A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that EA Sports' Grand Slam Tennis 2 is a sports simulation based on professional tennis. It does allow players to compete online, where kids could be subjected to inappropriate language or conversations as both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game support unmoderated voice chat via headset microphone.
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What's it about?
Forget everything you remember about EA Sports' 3 year-old Grand Slam Tennis, a cartoony tennis game for the Nintendo Wii. That's because the publisher has put a different spin on its sequel for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, including a more realistic approach to the game, licensed tournaments, high-definition graphics, and a lengthy career mode. It's not quite as deep as 2K Sports' Top Spin simulation, mind you, but not as arcade-like as its predecessor or Sega's Virtua Tennis offerings.
The first thing you'll notice about this game is the bump up in presentation, with slick HD visuals and smooth animation from the licensed players like Nadal, Federer, Sampras, the Williams sisters, Sharapova, or cover athlete John McEnroe. Each of these virtual players move like their real-life counterparts, too. The game also houses many faithfully recreated tournaments -- including Wimbledon and the other three Grand Slams -- each of which should serve as a real treat for tennis buffs. And with the TV-like camera angles and replays, ESPN graphics, advertisements, and licensed apparel, it really does feel like you're playing a televised match.
Is it any good?
Overall, Grand Slam Tennis 2 is a very good outing from EA Sports as they charge back into the tennis arena. It strikes a healthy balance between a realistic simulation and easy arcade game, offering intuitive analog stick control, great graphics, and includes many of the famous players from today and yesterday, as well as licensed tournaments. Grand Slam Tennis 2 is a pretty game but the players feel soulless. Unlike many other EA Sports titles, Grand Slam Tennis 2 needs more emotion, drama, and passion in the player's faces and performances. But EA Sports somewhat makes up for it in the smooth and responsive control. Employing a technology called "Total Racket Control," you'll be controlling your players with the dual analog sticks: the left stick is reserved for player positioning on the court while the right stick focuses on the ball's power, direction, and type of shot. You can use buttons, if you prefer, or a combination of sticks and buttons. While not tried for this review, the PlayStation 3 version of the game supports the PlayStation Move motion-sensing peripheral; Kinect for Xbox 360 is not supported, however.
Along with quick games of singles or doubles (including online multiplayer matches), new to the series is a 10-year career mode. After you create a character from scratch and give him or her a name, you'll step into a small tourney in Dubai and then, over time, work your way up to win Grand Slams. Between the mini-challenges, exhibition matches, and major events, there's a lot of meat here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about if sports-based video games can make players want to pick up the real game? That is, there were many reports of Guitar Hero and Rock Band players learning how to play real instruments, but could the same be said for sports?
When playing a sports game, would you rather play by yourself or against real other players? Why?
What is bad sportmanship?
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