IGN's review as well as the reviews above 8 are wrong. Find out from a tennis player's detailed review. *long*

User Rating: 5 | Grand Slam Tennis WII
GREAT EXPECTATIONS

I bought Grand Slam Tennis (GST) with the anticipation of seeing actual habits translate onto screen especially for someone who plays real tennis. While I'm not Pete Sampras on the court, I can definitely rally and hold my own and have played for half of my life. If you are such a person who is expecting the same thing with this game, beware. This is not the case here. GST has basic problems that spell trouble for potential buyers of the Wii Motion Plus that expect to perform actual tennis movements - which is one of the big reasons for getting this game. For the last 25-30 hours, I've tried my best to see if it's the game or if it's me.

From the get-go the game has a very basic feel that makes no use of the Wiimote pointer. Its basic menu system is paired with background music courtesy of music clips from Apple's GarageBand. It has the modes that most tennis games have nowadays. So, create a player, exhibition ("play now"), and a career mode ("Grand Slam") are standard fare. I dabbled in the other modes like Fit mode and online but those are novel at best. While GST's calorie counting will have you feeling good about being conscious of your health, it is mostly inaccurate since it also doesn't ask your current age or weight.

In GST, you can create your player and begin acquiring abilities and begin upgrading your player to do some damage on the court. Unfortunately, those abilities get hampered by your own player A.I. and unnatural controls once you actually start playing the game.

Does this game mimic actual tennis movements and swings? Hardly. Does this game provide the virtual tennis experience we've been anticipating for? In a word, No.

Why not? Let me explain in detail.

ARE THERE DROP-SHOT OR LOB BUTTONS ON REAL TENNIS RACQUETS?

With Wii Motion Plus, GST has promised the realistic feel of drop shots, top-spins, and lobs but the way it is controlled is not natural. Rather than hold the remote sideways and use the wider side of the remote to mimic ground strokes, the game asks that you actually swing with the WiiMote's logo facing upward with your thumb on the "A" button and your index finger on the "B" trigger. The feeling of this is similar to throwing a frisbee as opposed to the feeling of holding a tennis racquet's handle. On top of that, drop shots and lobs are controlled through a combination of swinging and holding either the "A" button (lob) or "B" trigger (drop shot). Hell, even Wii Sports Tennis had lobs without any extra button combinations...or even Wii Motion Plus. What makes this also frustrating is the location of the pause/menu button ("+"). Why? Because the "A" button is in close proximity to it. There were many cases where I've attemped to lob the ball ("A" button) only to accidently pause the game while the ball is approaching me in midair.

APPROACHING THE NET IS DANGEROUS

GST's net game also adds to the frustration. Pressing "up" and "down" on the control pad sounded really good on paper. It allowed you to switch between playing from baseline to approaching the net. Unfortunately, it falls flat in actual gameplay experiences and exposes your A.I.'s stupidity. Usually, when you place the ball at an area where the opponent stretches to hit the ball, it ends up as a desperate and weaker stroke. From here, it should become very obvious that your A.I. controlled player should approach the net but it doesn't. Instead, you stay at baseline until you hit the "up" button to approach the net...which means your thumb has to travel pass the lob button ("A") to do this in a split second. GST could've easily resolved this by holding the "B" trigger for net play and letting go the trigger for baseline rallies. In addition, the A.I. simply goes straight to the net instead of approaching the middle. So, if you are coming from one corner of the court and you choose to press the "up" button, expect to lose that point. What about Serve and Volley? Forget it. Especially if you are NOT serving or returning the ball from the middle of the baseline.

THE GAME IS NOT DIFFICULT. JUST YOUR OWN STUPID A.I.

Even if you have never played tennis, GST's A.I. controlled player is an evil gift from the devil. It doesn't matter whether you are Federer or Nadal. When the opponent hits a crosscourt shot, your A.I. usually has to chase the ball and get your racquet behind the ball to make a play. Instead, your A.I. goes PAST the anticipated path of the ball's trajectory and your forehand has become a backhand or vice-versa. What ends up happening is that your player skips through some animations and makes awkward strokes and creating a ton of unforced errors. This constant issue turns a simple baseline rally into a nightmare...even on the easiest setting. Even Wii Sport's Tennis has smarter A.I.
I have also encountered cases where the rallies get locked into ridiculous cross court battle. It ends up feeling like a table tennis game where both you and your opponent are so far from the baseline, both of you can touch the crowd.

I have tried resolving this issue by connecting my Nunchuk but the game felt different. Although I ended up with slightly more wins, it changed the whole experience of swinging a tennis racquet. With a Nunchuk and its short cord, swinging became limited and I resorted back to the WiiMote waggling.

OVERALL

I couldn't help feel that this product was quickly rushed out the door to capitalize on the Wii Motion Plus' debut. Frankly, Grand Slam Tennis is an bad representation of tennis, crippled by controls so unintuitive it just makes you want to go back to the simplicity and smarter A.I. of Wii Sports. While it's easy to blame Wii MotionPlus for this failure, it's almost impossible to tell whether it's helping or hindering. What you can say is that Grand Slam Tennis simply cannot be recommended for those playing real tennis (or wanting to play tennis). Here's to hoping better tennis games that make better use of Wii Motion.

radcastro.com
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