Title: Virtua Tennis 2009
Release Date: June 9 2009
Genre: Sports, Tennis
Rating: E for Everyone
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Sega of America
Developer: Sumo Digital
Product Link: http://www.amazon.com/Virtua-Tennis-2009-Xbox-360/dp/B001TYYXB8
Tennis games have always been a tough genre to excel in. The realistic ones are usually too hard to score in and their controls are sloppy, the cartoonish ones are unrewarding and often offer one unhittable shot that shortens those long tough volleys between players. Virtua Tennis 2009 is the latest edition to the long running Virtua Tennis series.
Gameplay is excellent. The controls are very tight and fluid. Aiming your shot is also quite accurate. The sounds could stand for some improvement. Gameplay sounds are good, but there is nothing for in game commentary. All you get is horribly annoying music. This music can be silenced but makes the game far too quiet, which is where commentary would fit in great. The graphics are alright. Players and courts look good, but when it comes to the arenas and background items, they seem awfully lazy. One bright spot in the game’s physics is the camera angles. They are all wonderfully positioned. I found myself changing the camera every few shots, trying to get a feel for which one I liked best, I ended up doing this as long as I played since it helped keep the game feeling fresh.
The game its self is really easy. At first it seems laughably easy. Then the longer you play the more you realize that this game has a downright childish difficulty. For example: when I played the career mode I won 20 of my first 20 tournaments, never losing a match or a set. Then I played in a charity match against James Blake, who the game had ranked as #1 overall, and I beat him without letting him scoring a point.
That brings me to my next point; the ranking system is totally flawed. When you start your career you are ranked #100. Then you have to play tournaments in order to increase your ranking. Through those first 20 tournaments, I increased my ranking from #100 or #74. In real life, if someone dominated every single tournament, match and set they played in they would be ranked in the top 10 after about 5 or 6. That being said, there was no way to change this difficulty, I just had to keep playing and destroying every opponent I faced, slowly crawling my way up the ladder. This got extremely boring, very quickly.
The minigames, on the other hand, are a blast. There are a bunch of different ones and each one can be utilized during off-weeks in career mode to help hone your skills. My favorite had to be the one that resembled the casual game Collapse. You hit tennis balls at a wall of blocks, and had to score points in a time limit. Points are awarded for block size and combos. Another good minigame is a billiards one, which has the player serving cue-balls onto a table to pot the pool balls, again for points. These offered something more unique for players who don’t want to do the same training exercises over and over again.
Virtua Tennis 2009 is available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. If it wasn’t for the insanely easy difficulty, this game would be a contender for best sports game of the year, however it just loses all its luster when you never see any kind of competition the entire time you play. The graphics, controls and minigames are all great, but the difficulty will insure a quick trip to the bargain bin.
Overall Rating: **1/2
The Gaming Savant, Ryan Smith
September 2, 2009