Virtua Tennis 2009 Review – Ace or does it get served?

5 08 2009

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Ah Virtua Tennis is back once again. This game is very dear to my heart since we have a history together. From plating the game in the arcades to playing it on a little console called the Dreamcast. The Nostalgic feelings I am having with this game are on the same level as the Final Fantasy series so let’s see what Sega has in store for us.

Virtua Tennis 2009 is the follow up game from Virtua Tennis 3 which was released in the summer of 2007. After two years I was beginning to miss a decent Tennis game and hoped that Virtua Tennis 2009 would fill this gap. It doesn’t quite do so which really is a shame.

Gameplay:

One of the first things a fan of VT will notice is the changed camera angle. Instead of a ‘top-down’ view your are almost playing a Third person tennis game. This is nice and all because you can see your character clearer this time around but this also affects some other things. First of all the feeling of the ball does change, this time around you see the ball ‘hop’ over the net instead of seeing it fly straight over it with a bang. Furthermore it makes it harder to see where to aim because you’re not always sure that (especially when serving) where the ball will land.

Now we got that covered let’s get to the basic controls and gameplay. Everything still is in place like it was before. X is hitting the ball, pressing it down for a longer time charges up the power and delivers a powerful shot. Square is a slice and Triangle still is a lob. In my first match I was happy that the controls remained the same because I would think that the gameplay would be left unchanged as well. How could I think that was what I was saying to myself after a few matches. Everything feels slow, no real hard hitters, no sharp angles or whatsoever. I might be a little to harsh but as stated before I really have fond memories of Virtua Tennis so I don’t want this franchise to be ruined like Sega normally does to it’s franchises.

Career:

So let’s move on to some bright spots shall we? First of all the World Tour mode is back with all the mini-games you’ve come to expect. The mini-games you start with are fun to begin with but you will be pleased with the fact that you can unlock to old mini-games further down the road. Mini-Games like Avalanche and Alien Attack will make a comeback so rest assured…. There still are some fun things to do in VT2009 You still can build your own character and rank up by increasing your rank and by increasing your skills.

Increasing your skills happens in a different way this time around. You have three different sub-sections which you can train. By going up one level you unlock a play style which you then can equip in order to improve those particular skills. A little change is nice but I personally liked the old lvl-up style better. For example choosing the ‘gravel-player’ play-style does grant you better agility while your power doesn’t increase. Getting back to increasing your world-rank. In the old Virtua Tennis there was one ladder you did compete on. This time around you start playing against amateurs. By playing singles tournaments you increase your world rank with 2 ranks. This means that you need to play 3 matches multiplied by 50 (which is 150 matches for our lazy readers) in order to get to the #1 spot on the amateur ranking list. This takes ages and gets boring like really fast. Can you picture this downhill-spiral that VT2009 is in?

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In order to prevents this review of getting boring and being a drag I will post to pro’s and the con’s down below:

Pro’s:

+ Mini-Games: Who doesn’t like mini-games?

+ Trophies: There are some fun trophies to achieve, from to like of: Fore! – Hit a line judge all the way to Them bones – Play the meat defender training game wearing the full Skeleton clothing set.

+ RPG elements: Altough not as good as in VT3 it still is enjoyable.

+ Menu structure: looking slick

+ Ease of use gameplay: Anyone can play this game, my girlfriend is the living proof of that.

+ Great animations: Especially when falling down

+ Online mode: Compete against other players, lovely innit?

Con’s:

– Slow loading times: Try firing up a 4 player match and it takes ages to even load a simple picture of a tennis player.

– Graphics: Down-grade from Virtua Tennis 3. Especially the environments do lack the care and attention which you would expect.

– Framedrops: The game stutters sometimes.

– Camera angle

– Level up structure, both in world rank ladder and with increasing the player skills.

– Plastics/Strange looking characters (James Brown from Scotland …. A white boy?)

– Spoken language: Do you prefer English while living in another country well to bad for you because Sega screwed you over 😉

– Music: The anthem is still there but some other music made me feel like I was heavely drugged out on a mysterious African party.

– Feeling of the ball: Not to good which you can read above under gameplay.

– The whole Virtua Tennis atmosphere

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Conclusion:

Virtua Tennis is a great and enjoyable game so don’t get me wrong but for 60 bucks/euro’s it simply isn’t worth it. If you have VT3 stick with it until VT2009 drops in price. Too bad Sega, too bad….. (served)

Graphics:   6,5

A set back from VT3. The Amateurs look horrible and the environments aren’t that great either.

Audio:   5,0

Still a great theme but the overall music score just sucks.

Replay Value:   4,0

Not much replay value, except that you have to play the world tour twice if you want go for the platinum trophy. By the time your half way through you don’t give a rats ass anymore.

Gameplay:   7,5

Very accessible but lacks the accuracy of it’s predecessor.

SCORE: 5,7

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5 responses

5 08 2009
Mischief687

Nice work Tim haha I like the ratings, very honest keep it coming

5 08 2009
TimoTheThug

No problem mate, currently working on the Trophy guide for Virtua Tennis and I have made some moves to get an interview with Guerilla Games so 😉

20 08 2009
Unbrick PSP

I always find top notch information at your site, and this post is no exception, thanks. I have a psp related site, if you are interested in a link exchange please contact me.

11 06 2012
AT

You can change the camera angle by pressing select, so it seems harsh to put that as a con. Otherwise a decent review. I can’t imagine anyone playing this game to the finish, just because there is so much monotony – you pretty much have to do the same inane match over and over again to get anywhere. I gave up at rank 85, by which time I had played for hours and was already utterly fed up of the sheer dullness of the tour.

11 06 2012
Tim Jansen

Thank you Alex for your imput!

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