Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Review (PS Vita)
Ever since its debut on the Sega Dreamcast, Virtua Tennis has managed to bring the simplicity of the sport effectively to the mainstream gaming audience. Whether you’re a hardened pro that knows their aces from their loves, or someone who just wants to swing a racket at a ball, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in these games. Last year brought a new high point for the series with Virtua Tennis 4, complete with new mini-games, a robust World Tour, and online play. Most of those features — along with a few new ones — have returned for Virtua Tennis’ debut on the PlayStation Vita.
Like its console cousin, Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour comes jam-packed with a number of modes. The main one you’ll want to start off with is, obviously, the World Tour. Here, you’ll span numerous regions with your designed player, competing in tournaments, freshening up with arcade-style mini-games, and occasionally dealing with fans and public endorsements to keep your reputation at bay. This is an excellent mode, as it not only deals with various activities to keep you busy, but also reminds you how important health is, lest you run around with a broken ankle. Rest up when you get the chance.
Also, Virtua Tennis continues to shine with its online play, where up to four people can take part in match-ups and tournaments to see how great they are at this game. Considering that the series was initially built as something in mind for the party crowd, we don’t see who wouldn’t enjoy this feature.
Sega also felt compelled to add some crazy new apps to this version of Virtua Tennis that take advantage of the PlayStation Vita. Some do pretty well, while others, um, not so much. The first, VT Cam, allows you to take pictures with some of the in-game greats, including Roger Federer. Decent, but the gimmick gets old fast and, obviously, they aren’t the real thing. Touch Vs. acts like a modern day version of Pong, with two players going back and forth from a top viewpoint. It’s okay, but the real game of tennis works better.
Probably your best bet as far as apps go is Rock the Boat, a great game where you use the gyrosensor to tilt a pirate ship back and forth to keep incoming balls in play. For that matter, VR Match isn’t bad either, letting you use movements to see what’s happening during a match from a first-person perspective. It’s gimmicky, but definitely interesting as far as getting a new viewpoint on the Virtua Tennis legacy.
Gameplay is excellent for the most part, provided you stick with tbe basics. While Sega opted to include touch-screen controls for moving your player about, they’re somewhat inaccurate. Using the D-pad or analog stick, on the other hand, is quite good, as you can respond accordingly to incoming balls and set up your return shots with ease. It also remains pretty speedy during online sessions, a big plus.
Presentation is key to a series like Virtua Tennis, and Sega holds true to its code. The players and courts resemble their real counterparts, right down to the desperate dives for an incoming ball and the lighting that comes from the New York court during the evening, with shadows on the ground. The frame rate is (mostly) 60 frames per second, save for cutaways to player reactions or the intro/conclusion of each match. Audio doesn’t have much outside of player groans and average music, but you probably won’t care since it is a tennis game, after all. Were you expecting thrash metal?
Though Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour isn’t quite the champion of sports for the PlayStation Vita, it’s a great game to have nearby, especially if you’re a fan of the long-time series. And if you’re not yet, a few sessions just might make you one.