Virtua Tennis 2009
ďIf it ainít broke donít
fix itĒ. This mantra is often cited in regards to sequels of all kinds.
Once a successful formula is found, why change the core mechanics? In
movie sequels this often leads to recycled plots with bigger explosions,
in video game sequels this often leads to recycled plots with bigger
explosions and more gore. Sports games donít have the luxury of
explosions or gore to entice their target. However they still manage to
crank out yearly updates of their games with new bells and whistles that
the public eat up regardless. Some games, like the FIFA franchise,
continually improve their games and with better graphics and updated
rosters, sports fanatics are powerless to resist. There are others
though, that do very little to improve their game. Maybe a slight
graphical polish and an extraneous feature or two, but nothing to
justify buying another version of the same game. Unfortunately Virtua
Tennis 2009 is one of these games.
So whatís new? Those who enjoy the slick officially
licensed presentation of EA Sports fare will find the Sega menuís rather
bland, and will probably also be put off by the inane instrumental music
blaring through the speakers. Actually most people will be put off by
the music, as it gets incredibly annoying and seems to repeat the same
song over and over, even during the games. Playing on mute is an
attractive option some times. However the system is simple and easy to
navigate, and doesnít feature and overabundance of needless junk. Just
some game options, an online mode, and an options screen.
The game modes contain all the usual features from a
quick single game match, to a draining multi set tournament. Anyone can
pick up a control and have a good game by themselves or with a friend.
The mechanics are simple, easy to pick up, and once the player
familiarises themselves with the different shot types, they will be
using all sorts of tricks to one up their opponent. The constant diving
for the ball that its predecessors contained has been scrapped from this
game, and itís for the better. Instead of needlessly diving, the players
now just extend their reach for the ball. It makes the game a lot more
fun to play and a bit closer to real tennis.
The World Tour mode is the real meat of the single
player game. Once a character is created progression is made by signing
up for tournaments to improve their ranking, practicing with the coach,
tennis ďaceĒ Tim Henman, or partaking in a selection of mini games to
hone your stats. It is a fun way to progress the character, as it plays
like a mini RPG, and feels like your input has a direct outcome on your
characters skill set. In between all this you can shop at the store for
a variety of outfits, courts and equipment, and rest to conserve your
stamina and avoid injury. Depending on performance there will also be
invites to special tournaments and sponsorship matches, which win you
recognition and advance the career. One immediate difference to this
mode is the camera angle. Instead of the regular game camera, the world
tour mode zooms in on your character, to give it a more intense personal
feeling. The camera angle itself is not bad, there are no obvious
problems with it and it lets you see the entire court quite clearly.
Those who donít like it however will be disheartened to know that it
cannot be changed.
Apart from that it is business as usual. Some mini
games are new, and veer between fun to incredibly frustrating, the
roster of players has been slightly updated, but thatís all really.
There arenít many new features to speak of, and some of the more
annoying problems have been left in. The first lot of tournaments are
incredibly easy. In fact the entire first year can easily go by without
conceding a single point, which makes the game quite boring. It leaves
the player wanting the game to just get to the point, and start offering
up some challenges with the pros. It does get harder, but it is very
monotonous grinding through all the minnow tournaments to get there. It
is all the more boring knowing the game is throwing fake competitors at
the player, as there are only ten or so licensed stars. Once some of the
better pro tournaments are unlocked, the challenge will arrive, and the
intense games will come. A lot of patience is required though.
There are also some other minor issues with the game.
Lag is one of them. The lag doesnít rear its ugly head enough to make
the game significantly worse, but it does pop up occasionally. The game
also had some problems with freezing on some World Tour play throughs,
and in an online game or two. Sega have since released a patch that they
assure have fixed this problem so fingers crossed.
Virtua Tennis 2009 is not a bad game, not at all
really. Itís just incredibly familiar if youíve played Virtua Tennis 3,
and seeing as that came out three years ago itís not particularly a good
thing. One could argue that Sega perfected its game play aspect with the
first instalments so why change things? However in three years there
should be some sort of new innovation. The graphical upgrade is almost
nonexistent, the career mode is essentially unchanged and the game play
offers up nothing new. Considering you could pick up the old instalment
for a lot cheaper there isnít much here that justifies paying the full