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Games: Little love for tennis games

By DANIELLE L. KIRACOFE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 26, 2009

I have been looking forward to games featuring the new Wii MotionPlus sensor for a little while now. Even better, among the first titles for the sensor were tennis titles. I have a soft spot for tennis games — the first game I played and loved on the console was tennis in "Wii Sports."

"Grand Slam Tennis" by EA Sports and "Virtua Tennis 2009" by Sega, both rated E, are competing titles that have a few things in common: They allow you to create a character and work your way through tournaments. They’re hard. And the new motion sensor doesn‘t make much difference.

"Grand Slam Tennis" has a lot of pluses. You can play at Wimbledon, a first for a video game. You can play against current stars, such as the Williams sisters and Roger Federer, and old-school players, such as John McEnroe. The graphics are awesome, too — for a Wii game. And there is a fitness option — Get Fit — which records the calories you’ve burned during each match.

Another plus: Before you play a professional, the game gives you a few tips about how to play that person. Not that these tips will help you much, but it’s nice to know how to try.

Among the minuses to this game is the lack of training — you’ll start out opposite a ball machine.

The game play in "Grand Slam Tennis" seemed intuitive and simple — until I played against the stars. And it didn’t matter if I played a created character or one of the tennis pros. I took the motion sensor off and played without it, but I still never won a game. I felt like sometimes the Wiimote wasn’t responding to the motion.

There are definite positives and negatives to "Virtua Tennis 2009." Among the good: There’s lots of training in the form of 30-second challenges (that unfortunately take a long time to load. It would have been nice to have been able to repeat them quickly or line up several to play at one time).

Another nice thing about "Virtua Tennis" is the shot gauge. It’s a blue bar that appears on the screen to help you determine when to hit the ball. While that’s really helpful, the bar isn’t foolproof — I still missed the ball. And I found myself watching the bar rather than watching the game. That’s not really the point of tennis.

You can play right away using yourself or other famous pro players, or you can try the world tour. And this is where my complaints with the graphics began. I couldn’t create a character that looked very realistic. My training partner looked pretty weird as well. I wasn’t impressed with the graphics at all.

But I did like the game choices in "Virtua Tennis 2009." I played a game where I had to hit alligators with tennis balls to keep them from meat and another where I played curling via tennis. That was lots of fun.

In short: Both games are hard, and it seems like you’d have to play a long time to get "good." Neither game seems to have much room for error. The casual player might enjoy the minigames of "Virtua" or the group play of "GST," but not the general play.

Platform: Wii
On the Web: tennis.easports.com/home.action; www.sega.com/virtuatennis2009/


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