Virtua Tennis 2009 is the latest instalment in the Virtua Tennis series that started back on the Sega Dreamcast. Virtua Tennis 3 was the first Virtua Tennis game to appear on the next gen systems, so does Virtua Tennis 2009 improve on VT3 or is it just more of the same?
Virtua Tennis 2009 is all about the World Tour mode. Yes, there is a quick play or exhibition mode, but the bulk of your time will be spent in the World Tour. Here you develop your own character and enter competitions all around the world in both singles and doubles to climb the rankings to number one. There are many mini-games to play that will add to your players attributes and there is also the Tennis Academy where you can train particular areas of your tennis game.
Those that played VT3 will be right at home in VT 09 as the controls are exactly the same. You move your player with the analogue stick and hit the ball with a designated face button. There is still only 3 shots at your disposal, lop, slice and topspin. Hitting the ball hard is determined by either: aiming and hitting the ball at the peak of its bounce or by anticipating the ball’s arrival and swinging early. A drop shot can be done by pushing the analogue stick in the backwards direction (aiming for the front of the opponent’s court) and then pressing the slice button. This may sound pretty easy but VT 09 is one of those games that are easy to pick up and play, but takes time to fully master it.
When comparing VT 09 to VT3, there have been a couple of slight adjustments/improvements. The game’s speed has been slowed down slightly which doesn’t really affect anything as the game flows just as well as VT3. Those who complained about their character always diving in VT3 will be glad to hear that this is gone from VT 09. Personally, I didn’t see the diving as a problem in VT3 as if you got into the right position it wouldn’t happen.
Although VT 09 is a good tennis game, it is sorely lacking in innovation. Yes, there are a few new mini-games which are fun to play, but if you have played VT3, then VT 09 isn’t going to offer you much other than another World Tour mode to play through and to get those addictive achievements, which may be enough for some.
VT 09 is a very nice looking game, especially in HD. Unfortunately it has only been upgraded slightly from VT3. The real world player models look reasonably close to their real life counterparts, but they do have a slight glossy look about them which makes them look a little strange. The generic characters are poor as they are all the same player model with just slightly changed facial features/accessories. The courts are very highly detailed though and look fantastic.
There isn’t much to the sound in VT 09 or most tennis games for that matter. You have the standard ball hitting the racket sound and the grunting of some of the players. The crowd sheering in VT 09 is very well done and sounds great when a loud cheer is done after an important or long point. What VT 09 and most tennis games are lacking is commentary like you find in almost every other sport games these days. Maybe a call to John McEnroe for some lively commentary is in order.
In VT 09 you can host or join online matches and tournaments from the Xbox Live option on the main title screen. This is pretty much the same as VT3. In VT 09 you can now use your created character and improve their ranking by accessing the Online HQ which is located on your World Tour Global Map. You can play in either SPT Online Tour matches or Ranked Matches. The SPT Online Tour is a tour that will last one real world week, where you can play in as many or as few events as you like to earn tour points. Ranked matches are auto-matched games against similar ranked players.
When playing online in VT 09 the game deals with lag in the same way as in VT3, where once you have hit the ball, it suspends in mid-air at the opposing players end and is then returned by them. This can put you off a bit as shots that you think are going past the opposing player for a winner, somehow get returned. This can get annoying, but it is the least disruptive way of dealing with lag in this type of game. After playing several online matches you will get used to it and learn to adjust to it so in the end it isn’t so bad.
Of course, playing VT 09 against another human player in your lounge room is a blast as lag is not a factor and you can just play a good game of competitive tennis.
Overall, Virtua Tennis 09 is a good tennis game, but it is too similar to Virtua Tennis 3, which makes it hard to recommend. With Virtua Tennis 3 being so cheap now, if you don't have it, you may as well grab that if you are looking for a decent tennis game.
AAG Score: 7.5/10
Reviewed and Written by Craig Cirillo