Virtua Tennis: World Tour
We're well out of the tennis season now, strawberries are rotten and the cream has curdled - but our review of Virtua Tennis on PSP still declares it ace.
Just in case you were starting to think that every other PSP game released was a driving game, and were looking for something a little different, we thought we'd remind you of some other little gems that may have slipped through the net (pun intended, first of many), by taking a look at Virtua Tennis: World Tour. This portable version of Sega's deservedly loved arcade tennis game has been developed by Sumo Digital, the same company behind the Xbox rendition of OutRun2, and we all know what a bang up job they made of that. Sega obviously thought so too, and has rewarded them by giving them another of their better known franchises to convert to home machines.
It is true that many PSP interpretations of our favourite games do little to differ from their older siblings, which can at times be frustrating, but there is hardly much you could do differently with a tennis game, indeed any game based on a sport, so this is hardly a problem specific to this handheld version. Virtua Tennis has stayed pretty much the same since it started, save for the additions of more real world player likenesses (and the ladies, a big change in any young boys' life), but considering that it was already a near perfect rendition of the sport, that too is not cause for complain. In fact there isn't anything here to whinge about at all.
For starters, the presentation is top notch, and graphically it's almost as nice to look at as a jailbait Russian who has more ad deals than trophies. Player likenesses are spot on, and there is as much variety as you could hope for in court types, mini-games and menu screens. Sound effects perfectly capture all the grunts and groans you'd ever want, to the extent that we'd advise you wear headphones if playing this in public, else the other people on the bus might think you're watching a dodgy Asian market UMD movie.
The game itself is broken down into four main play modes with the first, Quick Match, being more than self explanatory. The CPU sorts everything out for you, and a short bus journey is plenty of time for a couple of these matches. The Exhibition mode is similar to Quick Match, save for giving you the choice of players and court locations/types. The depth inherent in the game's mechanics mean these two modes alone could keep you going for many such journeys. Next up is the Tournament mode, which isn't a million miles apart from the single match options, just adding a tournament-like structure (and cash prizes, woohoo) to a series of matches.
All of these are a good preparation for the titular World Tour mode. Here you start off with a simple create-a-player tool, selecting gender, hair type/colour and skin tone - there's easily enough choice to make a player that's a close approximation of yourself, albeit in our case a more attractive and athletic version - before you get down to the nitty-gritty of training. A calendar displays what tournaments are going on around the globe, each having certain entry requirements, and the rest of the map contains a variety of mini-games used to train your rookie player in different shot types, speed and power.
It's a very simple and fun way in which to build the player's strengths up according to how you want to play. Build up power for a baseline hitter, or speed for a net-camper. Sumo did much the same with the Outrun 2 conversion, cramming it full of mini-games which intuitively taught the skills needed to play the main game. The same is true here, though the overall feeling is that these mini-games aren't quite as fun as they could have been, nor indeed, as fun as past iterations of Virtua Tennis have included. It will also be a while before the you have developed the skills needed to pass them, but the Ball Games practice mode should help out there. The final mode is, of course, multiplayer matches (mixed doubles, anyone?).
Finally, those gameplay mechanics are as spot-on as they ever were. As it should be, the controls are incredibly simple to learn (as there are only 3 shot types - lob, slice and volley), but they will take a long time to master. This is down to the importance of the position of the player, how much power is applied to a shot, and the direction and spin put on the ball. Player movement can feel a little too imprecise whilst using the analogue nubbin, but the d-pad is perfectly fine.
All in then, this version of Virtua Tennis is as ace (told you) as it's bigger brothers and sisters, the gameplay not needing much modification for mobile fun, especially those Quick Matches. If you're into your sports, indeed tennis of course, then this game could last you a veritable age.
(See Latest Videos & Video FAQ Here)
|PLEASE DO NOT DIRECT LINK TO ANY MEDIA FILE ON KIKIZO|
Virtua Tennis: World Tour
Trailer (newly added)
|0.52m||6MB||SD, 30, DF