Virtua Tennis World Tour
The 2005 tennis season is coming to an end. With only the Masters left to go, most of the tennis stars are getting ready for a well-deserved vacation. It seems like a weird moment to launch a tennis game, but Sega is doing it nonetheless. But then again, if they deliver us grand game, who are we to complain?
Virtua Tennis World Tour is the latest game in the almost legendary Virtua Tennis series. The previous one, Virtua Tennis 2 (for PS2 and Dreamcast) is still being regarded as the best tennis game ever by many gamers, so World Tour has quite a legacy to live up to.
Luckily, VTWT does an outstanding job on all fronts. first of all, the game uses an official license for a dozen or so top player like Tim Henman, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Venus Williams and my personal favorites: the brilliant Roger Federer and the gorgeous Maria Sharapova. However, it’s unfortunate that the Belgian tennis stars, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, aren’t in the game. This isn’t a big con for most of you, but for me it is. Hey, I’m from Belgium, so sue me!
There are a million things to do in the game. All of the classic modes, such as Quick Match, Exhibition or Tournament are included, but the focus is really on World Tour, in which you’ll have to create a male and a female character and lead them to the top of the world ranking. Furthermore you have Ball Games (some kind of challenge mode) and the omnipresent Wi-Fi multiplayer for up to 4 players. Because Virtua Tennis offers such an elaborate package, you can play the game for five minutes whilst waiting for the bus, but it can also keep you busy for an entire rainy Sunday afternoon.
Beginners will find the game very easy to pick up, but the higher difficulty settings also offer a nice challenge to hardened veterans. The controls have been kept simple, but actually, that’s not a bad thing, because there is a huge array of strokes and moves.
Virtua Tennis World Tour is one of those games that lets the hours fly by. Before you know, a half hour has passed and when you eventually want to quit, the infamous “just one more” feeling will grab you. The varied gameplay (especially in World Tour mode) only makes it harder to stop.
From what you’ve read, you should already know Virtua Tennis’ gameplay is a direct ace, but graphically the game also scores. The models look lifelike and the official can be recognized without breaking a sweat. It’s not exactly PS2-quality (too many jaggies), but Virtua Tennis is defintely amongst the most beautiful handheld titles we’ve seen. The animations of the players are of the same level as the best console tennis games. The many atmospheric courts are filled to the brim with all kinds of detail, but once again the audience is portrayed as a big blob of coploured pixels. The game also stutters frome time to time.
The audio also doesn’t fail to impress. The audience loudly reacts to your actions and the umpire’s commentary is very crisp. Tennis shoes also sound different, depending on the type of court. They’ll squeek on hardcourt, but on gravel, you’ll hear the typical scratching of gravel. The music isn’t that great, however. The soundtrack won’t grab your attention and is repeated way too often.
As far as I’m concerned, Virtua Tennis World Tour is the PSP’s first must-buy title. Its gameplay is very deep and addictive, it delivers outstanding graphics and it can last you weeks. If you happen to have a friend who also owns the game, you’re definitely in for a treat! Too bad ‘our’ Kim and Justine aren’t in it…