Not quite the Smash it should have been
Obviously with Wimbledon having been on in the last few months, it was a given that a few tennis games would be released. But what was surprising was the fact that for the first time EA decided to add their name to the list of tennis games out there. Not only that, they chose to make it a Wii exclusive AND compatible with the Wii Motion Plus add on.
Now with this being the Wii, EA chose to create a simple to play, cartoony version of tennis, which is not on its own a bad thing. They managed to get some big names in it as well, John McEnroe, Venus Williams, Pat Cash (commentary) and of course Andy Murray.
You realise that you didn’t aim the ball there ..
Once the game has loaded up, the first thing you will want to do is hit the practice court. Here you can learn the basics of aiming the ball, putting spin on and moving up and down the court. If you are anything like me you will instantly plug the Wii Motion in and find out what all the fuss is about… more on that in a moment.
After the practice court, you will most likely want to have a go at an exhibition match, I chose Andy Murray vs. John McEnroe. It was a lot of fun and my wife seemed to enjoy watching me leap around the room like a prat! But, something was beginning to niggle…
After soundly beating old Johnny boy, it was time to start the career mode. First you are asked to create your player. All the usual options are there, if a little limited. But you can create a decent looking player and it is possible to win and buy updates during the course of the game.
The career mode takes place across the whole of the Grand Slam venues, including the great Wimbledon! Starting in Australia at the Australian open, you are pitted against an imaginary low seed, just to get warmed up. Next you are challenged by a legend. This is a chance to gain some respect and also a power up if you win. These power ups, such as Venus Williams’ forehand, can be equipped and used in matches as you progress. Following this you enter a kind of mini game; this can take the form of a selection different party mode style games, such as 2 on 1 matches or tag team matches. Finally you enter the tournament, where you must face the world’s best players in order to earn the title.
And so the game continues, following the same pattern of low seed, legend, mini game, tournament until you are finally crowned the Grand Slam Champion.
So how does it play? Well at first it is great fun, you feel like you are playing a real game of tennis, with your movements being faithfully mapped to the player, or so you think. Even Pat Cashes repetitive commentary is quite entertaining. Using the A button to lob and the B button to do drop shots adds a nice layer of tactics, as does the ability to run into the net. However, it is only when you start to enter harder matches that you notice something is not quite right. You realise that you didn’t aim the ball there, and you certainly did not put any spin on! And this is where things start to fall apart a little. The controls seem to have a mind of there own. I am not sure if this is down to the hyper accurate nature of the Wii Motion Plus (I have nothing to compare it to) or if it is just very badly implemented, but soon you get the feeling that you are barely controlling anything at all! Using the standard controls can ease the pain, as you have to change the way you play a little and things start to get back under control.
There is also a multi-player mode that rather brilliantly does not need you to faff about with friend codes; you just need to have an EA account. This has several modes such as Australian Tag Tennis, Stop, drop and lob, king of the court and more.
Controls aside, this is a very addictive and fun little game, the graphics are well presented, and it does have a great air of fun about it. The controls are annoying, but after a while you can sort of work out what you are doing and adapt, but it would really have been nice to have a more intuitive system.
Give it a go, if you like Wii Sports Tennis, then you will probably like this and it is a good way to get hold of a Wii Motion Plus unit!
The Bad: Controls are not as intuitive as they should be, may be over simplified.
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