One series that has been around the block (or court) a few times is Virtua Tennis series, and now its back again and on Sony’s new handheld marvel, the PlayStation Vita. Does it serve up an ace or is it more of a double fault? Read on to find out.
Game: Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition
Developer: SEGA AM3
Virtua Tennis 4 features a full roster of game modes for players to get stuck into just like its home console counterparts. Career mode, create-a-player, exhibition, online, practice, mini-games and tournaments are all included. The Vita version also features an exclusive in a mode called-VT Apps that makes use of Vita’s functions, including the gyroscope for tilting and the camera for taking pictures of players. This mode exits mainly to show of the Vita’s features and as a result feels a bit “forced”, like it was added in late on during the game’s development. Still, it provides a little bit of fun and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
On the court Virtua Tennis 4 handles very nicely indeed and plays just like previous games in the well-known series. You can use the d-pad and face buttons to move around the court and take shots as per usual, but as the game is on the Vita, you can also use the system’s touch screen. It’s great that you can use the touch screen and, for the most part, the control scheme works quite well. You simply touch a certain part of the screen to move your player, whilst swiping the screen will result in you performing a shot. Once you get accustomed to the touch screen control method it works quite well, but part of it still feels a little bit awkward and clumsy when compared to the standard system. If the control scheme is tightened up for the next iteration, then SEGA might be onto a winner. As it stands, the touch screen controls feel a bit tacked on.
Issue of touch screen controls aside, if you loved it in previous iterations, then you’re sure to get hooked on the virtual drug that is the career mode. It really is beautifully executed on the Vita and the depth that the mode offers is just astounding. Create your own player and then take him on a whirlwind tour, experiencing the highs and lows of tennis as you improve with every match, tournament and mini-game session, taking your player to the top of the rankings. The mode is so addictive that it will literally eat away at your life, keeping you occupied for months. In addition to the brilliant career mode, Virtua Tennis 4 has more than enough content to keep you coming back for more. Be it a few exhibition matches, a tournament, practice mode or a few online matches against friends, its all there for you to enjoy.
Graphically, Virtua Tennis 4 on the Vita is a beast, there’s no other way to put it. It’s amazing how much it looks like its home console counterparts, it looks absolutely stunning. The colours are rich, environments are look fantastic, animations are great and cutscenes are sensational, with little detail popping out of the Vita’a stunning OLED screen. The fact that SEGA has managed to make a Vita title look this good so early on in the system’s lifespan is an incredible achievement.
Much like the touch screen controls, the audio is the other facet of Virtua Tennis 4 that is a little hit and miss. For the most part, the sound is very good, with background music and players grunts complimenting the on-court action well. On the other hand, you have the strange audio bite when a 1st serve is called out, sounding like a cow high on helium. Also, occasionally, the bounce of the ball suggests you are playing tennis with a flat ball, with a large thud blaring out of the speakers. These audio anomalies hardly break the game, but are very much noticeable when you spend a few hours with on the court.
Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition is a fantastic start for tennis games on the Vita. There’s an amazing amount of content, including the incredibly deep career mode, offering up several hours of enjoyable tennis. It also helps that the game looks great too, almost identical to its home console counterparts. It has its issues (touch screen controls and sound), but nothing that stops it being a worthy purchase for tennis loving Vita owners.