Virtua Tennis: World Tour - Review
Sega's Virtua Tennis was actually first released in the arcades on the Dreamcast based Naomi chipset. It wasn't really until it hit the Dreamcast in a near pixel perfect port that the game earned millions of fans the world over. Sure, probably only a small percentage of those only bought the game, but its legacy lived on and its the port to Playstation 2 was met with solid sales. A couple more years on and Sumo Digital (who made Outrun 2 on XBox recently) have completed work on a Playstation Portable version of Virtua Tennis, just in time for the systems European and Australian launch. There have been some minor alterations and some additions from previous versions, but this is largely the same fantastic title we've come to love.
|Rematch of the Wimbledon final.|
Virtua Tennis: World Tour includes several game modes. As well as the Quick Match where you are thrown straight into the action the game includes Tournaments for singles or doubles matches an Exhibition Matches for some singles or doubles action. The bulk of the game, however is the World Tour where, after creating a male and female tennis player, you hit the training modes and tournaments. Some of these tournaments can only be entered when your ranking is high enough so you're going to be starting in the lower tournaments. All the court surfaces are in the game including hardcourt, clay, carpet and grass each which actually looks better in this game then on the PS2. It is possible to upgrade your player through prize money won with new clothing and equipment.
In terms of the actual gameplay Virtua Tennis: World Tour plays with a slight arcade slant, players occasionally make good shots from massive dives and can return a large number of overhead smashes while almost never hitting it outside the court. The sliding analogue stick of the PSP takes a little getting used to but it's not long before you're precisely placing that perfect serve or power shot. Indeed the game includes the usual array of shots such as overhead smashes, lobs and volleys. By pressing the select button during a match you can switch between a distant high up, or lower close-in viewpoint.
|Going for the serve.|
So what's new in this game then? Well the main change is the new roster of players. On the mens side you can select players such as Roger Federer. Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Tim Henman, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Tommy Haas, Sebastien Grosjean and David Nalbandian. On the womens side you will be able to play as Daniela Hantuchova, Amelie Mauresmo, Nicole Vaidisova, Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport, Sarah Bailey, Carolina Relandini and Venus Williams. The game also includes four all-new "Ball Games" called Blockbuster, Fruit Dash, Blocker and Balloon Smash. These really are quite a bit of fun but it's a bit suprising is that these haven't made it into the World Tour mode.
While Virtua Tennis: World Tour is brilliant in single player, the multi-player rocks with support for up to 4-players through Wifi. Although we only tested a 2-player game it was tremendous fun with little lag. Probably the only disappointment we have with the game is a lack of new options and game modes. Sure, the four Ball Games, are fun but they hardly make this a "must have" for owners of the original games. Also slightly annoying are the small pauses on the world map from one event to another. Quite often we think the game hasn't registered our directional button press and push it again only then to move two spaces in quick succession. Minor, but frustrating.
|The Federer selection screen.|
Before we got our hands on the Playstation Portable we were quite worried that it would be hard to see the ball during the game. How wrong we were. The PSP's crystal clear and extremely bright screen makes it quite easy to see the ball at all times while the player animations are also superb. Unfortunately we couldn't locate our PS2 copy of the game but I'm certain the PSP version has improved visuals by way of cloud cover parting, ball boys running accross the court, and more shadows on the ball and players when under lights. Either way it looks sensational with not a single dropped frame during gameplay (except a tiny pause when the score comes up). The player models are fairly good but could still do with a little more detail and realism, especially given the game only has to render two main players.
Unfortunately the music in this game is the same as previous titles. We've never liked it and once again it's begins to grate after a short while. Fortunately the developers have included an option to set the music volume through the options. The umpire sounds good enough while the players all have different grunts and the crowd effects are also fairly good. Still, this is, as it has always been, one of the weakest aspect of the series.
|Watching the replay.|
Let me put it this way. If you have never played a Virtua Tennis title and/or don't own any of the previous games then there is absolutely no reason not to own Virtua Tennis: World Tour on PSP. If you already own the PS2 game then you'll probably want to decided how often you'll be using your PSP away from home - for most of us that will be often enough to justify the purchase. Put simply this is the best tennis title on any Sony console to date.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Graphically impressive with fluid animations and nice looking courts.||83%|
|SOUND||While we hate the music the effects and umpire still sound solid.||70%|
|GAMEPLAY||Probably the most enjoyable tennis title of all time.||90%|
|VALUE||While there could be more it's so much fun you'll keep returning.||88%|
|OVERALL||Virtua Tennis: World Tour is one of the greatest sports games of all times. There is absolutely no reason not to own this title, unless you absoltely hate the sport - but even so, it makes a great video game. Virtually an essential purchase.||86%|