This month we have two different versions of Virtua Tennis to review so it should be interesting to see how they compare. When first I saw Virtua Tennis in its ‘preview code’ stage of development, I was quite taken aback by both the fluidity and scope of detail in the graphics. Of course, what little I played of the game wasn’t enough to really make any sound judgements on game play, physics or anything else other than the way the game looked.
Fast forward to the present and we have a full retail version to hack into. Although the character movement (still) seems extremely fluid and very realistic, the skin textures of each player seemed a little too flawless. They actually looked more like plastic dolls than real people. Everyone seemed just a little too ‘shiny’ for my liking. Despite this rather minor hitch, the player models all looked very much like their real life counterparts, which of course, is a definite bonus.
The single player game is probably well worth spending your time playing if you’re keen to do the circuit (career mode is very in-depth and fun) but if you want you can probably jump straight into multiplayer games from the offset. I found the best part of the game was the multiplayer mode. With two players, you can challenge the AI to all sorts of interesting matches. And this is where the game really begins to shine.
The AI was particularly impressive. Starting on normal difficulty mode proved to be a tad more challenging than my tennis playing skills would allow for but again, if you figure yourself a pro at tennis games, you might even want to up the ante a little in the difficulty department. You won’t be disappointed. The AI is impressively intuitive but perhaps a little too much so. The only thing I didn’t like about playing the AI was the inconsistencies in things like volleying the ball during the game. At almost every turn, the AI seems to be able to return everything you throw at them, which proved impossible to work around. It was a little frustrating.
Customisation in the game is nice. You can customise your game play so you’re playing any number of match styles and courts. You can choose from many of the famous faces on the pro tennis circuit such as Maria Sharapova or you can customise your own character to use (which is definitely more fun to do).
Creating your character in single player mode also allows you to do things like train your character via the Training Academy. And then there are the mini-games although you might not want to spend too much time on the mini-games if you want to continue with the rest of the game. They’re a heap of fun and extremely addictive.
Aside from the fact that Virtua Tennis 3 supports up to 4 players multiplayer, there’s no option to go online via the PlayStation network which is kind of a downer. However, that said, the Xbox 360 version does have the online game feature so if you really are keen to play Virtua Tennis online, you’ll probably want to check out our review of the Xbox 360 version of the game.