There’s something about tennis games that just works. From the humble beginning of the genre with Pong in 1972, to when Virtua Tennis first graced our screens on the Dreamcast in 2000. Now the latest next-gen incarnation will be put to the test.
Virtua Tennis 3 adds little to the highly successful formula seen in other games. Featuring three primary modes
• World Tour
• Exhibition Match
Exhibition match is a term familiar to all fans of sports games, it’s where you go for a quick single player tennis fix, or where you and up to 3 friends can battle it out to see who truly is king of the court. Endless replay value can be found here, with quick customisable game play. A large selection of pros will have tennis fans extremely satisfied including Lleyton Hewitt, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and countless others.
The mini-games are a truly outstanding section of the game. Here players will take part in numerous games designed to focus on one of four key elements of the game; Serve, Volley, Footwork and Stroke Play. The games range from ten pin bowling to avoiding monstrous-sized tennis balls whilst collecting fruit! Some of these games are multiplayer and can provide a raucously good time. Between the ranging difficulties which can be excruciatingly hard, and the multiplayer facet, the mini games provide a large amount of replay value.
The real draw of the game however is the World Tour mode. The player chooses a male or a female character, then customizes them as they see fit. Following this is where the real fun starts. Players need to make decisions between completing games and tournaments, and attempting mini-games that raise skill levels.
The overall goal of the career mode is to become the number 1 ranked tennis player in the world. This is no short task and players should expect between 15 and 20 hours to achieve this feat. Tournaments start off easy, but progressing through the game should give most players a fair challenge. During the course of your career random events will happen, ranging from injuries to practice games with other pros. World Tour in Virtua Tennis 3 is definitely the best put together of any of the Virtua Tennis games.
The graphics are truly excellent. The players are realistically crafted and any tennis fan will immediately recognise them. Players move realistically and there is a wide variety of strokes used between then players. The stadiums are nicely put together and feature some fine detail, such as the marks left on the clay courts by the ball.
The sound is fairly standard; there is the usual assortment of grunts from the players on court, but no voice-overs from anyone in the cut scenes or movies. The commentators speaking in their native tongue is a nice detail that gives the game an authentic touch. The music leaves much to be desired with boring guitar music that will leave many players dashing for the volume button on their remotes.
The 360 version of Virtua Tennis 3 is the only one which supports online play. Xbox live support is decent, allowing you to take your created player online, or any of the other professionals featured. Up to 4 players can play at once, and doubles with a human partner can certainly be confusing at times.
There are 1000 Achievement points to be won, with challenges ranging from playing online, to completing 100 games on a certain court type.
Sega finally returns with its acclaimed tennis franchise, Virtua Tennis. The new next-gen offerings certainly mark the series’ return with style! Fans of the series will not be disappointed, and with excellent graphics, a well refined career mode and endless replay value, Virtua Tennis 3 is a fine addition to any gamer’s collection.