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March 19 2007
Virtua Tennis 3 - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
23/3/2007THQSegaSega AM3
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
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We can't wait. Virtua Tennis 3 is hot.
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Player models are pretty nice.

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Looking great under lights.
Over the years there have been dozens of tennis titles. Even one of the earliest video games, Pong was a form of tennis simplified for the technology of the day. In recent years one of the best versions has been Sega's Virtua Tennis on the Dreamcast. In fact many would argue that it is the greatest representation of the sport ever - although in recent years Top Spin on the XBox has also staked its claim. We can admit that on one level at least - the graphics - the XBox version was ahead. That's about to change with Sega announcing just prior to E3 2006 that they will be releasing Virtua Tennis 3 on the Playstation 3 in early 2007. Perhaps most importantly the game is being developed by Sega's own internal studios.

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A stunning in-game screenshot.
The Virtua Tennis series has been well-received by critics and fans for its "ease of play but difficult to master" gameplay. With Virtua Tennis 3, the series returns with enhanced photo-realistic graphics and advanced player animations that perfectly match the behavior and mannerisms of individual professional athletes. Next-generation systems allow gamers to see the most detailed expressions on the faces of their selected players as they battle to win heated tournaments around the world. Improvements to the game's AI have also upped the challenge to becoming the top seed of the tennis world. Finally, and this is one of the biggest changes, the game will now include 5-set matches!

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Sponsors are all in place.
One of the key additions to the Playstation 3 version of this game is the fact that the developers are putting in full support for the tilt functionality of the PS3's Sixaxis controller. Not only will you be able to move the characters around the court by tilting the controller in the intended direction, but you can also move it to hit the ball with a lob, slice or topspin shot. Naturally you will also be able to play the game using the traditional analogue stick and buttons if that's more your style.

In Career Mode, gamers will travel the world and take on the biggest stars of the tennis world. In fact confirmed players include Amelie Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Martina Hingis, Nicole Vaidisova, Lindsay Davenport, Daniela Hantuchova, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Tim Henman, James Blake, Mario Ancic, Gael Monfils, Taylor Dent, David Nalbandian, Sebastien Grosjean, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Tommy Haas. Improvements to the Player Creation Mode allow gamers to customize their own tennis star with a wealth of licensed tennis equipment and increased detail like never before. These players can then be used in the World Tour Mode where they will attempt to become Number 1 around the world.

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Serving in the French Cup.
No Virtua Tennis title would be complete without the popular and addictive mini-games, and Virtua Tennis 3 is no exception. Sega are adding in 10 mini-games with some that will be familiar to those having played previous titles, and some new ones for good measure. In addition to the popular mini-games from previous titles (Bull's Eye and Pin Crusher for example) used to sharpen players' skills, there will be a whole host of brand new games (Avalanche and Topple) to keep players in top form including a new "Court Games" mode which will be unveiled closer to release.

The game will certainly allow 4-players to compete in doubles matches on a single console. As well as playing normal games 4-players will be able to compete in the mini-games together. Unfortunately one area where the Playstation 3 game does lose out to the XBox 360 is online gameplay. There will be no online gameplay in this PS3 version sadly.

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One of the many mini-games being included.

Technically the game is impressive as well. Virtua Tennis 3 was running at 720p at the 2006 E3 show, and the developers were hoping to get the game up to 1080i resolution in time for release. Well, they've outdone themselves with the latest builds now running at 1080p! The screenshots released at the E3 show were quite stunning and already showed the game to be the best looking tennis title of all time. Since May the detail on the players, courts, crowds and other incidentals has increased significantly as well making this quite a stunning title overall.

Virtua Tennis 3 has jumped right up near the top of our most wanted list. The graphics look stunning, but its the return of Sega's stunning gameplay that we're most looking forward to. The good news for European and Australian gamers is that Virtua Tennis 3 will be a March 2007 release.