Virtua Tennis 4
Posted 1 year ago By - Marko Djordjevic
The tennis season is in full swing and Sega has returned with their famed franchise, Virtua Tennis 4. The arcade-centric series has always been more about offering an easy to pick-up-and-play experience, but for those wanting a more realistic approach, or at least some-sort of evolution in the series, then this edition is a very big disappointment.
The Virtua Tennis series has long been a sports franchise that has succeeded both at local arcades and on consoles, but Virtua Tennis 4 is the first in the series to not see an arcade release. However, the game still contains a lot of the same features as past years and plays more like an arcade sports title rather than one trying to simulate the sport its based on.
For starters, there are no in-depth controls. Each of the face buttons on the controller corresponds to a particular swing and your goal is to properly time your button presses, placement of character and position of the shot in order to succeed and win your matches. Because of this simplicity, newcomers can easily start playing without having to worry about what shot does what.
Although it is a good thing that the controls are easy to pick up, it also shows the game’s lack of depth on the court. This is evident in the way your opposition plays; that is, nearly flawlessly. Even the greatest players in the real World make mistakes, but in Virtua Tennis 4, your opposition will never make a mistake, or what the sport calls ‘Enforced Errors’. Enforced errors are mistakes players make such as hitting the ball so hard that it goes out or so soft that it hits the net. Other mistakes include having to serve a second time because of a first serve faulted or getting a double fault for two poor serves.
In Virtua Tennis, regardless of the opposition, real or created player, or difficulty level, the computer AI never makes mistakes. In order to win points, you need to essentially spam your shots to the opposite end from where the AI player is standing and hope that they can’t reach the ball in time. The other exploit is having your player standing near the net and time a smash volley shot that is unreachable. Once you learn that trick, winning matches becomes almost automatic.
There are essentially three modes that will take much of your time. The standard Arcade mode lets you select a character and face off against 4+1 foes on the various grand-slam courts. After beating a star player on each court once, you’ll face off against a classic player to complete the mode.
Then there are the various party games which are actually quite enjoyable. There are nine available, each offering something different. These range from a return game where your player strikes playing cards to create poker hands for points. There is also a hot-potato rally mode where you try to detonate a bomb on your opposition for points. When playing with friends, this will be the de-facto mode as there is a lot of variety and re-playablity options thanks to its competitive nature.
But the primary mode is World Tour, which has you create an up-and-coming player and travel the World in order to become a super-star tennis player. Rather than follow a standard calendar and go through the rigor of a full season, the World is broken up into four different quadrants and your career is played out like a board game. Each section is filled with different events, mini-games, penalties and such and your progression is based on the move cards you get and when you use them. These vary from 1-4 steps and your decision factors in how you progress.
In theory this should be fun since it has you considering which card to use at any particular time, but it also restricts you from playing as much tennis as you’d like. In order to take part in any of the semi-major tournaments, your character must have a particular star rating before reaching it. But, to get to the required star rating, you need to play in various exhibition matches, attend charity events and win satellite tournaments. Unless you have the required move-cards to land on these events, you could go through an area and completely miss out on these bigger prize events. Not only do you miss out on obtaining additional cash, but when you reach the major event that ends each quadrant, if you don’t have the required points to attend that event, your player must take part in a qualifier and win in order to participate in the main event.
Overall, the World Tour is a mode that should be a lot of fun but isn’t because of all the restrictions. In fact, you’ll spend more time playing mini-games than actual tennis. While the mini-games are in fact a lot of fun, your primary reason for taking part in this mode should be creating a super-star tennis player, not playing mini-games.
After experiencing the offline modes, if you wish to take your game online, your options are fairly bare-bones. The only option is taking part in ranked and unranked matches against others. There are no tournament modes available, so all you have is playing well against others in as many single or doubles matches as you can in order to get ranked in the game’s world-leader board. It would have been nice if we could have created a proper sixteen or even an eight player tournament.
Graphically, Virtua Tennis 4 hasn’t seen much of an improvement over its predecessors. Real-life players do resemble their virtual selves, but some lack much emotion in their facial expressions. One odd thing that I noticed was the inclusion of sweat on players. A nice touch in principle, but when you look at it, especially on female characters, it made them look significantly uglier. On top of that, it didn’t look too much like sweat, as if they just walked through a cob-web and didn’t bother wiping it off their faces.
Then there is the music in Virtua Tennis 4 which is without a doubt, the worst bit of game music that I have heard in a very long time. Rather than going with licensed tracks, they decided to stick with a soundtrack that is reminiscent of the early editions of the series; very synthetic, repetitive and annoying. In fact, chances are most people will quickly mute the television or have something else playing to drown it out.
Virtua Tennis 4 is a very disappointing tennis game, especially when there is a significantly better product already available. Even if you just want an arcade rendition of the sport, there isn’t enough offered here to justify a full-priced purchase. Fans of the series will play this and be content with what’s on tap, but if you’re looking to experience the popular sport in video game form, please try something else.
+ Intuitive controls
- AI is flawless; but easy to exploit once you learn their patterns
- World Tour’s board-game structure is not enjoyable
- Bland facial animations
- Annoying soundtrack
- Sparse online features
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Release Date : 2011/05/10
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : SEGA
Developer : Sega
Category : Sports
ESRB : E
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