Do you think you can be a Virtua Tennis 4 World Tour Edition champion?
SEGA’s popular arcade title has made an appearance as one of the Vita launch titles here in the UK, providing sports gamers with a chance to channel their inner Andy Murray and become a Tennis pro, all within the palms of their hands.
You start the game by first creating your female or male character, choose which country you are based at and then spend the next couple of years ranking up and participating in various tournaments to become the number one world champion. Jumping around the world map, you cross a selection of different countries using your tour tickets. Every ticket holds a different value dictating how far you can move, and you can choose to start training, meet some of your fans or try your hand at some training and tournaments. During your progress, you’ll earn yourself cash to spend on tennis equipment and attire, and stars which will earn you rank and improve your reputation with the public. Earning a good reputation with the public is essential and can be helped by donating money to charity through the game.
As you move around the world map, you will also need to take some time to rest in a luxury hotel or take a much needed vacation in between practice and open events. Keeping your player in top condition is vital to the performance of their game. At one point during a match, the game alerted me that my ankle had got broken and my performance maybe reduced during the finals of the Australian Open. Even though I threw myself across the court many times, I don’t actually remember rolling around in agony and claiming my ankle was injured, but it did reduce my performance and I watched as my player moved a lot slower around the court.
Customization of your player can be found in the My Club. It’s here that you’ll find the locker room which holds the kit catalogue, where you can try on and purchase tennis clothes and equipment. I was quite pleased at the range available and throughout my tennis career I managed to unlock many items from new rackets, to complete player outfits.
Players can participate in seven play style lessons, which include hard hitter, ground strokes, tactical, aggressive volley, strong Forehand, Counter, varied shots and all round. Each of these lessons is aimed at training the player in a different aspect of tennis. Travelling around the world map, you’ll team up for tennis practice and tournaments with doubles partners.
The different practice events include such bizarreness as collecting a number of eggs, which then hatch and guiding the little chicks back to the hen’s pen, whilst avoiding them being squashed by oncoming tennis balls. Other training events include a tennis match while trying to hit balloons or trying to guide a bomb across the net, which has a countdown sequence. If the bomb counts down to zero and lands on your side of the net, then it will explode and blow you up. The training events are strange, but they all work at improving your co-ordination skills alongside your overall performance. They are a welcome break from the tournaments.
Playing Virtue Tennis on the Vita works really well with the analogue sticks, and you can also use the touch screen to apply some spin on some of your shots. Besides the main mode, there is an Arcade mode in which you can play singles or doubles in four of the biggest championships and you can select from 24 character players such as Federer or Ivanovic. The Arcade mode is great, but rather challenging in stages. In Exhibition mode, you can choose to play singles or doubles, select the difficulty level and even choose from 30 different courts ranging from Melbourne, Australia to a qualifier match in the US. The Mini Games mode basically gathers all of the strange training mini games from the main game, providing quick access to some Tennis-based fun.
In VT Apps mode, the player is able to try out some of the unique Vita functions with four choices to test their Tennis skills. The VR Match puts the game into a first-person perspective and has the player moving the Vita to move their view on-screen. When I first tried this mode out, it felt very strange but it highlighted what the PS vita is capable of. Although I wouldn’t usually play tennis in this mode, it was quite enjoyable to try out. It makes the game feel more realistic, but it can be challenging to focus on the ball if you don’t move the Vita quick enough.
Touch Vs is a two player mode in which the two players each hold one end of the Vita. You play a match from a top down view and control the game using one analogue stick each and the touch screen. You need to have the PS vita screen quite close to your face, because the top down view makes everything seem a little smaller and it isn’t always easy to estimate shots with a tap on the touch screen, but it’s a fun little mode. The VT Cam mode enables you to control an Augmented Reality tennis player, set up your winning shot and take a photograph of them, which can then be saved. The final game uses the PS Vita’s motion sensor to move a ship and the player must break the targets that are on the ship. You move it left and right, while trying to destroy red targets. I’ve really enjoyed all the mini games in Virtua Tennis 4, but this one has to be my favorite.
The Network mode enables you to play against your friends during online play or ad hoc mode. Online play you can compete in matches and mini games with players from around the world and ad hoc mode lets you create your very own ad hoc clubhouse, where you can play with nearby players.
Whilst there may not be that many differences between this version of Virtua Tennis 4 and the others that have come before, the unique Vita modes are a welcome bonus. Graphically the game looked crisp and polished, and the control system enabled fluid gameplay throughout my tennis career. Overall a great tennis game that compliments the PS Vita’s control systems, while giving a great deal of playable content to your average tennis loving gamer. Smash Hit. Ace!