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Virtua Tennis 2009 (PS3)

Virtua Tennis 2009 (PS3)


Every year it seems we are given new versions of all the leading sports games and the latest title to jump on the cycle of updates is Sega’s Virtua Tennis. This time around developer Sega-AM3 have stepped aside to allow UK based Sumo Digital to handle the coding duties.

When you first play the game it is clear that Sumo haven’t made any dramatic changes or tried to fix things that weren’t broken. The overall structure and feel of the game is exactly as it was before, which means we are still treated to the same fast moving, dynamic and realistic tennis game. The game controls are focused on precision and shot direction with options for top spin, slice and lob shots mapped to the same buttons as last years and with the ability to remap to four different play styles, every personal preference is catered for.

One area that the developers have altered is to change the game mechanic for a more definite focus on movement. The characters you control will no longer dive for shots on the baseline and you have to line yourself up correctly with the ball if you want to hit a strong return. This enhanced movement state also opens up more strategic opportunities for wrong footing the artificial intelligence by attempting to hit the ball behind their movement pattern. The AI this time around is slightly more adaptive and it is possible much like real life to cause some issues for the computer controlled players.

Unfortunately however the AI isn’t solid in all areas and there are times when it seems to get things wrong. I experienced a few occasions when the computer controlled players would run in a random direction after returning a serve and generally act in a semi confusing manner. As I mentioned earlier thankfully the annoying issue of players constantly diving has been removed, however there are times players will drop to their knees or lunge for balls when they really don’t need to do it. It really looks unrealistic because I don’t remember any time I have seen Roger Federer drop to one knee and lunge for a straightforward passing ball.

The game structure is pretty much identical and World Tour for example hasn’t altered at all. You still move around the map and select various destinations for matches and training is still handled via the tennis academy. Playing in a tournament or practicing with a friend is also identical and taking part in any of the silly mini games works the same as before. Yes you still feed animals by hitting fruit and meat over the net to them and you can sink pirate ships with strong groundstrokes. I can only imagine this ridiculous idea emerged from a developers drunken dream.

Sadly after a while of playing it is clear that the new development team have been unsure or unwilling to push the envelope at all and have released a game which really is pushing no boundaries and retreads old ideas and mechanics from previous titles. The main mode you will play is World Tour in which you create a new male or female character in the create a player interface which can lead to some hilarious and slightly deformed tennis players the likes of which we have never seen in the flesh. As you play you unlock the ability to play new mini games but it is very time consuming – moving up the rankings takes a serious amount of dedication and game time. You can take your created player online and try to improve the career ranking within a multiplayer environment.

Graphically the game is respectable with colourful environments and the characters are detailed enough with realistic animations which mirror the real life players. The only negative aspect really I could mention would be the strange movements when the players make contact with the ball, it is as if the super smooth animation quality was reduced to half the frame rate right at the point of impact.

The audio side of the game is much less impressive with some stupid music ruining the atmosphere while the ball being hit sounds as if it was recorded in a lavatory. There are no annoying feet sounds on the surfaces however which is one less thing to complain about.

Virtua Tennis 2009 is a game which really should have received a bigger change this year than it has received. There are no creative design decisions to offer more intuitive gameplay which makes a recommendation very hard to give. Die hard tennis gamers should consider a rental before a purchase.



Nothing new.
Good environments and animations. Some issues ruin the overall appearance however.
Run of the mill.
World Tour is reasonable and the online play isn’t bad.

A decent game but they need to stop charging full price for these yearly minor updates.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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