Somewhere in the back of State’s mind, we always felt that tennis sims couldn’t possibly live up to the highs of other sports games, particularly football. After all, with only a maximum of four players on court at any one time, how many games can you play before things start to get a bit repetitive? That, however, was before we got all hot and bothered over Grand Slam Tennis 2, which is the most fun we’ve ever had with tennis, either watching or playing. What makes it so good? It’s just so goddamn playable.
OK, so the graphics are extremely good, with excellent player likenesses, realistic movements and quality TV-style replays – the game very deliberately looks and feels like a high end ESPN TV show in what is either product placement gone mad or a genius marketing strategy. The sound too is top notch, from the dream team in the commentary box of Pat Cash and John McEnroe, to the ultra-realistic thwack when you catch a volley just right. But it’s the addictive nature of the gameplay that will keep you coming back, set after set after set, whether you’re bidding to work your way up the world rankings in career mode, seeing how one of the veterans of yesteryear would fare against the Nadals, Federers and Williamses of today (hearing McEnroe commentate on a game he’s actually playing in is bizarre in the extreme) or reliving a legendary tennis games from seasons past in ESPN Classics. This is thanks to the Total Racket Control system, whereby you either manage all shots via the dual analog sticks (left stick to move player, right stick to swing) or PlayStation Move, making for a much more realistic, streamlined and intuitive playing system.