Review: Virtua Tennis 3

Virtua Tennis, Sega’s long standing franchise, has finally hit the latest consoles. Few sports games have been easy to pickup and play… will VT3 follow the same formula?

Virtua Tennis first begun as an arcade game, based upon the PC-based Sega Lindbergh arcade system board. Sega has ported previous version to consoles and with this latest iteration, Virtua Tennis 3 will be available on PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and PSP.

Since we’re reviewing this on the Xbox 360, let’s have a quick look at the other tennis options available. Xbox 360 owners currently have two options to get their tennis fix: Top Spin 2 and Virtua Tennis 3. The former is home to a simulation-style gameplay, while Virtua Tennis 3 stays true to its predecessors by offering an arcade alternative that still pays reverence to the great sport of tennis.

But how does the game actually play? A good sign of any sports game is that even if you’re not remotely interested in the particular sport, the game offers enough appeal to keep you interested and coming back for more.

Virtua Tennis 3 consists of a couple of different game types including; Tournament Mode, Exhibition Mode, World Tour, Party Mode and Multiplayer over Xbox Live. The other game modes are pretty self explanatory, with the Party Mode containing a bunch of mini-games to keep you enthralled for hours.

World Tour, Virtua Tennis’ acclaimed career mode makes a welcomed return. In this section, your aim is to become the number one ranked player in the world and it’s no easy feat. After selecting your player or creating your own, you then traverse the world competing in tournaments and upgrading your skill-set via mini games or training at the Tennis Academy. Some of your opponents during the early tournaments are way too easy but the difficulty curve rises dramatically once you get to a higher world ranking.

The academy offers different drills to increase skill in areas like footwork, volleying and serving, with different ranks for forehands, backhands, control and more. Most of the drills are pretty simple at first, like hitting several drop shots in a row, but they get harder as you progress, like winning a point on a particular shot. Assuming you succeed at the drill, your stats go up.

The other way to increase stats is through training games or mini games. These range from a Space Invaders themed volley drill, where aliens march closer and closer unless you hit them with ground strokes, to target practice for control, giant rolling fruit to practice footwork and serving at set of bowling pins to increase accuracy and power. There are many training games, and they’re all interesting, challenging and rewarding. They’re much more fun than the academy, and the difficulty progression makes them long-term keepers for improving your player.

Virtua Tennis 3 has a definite arcade feel about it; even the controls have been simplified to give easy that ‘pick-up-and-play’ feel. The sold online multiplayer experience, co-op play, the fun and innovative mini games with an RPG-like feel, and the solid career mode makes Virtua Tennis 3 a great tennis game for fans of the sport, and non-fans alike.

Developer- Sumo Digital

Publisher- SEGA

Classification- G

Formats- PC, PS3, PSP, Xbox 360

URL- Virtua Tennis 3