A question I have pondered for many years was why the largest sports publisher in the video game industry had not yet touched the sport of tennis. This may be a loaded question coming from someone who grew up playing and loving the sport, but it has bothered me in the past that EA Sports has really neglected one of my favorite sports. Now that is no longer the case as EA Sports has put out its first tennis game, Grand Slam Tennis for the Nintendo Wii, one of the first games to use the new Wii Motion Plus. So when it is all said and done does Grand Slam Tennis have what it takes to bring a deep tennis experience to the Wii? Read our full review to find out.
I think the area most readers are probably most interested in are the controls. By now most of us if not all of us have played Wii Sports and most importantly for this review Wii Tennis. What made that game so impressive and so well received was the fact that it replicated the game of tennis rather well, using just the Wii remote. Grand Slam Tennis has the ability to closely mimic this style of play while adding a layer of depth that was not available in Wii Sports.
Grand Slam Tennis as mentioned before is the first tennis title from EA and it is also one of the first games to use the Wii Motion Plus controls. One of the first things I tested when it comes to this game was the control both with and without the Wii Motion Plus. Let me just say that the difference between the two control schemes is staggering. The Wii Motion Plus offers a much stronger feel of what you do with the Wii Remote. One of the main areas I saw the difference with the controls was when you serve. This is the easiest way to see how close the control scheme mimics your movements.
Do you have to play Grand Slam Tennis with a Wii Motion Plus? My initial reaction is yes of course you can, but when you do your experience is going to drop dramatically. The new control scheme truly helps the overall experience, and as an avid tennis player it really does add an extremely strong element of authenticity to the experience which is really missed without the Wii Motion Plus. The controls can be expanded by using the nunchuk to control your movements on court. This control scheme is a much more advanced scheme but for me I just preferred the more simplistic scheme of using the Wii Remote + the Wii Motion Plus.
The game has quite a bit of options in terms of modes of choice, you can do some training to get used the controls, a quick match, and of course the Grand Slam Tennis would be nothing without a main mode. The Grand Slam mode is pretty limited, but it is the only game that let’s you play at all 4 grand slams, but that’s it. You will have a few matches to upgrade your characters skills and then you play in the tournament. It is an extremely limited offering for a career mode and for me was where the game is lacking the most. I wanted a half way deep mode to get into but the game really doesn’t offer that deep of a single player offering. Multiplayer is much stronger which does include online play which is actually one of the better experiences on the Wii.
By now you have most likely seen some screen shots of Grand Slam Tennis and it really does take a page out of the Nintendo Mii handbook. The characters have a very over the top large sense to them where there heads over take the rest of there body. I am not sure if this was a choice to invite everyone to play or why this was made but all in all it works but isn’t overly impressive. The visuals are good, nothing great, you just know the Nintendo Wii has a lot more power to do more then what was given on this game.
One thing I have yet to mention is the fact that Grand Slam Tennis is an extremely difficult game, not to play, but to play well. It took me at least an hour to win a match on the normal difficulty setting, heck even the easiest difficulty puts up a good challenge. That is not to say the game is hard to play, the AI just plays a pretty good game of tennis. When it is all said and done I think the new fans of the Wii might be a bit turned away from the AI, but if you play the game to its full potential against a friend there is a ton of fun to be had.
I was real skeptical coming into Grand Slam Tennis, the art form, the unproven new technology of the Wii Motion Plus, and the new franchise all lead me to believe this might be a rough first outing. Luckily though Grand Slam Tennis is a refreshing take on a sport that has been otherwise overlooked in past years and comes through with what I think is a rather solid first showing.
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.