Grand Slam Tennis - first look

It’s hard to believe, but Grand Slam Tennis is the first tennis game that EA Sports has ever made. Just as surprising is the fact that John McEnroe has never been in a videogame until now. Gary Coleman has been in a videogame, but John McEnroe has not. Thankfully, EA Sports is correcting this egregious oversight.

McEnroe is joined by many other notable players such as Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and more. Once you settle on your caracitureized player, it’s up to you to lead them to the Grand Slam. See? It’s not just a clever name. To win the Grand Slam you’ll need to be victorious in the French, U.S., and Australian Opens, as well as a little tournament they like to call Wimbledon.

While the version of Tennis in Wii Sports is fun, it’s not exactly what you would call "deep." Grand Slam Tennis aims to fill that void. There are a number of control schemes available, so people of all skill levels should be able to find a method they’re comfortable with. Using the most basic option, you only have to worry about swinging the Wii Remote at the proper time; the CPU moves the player for you, ala Wii Sports. However, you can also assume total control over your player’s movements by simply plugging in a Nunchuk.

Grand Slam Tennis controls just fine with the remote and Nunchuk, but to get the most out of the game you’ll want to take advantage of the integrated Wii MotionPlus support. This add-on improves the Wii’s motion-sensing abilities, which in turn makes for a more challenging and realistic experience. A flat shot is performed by keeping the Wii Remote level as you swing; topspin is added by swinging up, and down for a slice. You’re also able to aim your shots by changing your followthrough. For example, if you end a backhand swing while pointing to the left, the shot will go left. But you must be mindful not to make your gestures too extreme or you’ll smack the ball out of bounds.

The Wii MotionPlus controls initially took some getting used to, but once we found our stroke it was difficult to imagine playing the game without the additional level of realism. Some AI quirks hampered the Grand Slam Tennis experience a bit, but assuming EA irons out the kinks, it could be serving up a winner this June.

Mar 13, 2009