Virtua Tennis 2009
With Roland Garros in the back of the mind and the games on the green of Wimbledon having started this seems the perfect time to throw a new version of Virtua Tennis on the market. Is this game the ideal means to replay legendary matches or will we do better to watch the real deal on the Sports channels on TV?
Virtua Tennis guarantees arcade tennis in its purest form for years already. The game was fast, looked good and played damn well. This all got improved each time a new part got released. Therefore we were very curious how this fourth part would evolve but instead of a new number we now get a year behind the title. Our suspicion that we got Virtua Tennis 3.5 instead of 4 was quickly acknowledged after starting it up.
The main mode is still the same World Tour as before. You still turn a globe searching for locations where activities are held. You can still relax in your house, train a bit on the Tennis Academy, participate in tournaments, practise with a friend or partner, of compete in several small minigames that make your stats go sky-high.
Before you can start with all this you first need to make a virtual you. The possibilities, however, are way too limited and badly worked out. The created players look like incest has been going around in the tennis community for years already. The first 90% of the World Tour therefore consists out of playing characters that seem to be your mirror image. Next to that those 90% take too long, you climb the ranks as slow as a snail that’s reaching for food. Even after several hours of playing and getting multiple victories you’re still only somewhere in the Top 80.
The only change worth noting is the possibility to go online in the tennis world with your character. You can compete in tournaments spread over a whole week, increase your world ranking or just have your stats evolve. The only problem there is the large amount of lag. This makes the games often unplayable and this is a death blow to this mode. Luckily the game works perfectly with two controllers as it was intended in the first place in the arcades.
The main mechanism of the game still works perfectly though. Hitting the ball is still as swift and fluid as before. Those that remember the irritating dive from the third game will be happy to hear that’s no longer present. Still the devs made another big mistake by adding a tripmove. Luckily this is a lot less enervating than the previous one, but it does often bring down the speed drastically.
Visually the game still looks good. There’s a reasonably stable framerate, the movements looks well and the characters are modeled to their real world equivalents. Only when zooming into them it looks like everyone had a severe case of pimples in their youth. Some less static environments and a vivid audience would be a welcome change though. Where the devs did find some time for is a new point of view for the camera. This is placed right behind your character and gives an intense feeling but it doesn’t give such a good overview as the classic ones.
Virtua Tennis 2009 offers little new compared to its predecessor. The extras could have better been given as DLC for people who already have Virtua Tennis 3. Those that don’t have part 3 might want to get that one from the bargain bin as there’s little innovation to be found in this new version. Isn’t standing still the same as going backwards in these days of technological heights?