Having played previous Virtua Tennis games on the Xbox360, I was looking forward to a motion-filled tennis experience on the Wii version of this latest installment. As it turns out, that’s not what I got.
The latest Virtua Tennis game to be released by Sega brings with it everything you would expect from a full-featured tennis game. Various different modes, a lengthy world tour and the always entertaining multiplayer. But this year’s offering is all about the motion control, something that Wii owners should be quite used to by now. Being that all of the previous games were played with a controller, I was interested in seeing how the motion control worked on the Wii. But more on that later, what does the game have to offer?
As one would expect, there are a host of current Tennis players available in the game, from Federer and Murray to Sharapova and Wozniaki. Players can choose from these real life Tennis players in most of the games modes, or they can create their own player in the World Tour.
World Tour is the meat of the game and allows gamers to create their own player and then rise through the ranks and compete in four major tournaments across four seasons. The World Tour plays almost like a board game, with the player having to travel from match to match across a map using travel tickets. These tickets allow the player to move a certain number of spaces towards their destination. But some of these spaces may contain training events or other activities that the player will have to involve themselves in should they land on those spaces. The whole concept adds a certain amount of randomness to this main mode which keeps the player interested in between matches.
To enter tournaments in World Tour Mode the player will be required to raise their rating to a given level. This rating can be raised by a number of different ways, such as doing well in matches, improving relations with fans and various other activities.
Other modes in the game include the Exhibition Mode, in which the player can compete in four of the biggest championship tournaments without any mucking around, and a Practice Mode for the player to hone their skills. But where would a Virtua Tennis game be without a Party Mode?
Party Mode is all present and correct complete with an interesting variety of different mini-games to play both alone or with friends. The mini-games include such delights as Clay Shooting, which involves smashing plates on sticks, Wind Match, where the player must keep a rally going on a court surrounded by wind machines, and Bomb Match, a Tennis version of Hot Potato with a giant bomb being hit back and forwards whilst the detonator counts down. End up with it on your side of the court and you will be blown off your feet.
The final mode of interest is the one that left me with a certain amount of confusion. Motion Play Mode is where the player will want to go for some motion controlled Tennis. For some reason I was thinking that the entire game could be played with motion control. Instead, the rest of the game is played using the WiiMote sideways as a regular controller. In all honesty, this works alright, albeit not as easily as the bigger Xbox360 controllers that I am used to. But the lack of support for motion control in the other modes is a bit of a disappointment.
Anyway, within the Motion Play Mode, the player has a choice of exhibition or party. The party section has a mini-game that is unique to the Motion Play Mode, which sees the player having to protect priceless Egyptian relics from meandering mummies. Playing with motion control will put the player’s character into a first-person mode with the majority of the movement taken care of. The player just has to concentrate on swinging at the right time, which is surprisingly hard, and using the B button to move towards the net.
The presentation is of a high standard, as one would expect in a fourth installment. Although I am used to the Xbox360 version of Virtua Tennis, I was quite impressed with how well the game looked considering it is on the Wii. The players are all reasonably well represented and move fluidly on the court, and the menus and such are all functional and easy to read/understand. I would like to ask why Virtua tennis 4 has turned into a daytime TV show though? The opening cut-scene, with it’s painted theme and “twee” tune, is absolutely horrific and left me feeling I was about to watch a weekly drama series about a community that centered on a Tennis club.
Fans of Tennis games will find a lot of content here to work through, although I am not that sure on how different the game is to the previous installment. The biggest let-down is the lack of motion control support through the main game modes. Otherwise though, everything seems to work well enough to make this a solid Tennis game.
Although it seems that there are not huge differences with the previous installment, Virtua Tennis 4 is still a lot of fun. Everything works well, it is just not really what I expected. That being said, if you are in need of a Tennis game for Wii, then this would be the one to pick up. Just avoid the opening cut-scene.