social party modes that shipped in the product were designed with the Wii consumer in mind. EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis 2 on the other hand was built with the PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360 consumers in mind. Creating an authentic sports experience, visually and in the controls is what our consumers are looking for these platforms, which is what we focused on. A lot of under the hood power and tech within the game is from the Fight Night engine and the results are fantastic. This combined with the fact that the PlayStation 3 came out with the PlayStation Move controller made for perfect timing to offer the game on these two new platforms.
Talk to us a little about the controls in EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis 2?
The controls in EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis 2 are our biggest innovations in the product and possibly the first real innovation in tennis gaming in some time. Our Total Racquet Control system allows you, for the first time in a tennis game, to control the action using only the analog sticks. Much like we’ve done in our fighting in Fight Night, the Skill Stick in NHL, or skating in Skate. Everything from aiming to shot type selection is controlled using the right analog stick.
The right analog stick essentially becomes your tennis racquet, while the left analog stick controls your player’s feet (movement). To hit a Flat shot to the right of your opponent’s court simply flick the right analog stick up and to the right. To hit a top spin shot to the left of your opponent’s court, simply pull back then flick the right analog stick up and to the left. If you’re interested in hitting a slice shot deep into your opponent’s center court, pull straight back on the right analog stick and just release when the ball nears your player. Both drop shots and lob shots use a button modifier system. Lobs require a hold of the L2 trigger combined with the right analog stick, and Drop shots require a hold of the R2 button combined with a Slice shot on the right analog.
Your finally bringing commentary to a tennis game. Why do you think it has taken this long? What are you most excited about by having commentary in the game?
We are very pleased to be the first to do so. The two person commentary from Pat Cash and John McEnroe bring so much life, authenticity and entertainment to gaming. I believe we’ve set a new bar on how tennis games should sound moving forward.
Can you tell us a bit about the career mode? How much play-time are we talking about?
Career mode takes you on a journey where your difficulty level gradually increases over time as you move up in the world ranking system. This continuous challenge sets users up for success through the career mode experience, including all types of users, from novice to expert. All careers will begin at the Rookie setting for year 1, Amateur for year 2, Pro for year 3 and Superstar stage in years 4-10. Your total play time varies depending on the length or number of set’s you choose to play during each of your journey. Rest assured, there is a very deep experience in there for you as you jump from training, to exhibition matches, pre-tournaments and finally Grand Slam tournaments on your way to becoming a Grand Slam Champion yourself.
Can you tell us a little about the PlayStation Move implementation in the game?
It’s a get out of your seat type of experience. Playing with the Move literally puts a tennis racquet in the palm of your hand. You will perform real life tennis strokes right in your living space, from flat, top spin and slice shot types, they are all there for you to control. The core experience doesn’t require the navigation controller for you to play, as the game takes care of your player’s movements on the court. All you need to worry about is where you want the ball to go and how you want it to get there. Aiming with the Move is much like playing tennis outdoors. The game uses the racquet face position to determine where the ball will go at the point of contact, for example, an open racquet face on a forehand swing will go down the line. To gain full control of player movement while swinging the racquet, you can plug in the navigation controller and take control of that too.
The Top Spin franchise has dominated the genre in years past. How do you think Grand Slam Tennis 2 will fair against the most recent release in Top Spin 4?
Though we are aware of our competitors, we are really focused on making a great EA SPORTS tennis franchise. We believe EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis 2 offers the deepest and most authentic tennis experience specifically designed for HD Consoles. We bring brand new innovations like Total Racquet Control and other tennis gaming firsts like 2 person commentary.
What sort of online play does EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis 2 have?
You can compete in a variety of online game modes with any player you want, including your own EA SPORTS Game Face created player or Share A Pro player downloaded from the community. Other online modes include single elimination knockout tournaments and our new Grand Slam Corner feature.
What's your favorite part about EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis 2?
My favorite part of EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis 2 is its perfect blend between simulation and arcade experiences. The fact it’s so authentic to the sport of tennis while maintaining the pickup and play addictive nature of an arcade experience. The players and courts themselves really come to life in EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis 2.
Are there any plans for DLC for the game?
There are currently no plans for DLC at this time.
If you had to give our readers one reason to go out and purchase the game what would it be?
EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis 2 is a game changer in the tennis category. You won’t want to miss out on the innovation of Total Racquet Control and amazing presentation, combined with our PRO AI system, where legends from the past and present not only look and sound like their real life counterparts but also play like them.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.