Virtua Tennis 2009
Posted 3 years ago By - Zach R.
The first thing you’ll notice about Virtua Tennis 2009, is the game design is immediately familiar. Very little has changed from the previous version in terms of menu layouts, and aesthetics. The familiarity lends itself to a variety of elements throughout the game, especially in the offline World Tour mode, which is where you’ll likely spend most of your time learning the intricacies of the game.
Upon starting World Tour mode, you’ll be asked to create your player, which has a solid amount of customization options, but doesn’t add a whole lot of meaningful content over previous versions. Still, as this is the first Virtua Tennis game on the Wii, the create-a-player options are welcome, as previous tennis titles on the system have omitted this option for some reason.
Once your player is created, it’s time to start training, which allows you to gain experience to level up your pro. Of course, the big draw to Virtua Tennis is that it’s focus is on a realistic game of tennis, but it isn’t afraid to throw in some arcade action. The training is given a more obvious arcade feel. It’s here that you’ll be honing your skills by competing in various activities which range from knocking large Curling stone’s into targeted areas, to feeding penguins a tasty fish. The mini games are engaging, and offer quite a challenge in the later goings, but considering the realistic nature of the actual tennis game, it feels out of place. Of course, it breaks up the monotony of just playing straight up tennis, but it may be a bit off-putting to anyone looking for a more serious training regime. Thankfully, there is also the option to train at the tennis academy, which has you practicing certain types of shots, without the arcade-like premise.
Once you’ve leveled up enough, you’re ready to hit the court. You start as the 100th seed, and the obvious goal is to become the number one. When you first start out, only certain tournaments are available to you. The only way to move up is to win as many tournaments as you can. Thankfully, this is pretty easy, given that the controls aren’t overly different from other tennis games out there, so you’ll be right at home the minute you hit the court.
If you’ve played Virtua Tennis before, you know what you’re getting. The only major difference is that players no longer dive for every ball at the baseline like a fish out of water. Other than that, the gameplay remains relatively untouched, with the obvious exception of the controls.
The big difference without the MotionPlus is that your player will sport a meter above their head which controls the direction of your shot. Swinging while the meter’s right or left will determine which way the ball is hit. It’s a nice system that definitely helps out novices with perfecting their timing, but it can also be a bit distracting from the action, if you’re opting for the nunchuk/Wii-mote control, as positioning your character is hard to track when you’re also trying to perfect your shot timing.
The Wii MotionPlus option is a whole other ball of wax. Again, you can use Wii-mote only, or Wii-mote with nunchuk controls. Either method you pick, it’s recommended that you run through the tutorial and do some drills to help you out, as this is a more precise game of tennis, and proper swing motion is definitely required. Learning to properly slice a ball, perform a dropshot, or lob a shot is all done by motion controls, and every single one of them will take time. Don’t let the learning curve scare you however, because once you’ve got it down, everything will become second nature, with only minor frustrations to overcome, as some of the motions are more fastidious to control than others.
Regardless of which control scheme you’re using, the one thing you’re going to need to get in your head really fast is that holding the Wii Remote in the proper position is everything. If you see the ball heading cross-court and you’re going to need to reach for it, your forehand is going to need to be ready. If you don’t anticipate shots correctly, you will be punished. Using the Nunchuk is much easier in this regard, as you can control your position easier, so if you’re holding the remote incorrectly, you can try and compensate by positioning your player. Without the nunchuk, you can try and adjust with the D-pad, but the positioning is much more difficult to manage.
One nice addition, and one that I hope to see more of on the Wii, is the inclusion of World Tour Online. Unfortunately, not very many people were online when I attempted to connect here, but once I found a few opponents, I’m pleased to say that there were very little problems with it. It was fluid, very little lag, and there’s absolutely no need for friend codes.
Graphics & Sound
Virtua Tennis 2009 is less an arcade title when it comes to the looks department. While the visuals here are obviously less pretty than the other console versions, there are some nice renders of all the pro players featured in the game. Unfortunately, during gameplay, there does seem to be quite a bit of jaggies present, which really take away from the visual polish. The animations are also a bit off when it comes to the motions you’re performing towards those shown on the screen. Once again, the MotionPlus doesn’t offer true 1:1 support, but your shots are mimicked quite well in spite of this. There’s also a weird frame-rate issue that can make certain animations look off. Your player will sometimes look like they’re completely missing the shot, only to have the ball pop back across the court because the frames are skipping.
The audio is quite similar to its XB360/PS3 counterpart, featuring very little in the way of voice-overs, aside from grunts and groans on court. The crowd is subdued, and the music is uninspired. Overall, it just doesn’t lend itself well to the atmosphere, and considering how much work went into the online and single-player, it’s just that much more disappointing to see how little was done to fix this.
Great online and a nice single player game are enough reason to pick this up, but it’s definitely recommended to grab a MotionPlus to get the full experience. It’s also nice to see a good number of actual pro’s on offer here. There is a steep learning-curve here, and some may find that off-putting. It all comes down to how serious you are about your tennis games in the long run.
Without any doubt, the Wii version of Virtua Tennis 2009 bests its Xbox 360/PS3 counterparts The lacking visuals and sound may be a disappointment, but the awesome online and intuitive controls make this well worth it for any fan of the sport.
+ World Tour mode online works quite well.
+ Create-a-player is a nice option, with a fair amount of customization.
+ Training minigames are fun.
- Audio is extremely weak.
- Framerate issues and jaggy visuals.
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Release Date : 2009/06/10
System : Nintendo Wii
Publisher : SEGA
Developer : Sega
Category : Sports
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
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