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Virtua Tennis 2009 PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 7.0
Sound 5.0
Value 7.0
Distributor: SEGA
Review Date:
June 2009
Jamie Kirk


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 price tag.  


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